The Collector

The Collector Summary and Analysis of Part 2: Pages 117-190

Part 2 begins around October 14th, seven nights after Miranda's capture. In this section of the narrative, Miranda is writing in a journal to document her experiences: the next 140 pages will detail the events from Part 1 from her perspective. She is frightened for her safety and unsure of Clegg's intentions, though she knows that his intentions are not sexual. Miranda is grateful to be alive but terrified at being shut in Clegg's basement, which is full of books on art and women's clothing. Miranda cannot fathom how her completely normal life led to this. She has taken to praying to God, asking him to comfort her family and bring her enlightenment.

Miranda learns all about Clegg, from his being raised by his aunt to how he has been distantly in love with Miranda for two years. She does not know what tactic to take with him, and switches from friendly to "sharp and bitchy," which hurts Clegg - or makes him at least look hurt. Miranda tries to decipher his intentions. She can tell that he is trying to get her to sympathize with him by acting hurt, and that he is vilifying her for being from a higher class. Her recollections and thoughts are peppered with references to someone called "G.P.," whose identity is not explained at this point.

Miranda writes in her diary to her sister Minny, with whom she is very close due to their dysfunctional upbringing. As she does so, Miranda continues to narrate many events familiar from Part 1, but from her perspective: she takes her first bath and smashes the kitschy decorations in the upstairs reaches of the house. She learns that Clegg calls himself Ferdinand (though his name is really Frederick) and lets him photograph her. She feels superior to him and decides to call him Caliban.

She also spends her days studying art from the books Clegg bought for her. Miranda draws a fruit arrangment for Clegg and has him pick his favorite drawing, and she despairs when he picks the most conventional one rather than the one she views as most artistic. She later transcribes direct dialogue from a conversation they have regarding the H-bomb; in this exchange, Miranda is clearly condescending and is exasperated with Clegg, and she adds into the written version of the conversation things she wishes she had said in reality. Through such exchanges, she learns about Clegg's class-based inferiority complex.

Miranda relates the incident of the a nighttime walk when she felt that Clegg wanted to kiss her; at the time, Miranda had told him that she would not resist if he tried to rape her, yet she would lose all respect for him. She relates an escape attempt as well. She thinks a lot about G.P., who turns out to be a middle-aged artist whom Miranda deeply respects and admires. G.P. had helped her mature and "chip off" her silliness and immaturity about life and art, and had also helped her to become the more serious and self-aware artist that she thinks she is. She lists all the ways that he has changed her and made her think differently.

Miranda continues to condescend to Clegg. She tries to educate him about art, though she can tell that he is only interested in hearing her talk and not in what she says. They talk about his butterfly collecting. Miranda grows more and more frustrated with her captivity. She wants to be out in the world, learning from life and talking to people like G.P. After two weeks in captivity, she begs to see sunlight and Clegg keeps avoiding this issue. In the course of her reflections, she writes about meeting G.P., to whom she was introduced to by her aunt Caroline. G.P. did not like Caroline but invited Miranda to see a film with him. She met his friends and talked about art with him; in her captivity, Miranda has realized that she may well be in love with him.

Miranda alternates her reminiscences of G.P. with daily reports of her life with Clegg. G.P. critiqued her art; she and Clegg argue about class. G.P. dismissed England and Miranda's friends; Clegg buys Miranda anything she wants. G.P. had an affair with Miranda's friend Antoinette, and upset Miranda in the process; Clegg photographs Miranda more and more. Yet Miranda is not put off by Clegg entirely, since he at least listens to her and enjoys having someone to talk to about his life. He reads her a long letter his Aunt Annie has sent him from Australia, urging him not to lose his morals due to his sudden flush of wealth. On this occasion, Clegg and Miranda argue about Aunt Annie's continued influence in Clegg's life.

Miranda then tells a metaphoric fairy tell about her own imprisonment, trying to get Clegg to understand her need to be free. At the end of this story, Clegg bluntly tells her that he loves her. Miranda feels bad about always belittling Clegg, and sees that their lives are closely intertwined - "like being shipwrecked on an island." Miranda recalls the beautiful evenings she spent with G.P., where they bonded while listening to music and pondered the nature of infinity and timelessness. Looking back, she wishes she had initiated a relationship with him. By this point in her diary, it is the end of October.


Miranda's perspective in Part 2 mirrors Clegg's in Part 1 in an interesting fashion. Few new events are introduced, so the focus of The Collector is no longer on finding out what will happen - the reader already knows everything from Part 1 - but on exploring how captivity impacts the mind and thoughts of a victim. Miranda is remarkably stable, but still has moments of despair. Often, her journal entries wander away from the present moment, back to her life in London, especially to her friendship with G.P. The contrast between her life in London and her life as Clegg's captive underscores the unreality and absurdity of her new daily existence.

The theme of collection also comes up in Miranda's writing. "I know what I am to him," she says. "A butterfly he has always wanted to catch. I remember (the first time I met him) G.P. saying that collectors were the worst animals of all...They're anti-life, anti-art, anti-everything" (123). By recognizing that her captivity is an extension of Clegg's collecting proclivities, Miranda accurately understands to at least some extent Clegg's feelings for her. In the above quote, G.P. was referring specifically to art collectors. Yet any kind of collector, whether of art, butterflies, women, or something else, is removing beauty from the outside world and selfishly indulging private obsessions.

Comparisons to The Tempest can be drawn from both Miranda's perspective and Clegg's. "And yes, he had more dignity than I did then and I felt small, mean," Miranda says. "Always sneering at him, jabbing him, hating him and showing it. It was funny, we sat in silence facing each other and I had a feeling I've had once or twice before, of the most peculiar closeness to him - not love or attraction or sympathy in any way. But linked destiny. Like being shipwrecked on an island - a raft - together. In every way not wanting to be together. But together" (187).

This quotation moves beyond Miranda's earlier equation of Clegg and Caliban and provides further references to The Tempest. Here, Miranda invokes the imagery of a shipwreck, which is a central plot point of the play: a shipwreck brings Ferdinand and Miranda together, and travel by ship ultimately draws Caliban and Miranda apart. This quotation also shows Miranda's strong feelings of superiority to Clegg, which echo Miranda's pity and disdain for Caliban in the play The Tempest.

Miranda's isolation in the basement and her consolation of writing in her journal further highlight the absurdity of her captivity. She struggles to find the words to describe her bizarre interactions with Clegg: she says that a drawing is far more expressive than words could ever be. "You draw a line and you know at once whether it's a good or bad line. But you write a line and it seems true and then you read it again" (129). This quote functions as a meta-commentary on the novel itself, which shows two perspectives on the same events. Which version is true? If writing cannot ever be true, then is there any way to tell?