The Collector by John Fowles presents the “story of the abduction and imprisonment of Miranda Grey by Frederick Clegg, told first from his point of view, and then from hers by means of a diary she has kept, with a return in the last few pages to Clegg’s narration of her illness and death.” For those who have not read this novel yet, I would encourage you to do so as soon as possible!
The Collector is an example of literature that reflects multiple points of view in a broader cultural discourse where its use of intertextuality and structure of the novel each reveal different points of view. By immersing yourself in this novel, your perspective will be widen and your knowledge across subjects ranging from the broader context of intertextuality to a narrower view on the structure of literary works.
My perceptions on point of view through my experience, voice, and authorial presence act as strong, mediating rhetorical tools. My attempt is to affect positive change and persuade those all of you who haven’t read The Collector. I want to aspire you to not only read but interpret the rhetoric of literature and concepts of mind present in the novel. The following questions developed as I deciphered points of view in The Collector through literary inquiry:
Why did Fowles structure the novel in parts that reflect the mind?
The structure of the novel presents the notion of the unconscious mind, conscious mind, and interaction of both through the different parts in the novel. In “Freud And The Unconscious,” the Freudian theory of the unconscious is described as this part of the mind with exposed memories that lie outside of awareness yet continue to influence behavior (Erwin, 2009). As a viewer, this first part of the novel ties together the mind of Clegg and how he struggles in his daily life with a lack of love. In contrast, the conscious mind describes an awareness of and responding to one’s surroundings (McKean, 2005). The second part expresses an alertness through Miranda, as she documents everything from her thoughts to actions in her diary. The third part of the novel conveys the wishes, desires, hopes, and urges of Clegg revealed in his unconscious while interacting with the conscious mind. Uri Zilbersheid in “The Historical Character Of Human Nature In Freud’s Theories,” explored how Freud’s psychoanalysis investigates unconscious conflict with the repression on some tendencies of pleasure for gratification, which can become excessive and make individuals “ill.” From this reference, Freud’s psychoanalysis would conclude Clegg’s repression of this memory may contribute to what is making him “ill.” The fourth part of the novel correlations to the third part, however Clegg’s wishes, desires, and hopes to resemble within the unconscious become controlled by the conscious. The following paragraphs will further describe how the four parts of the novel are structured as parts that reflect the mind.
Part one suggests the unconscious mind by exposing Clegg’s memories that lie outside of awareness yet continue to influence his behavior. Furthermore the wishes, desires, hopes, and urges of Clegg are revealed in his unconscious. David Wesley expresses his thoughts Clegg’s urges in the “Symbolism of Butterflies in John Fowles’ Novel The Collector.” He conveys Miranda is furious with Clegg for keeping the butterflies trapped in his cabinets, that he is “hoard(ing) up all the beauty in these drawers,” (52). Clegg then refuses and sadistically plucks their wings, forever taking away their ability to fly away. I think Miranda should be furious with the way Clegg treats the butterflies because they are a direct reflection of herself, however this is not enough to stop the urges of the unconscious, Clegg. This specific urge to trap the beauty in the world illustrates a psychological battle where the unconscious overpowers the conscious, and nothing stands a chance at gaining liberation.
Part two illustrates the conscious mind by depicting an awareness of and responding to the surroundings through Miranda’s diary, which keeps a daily record of events and experiences. Annie Myers describes Miranda’ writing style in “sharp contrast to Frederick’s narration, as flowing and emotional, artistic and evocative, a very noticeable departure from the stilted, clinical fact-telling that characterized the first part of the book. I agree with Myers and think Miranda manifests a new characters in the novel that discovers a voice of awareness and consciousness to the surrounding world. Miranda presents an alert mindset, for instance, she declares an accurate version of Clegg when she writes in her diary, “The devil wouldn’t be devilish and rather attractive, but like him.” The statement expressed by Miranda describes the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them though Clegg’s point of view, construct reality.
Part three portrays the interactions between the unconscious and conscious mind. One example is Clegg’s impulse to find a doctor for Miranda influences him to go to the doctor’s office. He becomes conscious and is aware of the world around him he represses the interactions with the peopl in the waiting room. In the novel, Clegg states “it felt strange … they all seemed to look at me, one old woman wouldn’t her their eyes off me, I thought I must look peculiar in some way (p 289).” This moment ties together the mind of Clegg through how he struggles in his daily life with failing to interactive and be aquatinted with other individuals. Furthermore, the lack of awareness demonstrates the unconscious mind controlling the conscious mind.
In the fourth part of the novel, the interaction between the conscious and unconscious mind is reflected through Clegg’s thoughts about kid napping another girl. He says “I have not made up my Marian … , this time it won’t be love, it would just be for the interest of the thing to compare them (p 305).” This remark prompts Clegg as becoming aware and considering his surroundings. Even though this kidnapping would be for a comparison, this abduction could motivate Clegg to imagine the possibilities of fulfilling his forgoing urges and desires. The fourth part introduces the structure of the mind and explains how the conscious is not completely inaccessible to the unconscious mind, because it can the affects behavior and emotions of the unconscious mind.
The structure of the novel divides Miranda and Clegg’s interpretations into four different parts, which each convey a different point of view on the situation and encourage readers to think in a similar manner.
How does intertextuality impact the characters and the audience?
The disclosed intertextuality reveals a particular attitude or way of considering a matter. The relationship between text utilizes dialogism, or text of different tones or viewpoints to describe interactions or contradictions important to the text’s interpretation. Miranda connects to the following novels as she searches for her identity and validity, however becomes lost in the Gran Narratives that are not depicting reality:
Emma by Jane Austen prompts Miranda to explore youthful hubris and the perils of misconstrued romance. Austen introduces the title character as “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich.” As Miranda writes in her diary, she calls herself Emma and refers to her headstrong and self-satisfied. Without realizing the underlying connection, Miranda and Emma are rather spoiled and greatly overestimates their own matchmaking abilities, and blind to the dangers of meddling in other people’s lives, both have imaginations and perceptions that often lead them astray. In contrast, Beatrix communicates if the heroine of a novel directly states while reading Jane Austen that sometimes she feels just like Emma, and sometimes like Marianne, then it’s no big deal to notice the literary parallels (Beatrix, 2010). I disagree and think Fowles is direct and obvious to with Miranda’s personality to allow the audience to fully comprehend the main character.
Shakespeare’s The Tempest reveals that beautiful life and human love disappear in Fowles’s text as he suppresses human nature and a dissatisfying postmodern life. Caliban, the son of the former king on the island, is considered an outcast and monster as he torments the people. Miranda refers to Clegg as Caliban, however Clegg refers to himself as Ferdinand, whom Miranda falls in love with. Furthermore, Yorum Gönder communicates Miranda in The Tempest reaches to happiness and gets married to man she loves, while Miranda in The Collector dies because of malaria without seeing the light (Gönder, 2013). Fowles’ references to each character allude the audience into the latest in literary theory. This undertaking encourages the reader stand back and comment on the action, which further prevents the reader from “losing himself in the story.”
Nabokov’s Lolita portrays Humbert’s crazy possession of the nymphet Lolita. Liles further communications this crazy possession resembles Clegg’s fascination to Miranda and imprisonment of her (Liles, 2013). I agree and believe this plot is similar to the plot of The Collector, whichalso shows the objectification and dehumanization of women. A distinct intertextual relationship develops as Clegg’s narration and Miranda’s progress. The misunderstanding and absence of traditional values imprisons and restricts Clegg and Miranda on each other’s opinionated understandings.
Sinbad the Sailor describes the story of an old man of the sea who embarked on seven adventures to find wealth. On the fifth adventure he encounters an old man who bosses him around so he gives the old man wine to get him drunk and then kills him with a rock. Yorum Gönder communicates Clegg is like Old Man of the Sea because he doesn’t let her go (Gönder, 2013). I agree with acquisition because n the novel Miranda states, “I know what you are. You’re the Old Man of the Sea. The horrid old man Sinbad had to carry on his back. That’s what you are. You get on the back of everything vital, everything trying to be honest and free, and you bear it down.” This story inspires Miranda to get Clegg drunk in an attempt to escape, however Clegg is ignorant and selfish and doesn’t fall for Miranda’s schemes.
I hope these intertextual interpretations will enrich your understanding of the main characters and the diverse themes of the novel, and also deepen the novel’s social significance and aesthetic values. Additionally, I hope to have the deconstruction of the main characters and structure of the novel provide readers with an altering reality, where the relationship Fowles connects to Freud’s concepts of the mind.
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