The Collector

The Collector Summary and Analysis of Part 2: Pages 191-260

Miranda manages to find a nail when Clegg is distracted one day. She plans to use it to try to loosen one of the stones in the cellar and carve out a tunnel, which will lead to freedom. In the meantime, she thinks more about G.P. and recalls meeting one of his paramours. She wishes that she and G.P. weren't 20 years apart in age. Miranda writes a letter to her family (though Clegg dictates her words) and tries to slip in a rescue note. This maneuver fails, but Miranda still convinces Clegg to go to London, which will allow her time to dig out her tunnel. She gives Clegg a long list of things to buy so that he will be away for hours. One of the items on her list is a painting by G.P. Yet the escape plan does not work, because even when Miranda manages to loosen a few stones she discovers a massive stone wall, not soft dirt to tunnel through.

Though Miranda is upset about her failure, the next morning she is genuinely pleased to see that Clegg has found a painting by G.P. She thinks more about G.P.'s influence on her, and considers the other men who had been interested in her in the past, including an awkward French boy. Later on, Miranda tries to escape her cell by faking a case of appendicitis, yet this trick fails.

The days drag on, and Miranda grows more intolerant of her captivity. She is consoled by G.P.'s drawing, which is of a nude woman, and thinks about class and about G.P.'s opinions of the New People. Miranda bemoans all the people in England who are uneducated and pompous. She sees very little authenticity in her country and yearns to be back in the outside world creating art. In the meantime, Miranda and Clegg argue about literature and about Clegg's use of his prize money.

Miranda nears her last night as a captive, or so she thinks. She decides organize a party. She knows that Clegg will probably not keep his word, but she is determined to be set free. She thinks more about G.P., particularly about seeing him again after a two-month separation, when she was in France and Spain. Upon their reunion, they talked about their love and their age difference. Yet they part, anticipating a long separation after G.P. pushes Miranda away: he appears to love her but does not want to pursue a relationship with her while she is so young. Miranda has realized during her captivity that she made a mistake and that she really does love G.P., despite knowing that he might cheat on her and that G.P. is something of a father figure.

The journal picks up six days later, on November 18th. The new entries record the fallout from Miranda's disastrous attempt to escape when Clegg refused to set her free on the appointed day. Although Miranda has not eaten for five days, she decides that she will not die for Clegg, and begins to eat again. All goodwill is lost between the two and Miranda determines that she and Clegg must now be enemies. She is consistently mean to him when he visits, and she tries to kill him with the axe one night. Soon after, Miranda decides to stop being violent because she is upset about almost committing murder. She is apologetic when Clegg comes in with his head bloody from the axe; she even helps him clean his wound.

Clegg and Miranda return to a tentative balance, with Miranda trying to teach him about art. Miranda discusses the books she has been reading. While she has been able to relate well to certain protagonists from upper-class backgrounds, she is unable to relate to any lower-class main characters - though she does not draw this connection herself.

Miranda discovers that she has a desperate will to live. She wants to experience the rapidly changing world around her: space exploration and scientific advances seem to herald a new era. She wants to escape more than ever and she daydreams about living with G.P. - a life that she knows would be flawed in many ways, but a life that would be truly full of closeness. In roughly this state of mind, Miranda decides that she should try to seduce Clegg in order to gain her freedom. She tries to have sex with him but, as Clegg has already related, the encounter ends in embarrassment and anger. Clegg is still angry with Miranda the next day and frightens her with his intensity, though she thinks she has made ground in convincing him to let her move upstairs.

In the meantime, Miranda fantasizes about G.P. more and more. She is full of passion for him and frustration at the loveless captivity she is being kept in. She decides that she is glad she has been imprisoned, because will leave a changed and better person, whenever she does leave. Miranda believes Clegg is readying a room for her upstairs, and comments that she has caught a cold from him.

The journal then descends into nightmarish reality. It is sometime in early December, but Miranda no longer records the date. She writes in a blind panic and rage. Clegg has told her she must pose naked for photographs; otherwise, she will not be moving upstairs. She is full of hatred, furious with Clegg and with humanity at large. She grows sicker and her chest hurts. Days pass, dates go unrecorded, and Miranda writes haphazardly about growing sicker. Clegg refuses to get a doctor though she begs for one. He forces her to pose naked for him, but she is beyond caring because she is so sick and angry. Miranda knows that Clegg is inadvertently murdering her by not calling a doctor. She asks God not to let her die.


Fowles invokes the metaphor of Sisyphus and his futile tasks when Miranda tries to escape by digging a tunnel. She manages with difficulty to pry two stones loose, only to realize that beyond these stones is not the expected soft dirt, but a hard wall of stone with no end in sight. For all her labor, she is back exactly where she started. The extra stone layer around her cellar room makes her situation even more terrifying.

The theme of class reappears in the second half of Part 2. Miranda's literary choices point to her class separation from Clegg: she imagines herself as Emma Woodhouse from Emma, as Major Barbara from Major Barbara, and as both Marianne and Eleanor from Sense and Sensibility, yet she cannot identify with Arthur Seaton of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and has no sympathy for this outrageous factory-worker protagonist. Fowles cleverly and indirectly portrays Miranda's classism, which she says she does not have, by looking at her literary choices and showing which characters she relates to best.

The theme of collection is part of this section in the form of a metaphor - Miranda as one of Clegg's butterflies: "I am one in a row of specimens. It's when I try to flutter out of line that he hates me. I'm meant to be dead, pinned, always the same, always beautiful. He knows that part of my beauty is being alive, but it's the dead me he wants. He wants me living-but-dead. I felt it terribly strongly today. That my being alive and changing and having a separate mind and having moods and all that was becoming a nuisance" (203). This quote further reveals Clegg's view of Miranda as an extension of his collection of beautiful butterflies. He loves her when she is beautiful and obedient and does not exercise her free will. In this quote, Miranda has observed that when she expresses dissent or otherwise does not act as Clegg expects, he grows increasingly upset. This situation has been exacerbated by her frequent attempts at escape. Miranda is no dead butterfly, pinned to the wall for posterity, yet this quotation reveals with creepy foreboding that she might end up this way.

In this section, Fowles also uses the language of the "New People" to describe the class warfare. "He said, the New People are still the poor people," Miranda recalls, describing G.P. "Theirs is the new form of poverty. The others hadn't any money and these haven't any soul" (207). This idea of prosperous people being impoverished or imprisoned also comes up again later in Part 2: "He doesn't believe in any other world but the one he lives in and sees. He's the one in prison; in his own hateful narrow present prison," Miranda says of Clegg (212). In both cases, the New People and Clegg are imprisoned or impoverished by their lack of knowledge and lack of desire to seek knowledge.

Continuing to enrich Miranda's language with turns of imagery, Fowles uses a simile to describe the irresponsibility that results from Clegg's new wealth: "It's like putting a blind man in a fast car and telling him to drive where and how he likes," Miranda says (210). This simile reveals how ill-equipped Clegg is to handle his newfound wealth. Fowles himself believed that this was true of much of England, and Clegg was designed to represent the entire class of New People. Here, Fowles comments not only on Clegg but on England as a whole.