"The Collector"

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"The Collector"
2012-01-16 16:36:29
collector John Fowles

"The Collector" Quotes and Analysis
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  1. “Those were the days I let myself have the bad dreams. She cried or usually knelt. Once I let myself dream I hit her across the face... Perhaps that was when it all started.”
    Frederick dreams introduce the reader to the theme of control; in the “bad dreams” Frederick is always in power and Miranda is submissive. These disturbing images make the reader question Frederick’s motives for wanting Miranda – does he love her or does he love to control her?
  2. “the night before they went she had a solemn talk with me about how I wasn’t to marry – that is, without her meeting the bride.”
    Growing up, Aunt Aunnie was always very controlling of Frederick. Constantly being controlled as a child may have contributed to Frederick’s irrepressible need for control in his adult life.
  3. "She was mine."
    Frederick dehumanises Miranda: the word choice of "mine" suggests that Miranda is nothing more than an object for Frederick to have, or like his buterflies, collect.
  4. “It was like a joke mousetrap I saw once, the mouse just went on and things moved, it couldn’t ever turn back, but went on and on into cleverer and cleverer traps.”
    • The capturing of Miranda was just a game to
    • Frederick. Comparing her to a mouse shows that she is an experiment (he the scientist studying a species) to iron out any flaws before he moves on to his next victim. The comparison dehumanises Miranda which
    • something she has fought against throughout her ordeal. Frederick is clearly cleverer than the reader first realised – everything was planned out perfectly and was something he took a great deal of pleasure from. It all boils down to his need for control.
  5. “I stood by the window and used to look down over the road over the frosting and sometimes I’d see her. In the evening I marked it in my observation diary, at first with an X, and when I knew her name with M.”
    Fowles introduces the reader to the theme of voyeurism through Frederick. Frederick’s spying and stalker like behaviour is similar to that of a hunter marking when he sees his prize game. Frederick is obviously clever and resourceful as he managed to find out Miranda’s name without engaging in any contact with her or people close to her.
  6. “Seeing her always made me feel like I was catching a rarity... A Pale Clouded Yellow for instance, I mean words like elusive or sporadic... More for the real connoisseur.”
    At first, these comparisons appear to because the reader assumes that Frederick compares Miranda to a butterfly to highlight her beauty. However, as the novel progresses these comparisons become more sinister and the reader realises that Miranda is not a wild, free butterfly but a collected one; trapped in Frederick’s house like a butterfly trapped in one of his glass jars.
  7. "She was my guest at last, and that was all I cared about."
    The euphimsm of "my guest" is ironic as the connotations of "guest" are respected and present by free will suggesting that Miranda is there by choice which is obviously untrue as she is essentially a prisoner. This also highlights the delusional qualities in Frederick as he truly believes that she is his "guest" and emphasises his obsessive nature - "that was all I cared about".
  8. "It was cold out of the sun, damp, nasty."
    The description of the houses relates directly to Frederick's character; whilst down in the cellar his personality is different to the one he portrays to the rest of the world, he hides a dark secret down there. Frederick is aloof in nature and keeps his private life (Miranda) concealed, hence the "dark", "damp" cellar in which to hide her. Each adjective describing the house is fitting to Frederick's character - without Miranda ("his sun") he becomes cold.
  9. "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."
    Mirand likens herself to a butterfly to highlight the theme of control. She recognises that Frederick feels the need to control her: "It's when I try to flutter out of line that he hates me." The last sentence "but it's the dead me he wants" is a foreshadowing used by Fowles to prepare the reader for the outcome of the novel.
  10. "He showed me today what he called his killing-bottle. I'm trapped in it. Fluttering against the glass. Because I can see through it I think I can escape. But it's all an illusion. A thick round wall of glass."
    Miranda knows that she is unlikely to escape but refuses to accept this as reality. She clings to the hope that either Frederick will let her go or she will eventually, through her "fluttering", escape. She knows that if she gives in to him then she will feel, essentially, dead as to her living is being free.
  11. "But I know I must save up my attempts. Outwit him. Plan ahead.
    In a sense, Miranda has sealed her own fate. Frederick continually informs her that all he wants her to do is to "get to know" him. The disregard Miranda shows towards Frederick, focusing solely on escaping, may contribute to the lack of empathy the reader feels towards her.
  12. "I have to give him a name. I'm going to call him Caliban."
    Miranda calls Frederick "Caliban" as she likens his obsession and servitude towards her to that of Caliban's towards Miranda in Shakespeare's "The Tempest". However, Miranda may also call him Caliban because she senses that Frederick has a hidden agenda and more sinister motives behind his 'kindness'.
  13. "I know I have to steel myself against not being freed. I tell myself that it's a chance in a hundred that he'll keep his word.
    But he must keep his word."
    Miranda refuses to consider that she may never escape; highlighting the bubble that she has created for herself to shut out the terrible situation she finds herself in and focus solely on her need to be free. The word choice of "must" highlights the strong moral principles Miranda has and believes everyone else should adhere to.
  14. "The whole idea was sudden, like a stroke of genius almost."
    Frederick's tone is defensive - like he is trying to convince the reader that he did not buy the van with the intention of kidnapping Miranda - and for this reason I do not believe him. I think that the capture of Miranda was premeditated. The word choice of "genius" highlight that Frederick is delusional and lacks morals as he does not believe he is doing anything wrong."
  15. "And I wouldn't have pretended even like that if I hadn't all the time and money I wanted."
    "Power corrupts, a teacher I had always said. And money is Power."
    Without the money from his pools win, Frederick may have never carried out his unethical plan. Through Frederick, I believe Fowles is trying to convey that some people do not have the responsiblity that comes with money.
  16. "Uncle Dick would always stick up for me."
    Uncle Dick was responsible for boosting the little self-esteem that Frederick had. "always" highlights that Frederick needed the support of his uncle, regularly, that he frequently was scolded by his aunt. This emphasises that, as his aunt "despised" his collecting of butterflies, his uncle supported him.
  17. "My cousin Mabel once said to me (when we were kids in a quarrel) she was a woman of the streets who went off with a foreigner."
    Frederick has never had a healthy, stable relationship with a woman - he has a non-existant mother, a controlling aunt and a taunting cousin. This, along with the resentment he feels towards his mother for abandoning him, may have contributed to his misogynistic view of women.
  18. "Like a really good sacrifice at chess."
    Miranda is desperate to gain her freedom; so much so that she is willing to sacrifice her body and her moral principles in an attempt to gain it back. This is uncharacteristic behaviour and the reader understands her choice because her surivival instinct is so strong. She truly believes that she is giving Frederick what he wants but does not understand how wrong she is.
  19. "I was like putty in her hands... I kept thinking stop it, stop it, it's wrong, but I was too weak."
    Frederick cannot cope with Miranda's affection (as he has never been shown it before) or his emotions. He does not know how to cope with the way his mind and body is reacting. "too weak" highlights that Miranda's actions are making Frederick feel inadequate, inexperienced, shocked and ashamed. This experience humilates Frederick and results in his feeling that he has lost control.
  20. "You're no better than a common street woman, I said. I used to respect you because I thought you were above what you done. Not like the rest. But you're jsut the same. You'd do any disgusting thing to get what you want."
    The seduction scene is a moment of self-realisation for Frederick; he and Miranda can never be. Both Miranda and Frederick have lost their self-respect and dignity and both feel comtempt towards the other. Frederick no longer holds Miranda on a pedestal, he has become disillusioned with her and now sees her as "common". Frederick also feels inferior because of his loss of control and eventually finds a way to gain control again...
  21. "I took her till I had no bulbs left."
    Forcing Miranda to pose nude for photographs is metaphorical rape as it is a violation against her. This is Frederick's way of regaining control after his humilation in the seduction scene.