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Published: 08-10-2019

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“Frederick Clegg is a Failed Man”: Punishments in The Collector

John Fowles’ 1963 novel The Collector is a deeply disturbing, intensely psychological book based about the principles of beauty, energy, manage, and class. The story follows Fred Clegg by way of his capture and abuse of Miranda Grey, an eye-catching young art student from London. Fowles reveals Clegg as a damaged man who can not sustain a partnership with another human. As a outcome of this damage to his psyche, Clegg blames Miranda for his problems, and he is abusive and manipulative towards her in a way that perhaps reveals a lot more about his character than he intends.

A single essential problem with Fred’s considering is his concept of blame. He never ever admits to becoming at fault for the capture of Miranda, rather blaming the victim for his actions. He repeats this pattern anytime he does anything unsavory to her, e.g. the two instances of ‘camera rape.’ This mentality reflects a typical attitude among males at the time this novel was written, and indeed nowadays. His method of shifting the blame is typified by the line on pg. 124, where he blames Miranda for her own death, saying “I was acting as if I killed her, but she died, following all.” He claims that her dying was her personal fault, in spite of his denying her a medical professional whilst she was clearly dying of pneumonia.

Clegg’s ability to type a appropriate sexual connection with somebody is in a similarly morbid state. When Miranda attempts to appeal to Clegg’s physical lust, she is significantly shocked by what she encounters. She finds that he is physically incapable of intercourse, which he claims is purely physiological, in spite of the clear psychological notes to his situation, and the way he views all issues sexual as “dirty” and “nasty.” Following Miranda has completed trying break Fred (mentally) by way of sex, Fred loses his respect for her, and goes on to in fact say, “All I did later was because of that evening.” Clegg’s idea of respect is a curious one, and he seems to think that Miranda is distinct from other ladies. As he says at the start of the book, “She was not like some lady you don’t respect so you do not care what you do.” This statement illustrates a belief within Clegg which is deeply flawed: the concept that if you do not respect a woman you can do what ever you want to her. So it is this night when Miranda reveals herself to Clegg, lets him see her as a entire, when he loses respect for her. He punishes her for his misunderstanding of basic social guidelines, reflecting his misunderstanding of the class structure.

For Clegg, the unobtainable is infuriating, like a butterfly he can not catch. Likewise, Miranda’s educated nature and cultured background are mocking jabs at his personal social status, the distance in between them apparently her fault, for being of a larger class than he is. When captor and captive talk eye-to-eye for the very first time, on pg. 17, Clegg infers that one explanation he makes the capture is simply because “you wouldn’t be noticed dead with me in London.” This shows that he believes she will adore him, in some weird Stockholm-syndrome way, because there is no-a single to see her with him. Clegg’s statement implies that it is Miranda’s fault for being of a ‘higher breeding stock’ then Clegg, and that as a outcome she must endure, so that he can be with her without having the impediment of class boundaries. It is clear from the starting of the novel that Fred Clegg is deranged, but the accurate proof of this comes when Miranda says, “oh god, you’re not a man, if only you were a man.” This goes some way to infuriating Clegg, and he then says “I had had sufficient, most men would have had it long just before,” as if Miranda need to be grateful he has not abused her to a higher degree. It appears that he believes that because Miranda is not grateful, she must be punished, as if not raping her is very good of him. Clegg believes that Miranda, and likely ladies in general, need to be thankful to men for all they do, and what they do not do. For Miranda’s waste of his time and work, he believes he need to punish her.

Frederick Clegg is a damaged man socially and psychologically, a dangerous individual with misguided concepts about society and life in common. His assumptions of class, the unobtainable, blame, and his failure to be sexually capable all function in his slow and unhalting degradation of his captive. His capture and abuse of Miranda sees him apply his biases, opinions and pre-conceptions shamelessly, revealing aspects of his own personality which will eventually serve to kill Miranda.
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