The Collector

The Collector Summary and Analysis of Part 1: Pages 45-77

After her escape attempt, Miranda becomes subdued and silent, refusing to eat or to change her clothes. To appease her, Clegg agrees (after much bargaining back and forth about release dates) to set her free after four weeks. They agree that he will release her on November 11th; they also agree that he will provide her with everything she needs, including fresh produce, drawing materials, baths, and occasional fresh air. She then gives Clegg a long list of things to buy. He goes into Lewes to purchase them, and also gets her a gramophone; together, they listen to Mozart. Miranda is very moved and cries, saying that Mozart was dying when he wrote his compositions, though to Clegg the music is rather unremarkable.

Clegg eventually makes sure that his upstairs bathroom is escape-proof and soon allows Miranda to take a bath. He first leads her outside, bound and gagged, to get upstairs, since there is no indoor entrance in his house. It is nighttime when Miranda goes for her first bath, but she is incredibly happy just to be outside. After her bath, she tells Clegg that he needs to see a doctor about his psychological issues. She explores the house and berates him about the tacky furnishings. He shows her the butterflies he has collected, which she calls her "fellow-victims." She tells Clegg that it is horrible to have killed the butterflies and hidden their beauty away from the world, using them for his enjoyment only. Still, intent on "collecting" something of Miranda's presence, Clegg asks if he can photograph her and she agrees. Yet her mood changes swiftly, and she grows upset over her family not knowing where she is. Clegg reflects that he often could not follow Miranda's moods.

Their lives go on together, peacefully in stretches, but also with bursts of anger. Clegg shoos an inquiring tourist away from his house, photographs Miranda, and talks to her about his family and about God. Miranda draws extensively, both pictures of Clegg and of still lifes, but she often hates her drawings and tears them up. In fact, she grows upset when Clegg cannot figure out which of depictions of a fruit arrangement is the best rendering. It is at this point that she makes up the name that she will apply to Clegg in the weeks to come - the lowly "Caliban," rather than the princely "Ferdinand" that Clegg prefers.

One night Clegg and Miranda are walking outside, with Miranda bound and gagged. Clegg tells her how much he loves and needs her, and reminds her that he is not taking advantage of the situation in the same way other men might. When they go back inside, Miranda says she knows that Clegg wanted to kiss her outside and tells him that if he rapes her, she will not resist, but she will never respect him again. Clegg is mortified.

Clegg goes on to detail the quotidian aspects of their days together, from bringing Miranda her meals to photographing her to their conversations together. At times she would try to escape: one instance was when she pretended to be ill with appendicitis. Clegg himself pretended to rush out of the room for the doctor, but really waited outside Miranda's door to see what she would do. When she emerged she was fine: Clegg had called her bluff. Otherwise, he reflects, they got along very well. They would look at art books together. Miranda even tries to get Clegg to be more relaxed around her, to confront his sexual repression and just treat her like a friend. Yet she is unpredictable: one day she screams for no reason, on many others she criticizes Clegg's language. She also asks him to let her post a letter to her parents. He dictates the letter, but catches her trying to sneak in a small note that could lead to her rescue. She says she is sorry and asks him, nonetheless, to consider posting the letter without her little note attached.

Miranda then gives him a long list of things to buy in London. Clegg is gone for several hours, and when he returns he finds that Miranda has been trying to dig herself out of the room by making a tunnel. He is upset that she manipulated him this way. He never ends up posting the letter and lies to her about it. To please her, he also lies about posting a check to support a peace activist movement.

One night Miranda grows bored and walks around the room they are sitting in upstairs, smashing and destroying everything in her path. She berates Clegg for being afraid of everything "nasty" - "passion, love, hatred, truth" - and she says that all good art comes from things Clegg considers "nasty." They fight over class issues: Miranda perceives Clegg as ignorant, and he perceives her as elitist. Despite the way Miranda talks down to him, Clegg remains as attached to her as ever. More time passes, and he grows ever more concerned about their month together ending. He even has a dream in which he kills her rather than letting the police take her away.


This section makes liberal use of the literary technique of prolepsis, or foreshadowing. Fowles repeatedly drop hints about things that will occurs in the future, but without giving any specific details. This has an unsettling effect, since the reader does not know precisely what will happen in the future stages of the narrative and yet knows that it will be something bad. For example, Clegg thinks "There were just all those evenings we sat together and it doesn't seem possible that it will never be again. It was like we were the only two people in the world" (64). The phrase "it doesn't seem possible that it will never be again" indicates that something has made Miranda no longer his captive. Clegg almost assumes that his audience knows what it is. He is speaking to himself absentmindedly, and from a future vantage. Something bad has happened and the story can only careen toward a disturbing conclusion.

Another interesting technique that Fowles uses is highly selective description; instead of detailing every individual thing that happens while Clegg has Miranda as his captive, Fowles chose specific moments and allowed them to stand for the whole of Miranda's ordeal. This is a very common technique in realistic fiction; for example, Clegg's expression "she had moods that changed so quick that I often got left behind" describes not one individual scenario but a situation that repeated itself over and over (66). Clegg's narration alternates between these generalizations, which speed up the narrative pace, and passages of directly-reported dialogue, a slower narrative technique. This combination varies the narrative tempo dramatically, enhancing the tension of the story and building interest in Fowles's narrative style.

Imagery from Shakespeare's play The Tempest also appears prominently in this section. The comparisons and contrasts between The Collector and the centuries-old play reveal Clegg's and Miranda's respective mindsets. Clegg tells Miranda that his name is Ferdinand; in The Tempest, Ferdinand is a cultured and kind prince with whom the character Miranda falls in love. It is clear that this is the side of his character that Clegg wants his captive Miranda to see. Yet Miranda calls Clegg Caliban. In The Tempest, Caliban is a monstrous man who lives on the island where Miranda is stranded and tries to rape Miranda. Prospero, the protagonist of The Tempest, makes Caliban his slave. Violent, uncivilized, and undesirable: this is how Miranda in The Collector views Clegg.

By analyzing The Collector in light of its similarities to The Tempest, one can better understand crucial aspects of the characters. "She liked to get me stumbling after her (as she said one day - poor Caliban, always stumbling after Miranda, she said) - sometimes she would call me Caliban, sometimes Ferdinand," notes Clegg at one point (66). Despite his apparent lack of education, even Clegg is responsive to these parallels.

The theme of class also plays a prominent role in this section. The differences in Miranda's upper-middle class upbringing and Clegg's lower-class one manifest themselves in Clegg's and Miranda's different vocabularies and interests. Miranda loves art, while Clegg takes little or no interest in it. When Miranda accuses Clegg of being daunted and disgusted by the "nasty" things in life - including passion, lust, and truth - Clegg replies that he did not have the advantages Miranda did, putting her in a defensive situation. Yet she cannot help but berate him for his uncouth use of English and for his lack of appreciation of the more refined aspects of British culture: "You know how rain takes the color out of everything?" she says. "That's what you do to the English language. You blur it every time you open your mouth" (67). Fowles intended for there to be tension between the characters' different classes and for such tension to represent the social unease in England as a whole at the time the novel was written.