Short summary - The Collector - John Fowles

British literature summaries -

Short summary - The Collector
John Fowles

The narrative is on behalf of a young man named Frederick Clegg, who serves as the clerk in the Town Hall. The action takes place near London. Frederic's story is a love story, but over time, the reader understands that the hero’s expression of this love is not entirely healthy.

Frederick is in love with a girl named Miranda Gray, a student at an art school. But Clegg is introverted, since childhood he has no interest in anything but collecting butterflies. He lacks the courage to meet a girl when she arrives from London on vacation.

Once Frederick wins a large amount of money at the races. This allows him to quit, send his relatives abroad and buy a house in the wilderness. The idea of abducting Miranda arose by chance. «At first it seemed to me that some person was attacking her, and I was saving her. Then it somehow turned out that this man was myself, only I didn’t hurt her, I didn’t do any harm. Well, like I took her to a secluded house and kept her there like a captive, but in a good way, without any. Gradually, she found out how I fell in love .. ". Soon, this plan was translated into reality. In the new country house, Clegg turned out to be an old spacious basement, which served as a dungeon for Miranda. Frederick tracked her down one evening, pressed a rag with chloroform to his mouth, and dragged him into a van intended to transport equipment.

Clegg didn’t really plan anything bad and, until the very end, counted on the love of the kidnapped. He spent almost all his money on it, furnishing a room in the basement in the way that Miranda might like: books about art, elegant furniture, paintings, dresses ...

On the very first day, she recognized him. Out of confusion, the kidnapper began to invent a story with a customer in the person of a certain Mr. Singleton, but a quick-witted girl saw through him. Clegg had to admit everything. But contrary to the expectations of the hero, Miranda was in no hurry to rush to his neck. She called him crazy, but had a conversation. Moreover, the young man did not use violence, calling the captive his guest. But Miranda did not want to come to terms with her fate. Is it a joke - she was deprived of her liberty, besides, she did not believe Clegg for a long time, waiting for a more insidious intent. She nicknamed her captor Kaliban (the name of the hero of Shakespeare's play "The Storm").

Meanwhile, days passed, Clegg fed his captive gourmet dishes, talked to her and waited for the response feelings to arise. They did not appear soon. But it was not love, but pity. Clegg talked a lot about himself, about his passion for butterflies, about his feelings for Miranda. The girl quickly understood his poor spiritual world. The caliban was empty inside. He did not know how to appreciate art, and all his butterflies were dead. All but one - Miranda herself. And that scared Caliban.

Miranda did not stop fighting. There were attempts to escape, there were hunger strikes. Clegg did not understand why she did not believe him. After all, he was not going to harm her. They agreed that Clegg would let her go in a month. He thought that during this time Miranda would fall in love with him.

But the girl only thought how to escape. She managed to persuade Clegg to take her upstairs and even allow her to take a bath. Up there, she saw how her "master" lives. He showed her his butterflies. Clegg's other hobby was photographing. But neither photographs nor butterflies delighted Miranda, she called them dead beauty. And the tasteless atmosphere of the rooms in the house made her sick.

Another attempt to escape was unsuccessful. Miranda decided to trick the offender by pretending to be sick, but Clegg quickly saw through her. The secret note to relatives was also unable to pass unnoticed by the eyes of Caliban. These games gradually infuriated him. She could be courteous with him, and then did another dirty trick. Craving for will and love of life were in her blood.

Finally, the term of its imprisonment has expired. On this day, Frederick intended to make her an offer. The ring was in his pocket. Miranda went upstairs, they had dinner. When it came to marriage, Clegg realized that the girl never fell in love with him, moreover, she mocked him. Of course, there was no question of any liberation. At that moment, when the girl learned the terrible truth, when all her dreams and hopes were destroyed, a car drove outside the window. The girl tried to escape through the window, already broke it, but the swab with chloroform once again euthanized her consciousness. Pulling the girl back to the basement, Clegg could not resist the temptation to photograph her in one underwear.

A few days after that, Miranda did not speak with Clegg. Having made another escape attempt, she decided on a more desperate act. Once again persuading Frederick to let her go upstairs, the girl began to seduce Clegg. She knelt down on him, then kissed him several times. Seeing that this did not help, Miranda threw off all her clothes. But her efforts were in vain, Clegg mistook them for trying to buy freedom (this was so). In addition, he confessed to his male impotence.

Who knows how much they would have fought so much with each other, if Miranda had not become seriously ill in one day. She had a strong cough, she ate nothing and did not leave her prison for several days. Frederick considered this a new move on the part of his prisoner. And when I realized that she was not playing the play, it was too late.

In the second part of the novel, we learn that Miranda kept a diary all these days. Actually, the second part contains entries from the girl’s diary. From them it becomes clear to the reader what thoughts the hostage visited. Thus, the author gives us two points of view on what is happening.


In the third part, Caliban returns to the story. This is a very small part that describes the last days of Miranda. She died of an illness. At first, Frederick wanted to kill himself next to her, fearing that people would learn about this whole story. But then his dark side prevailed, giving birth to a real maniac. He buried Miranda in the garden near the house, cleaned out the basement and began to prepare for a new hunt.

«I have not decided finally about Marianne (one more M! I heard how I called her department head by name). Only this time there will be no love here, it will be an interest in the matter, to compare them, and for that other, which I would like to do, say, in more detail, and I myself will teach her how to do it. And clothes will do. Well, of course, this one I’ll immediately explain who is the boss and what is expected of her. » This concludes the confession of Frederick Clegg.