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Submitted Literature

The Collector

By John Fowles


Fowles’ novel focuses on notions of obsession, stalking and kidnap, as well as possible erotomania.  However, the protagonist appears to have a total lack of erotic feelings towards the girl he kidnaps, justifying his actions to himself at points by referring to the purity of their ‘relationship’.  Fowles comments on wider philosophical themes too – beauty, existentialism and nature.  There is, throughout the text, an interesting butterfly motif which provides a philosophical rationale for the narrator’s madness. Caging something beautiful and killing it in order to preserve its beauty actually removes all the beauty inherent within it, but the tension between these paradoxical positions leads to mental disordering.  There is little in the way of redemption at the end of this dark narrative.

Key Themes:

  • Isolation
  • Obsessions
  • Revealing Reads

Significant Quotes / Pages

69-70 –  “And mad, I said.  Do you think a madman would have treated you the way I have?  I’ll tell you what a madman would have done.  He’ve killed you by now.  Like that fellow Christie.  I suppose you think I’m going for you with a carving knife or something.  (I was really fed up with her that day).  How daft can you get?  All right, you think I’m not normal keeping you here like this.  Perhaps I’m not.”

95 – “I know what some would think, they would think my behaviour peculiar.  I know most men would only have thought of taking unfair advantage and their would be plenty of opportunities.  I could have used the pad.  Done what I liked, but I am not that sort, definitely not that sort at all.  She was like some caterpillar that takes three months to feed up trying to do it in a few days.   […]  I am different, old-fashioned, I enjoy thinking about the future and letting it all develop in good time […] I just wanted to have her, and safe at last”

Reference: John, Fowles. 1963. The Collector. London: Vintage, 1998


- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Friday 20th March 2009