Often in a fiction text, interest comes from conflict between major characters, resulting from their differences. These cause disagreements and arguments, and readers find themselves taking sides with the character they can most relate to. John Fowles' 1963 novel The Collector supports this idea with its storyline revolving around conflict and completely oppositional characters. Frederick Clegg exploits his large sum of money, using it not for good, but for a cruel, ignorant and selfish operation in his kidnapping of art student Miranda. His captive completely opposes him with her beliefs, values, culture and class. Everything about them is contrasting and they find it difficult to relate to one another. Clegg knew they never had a chance together under normal circumstances, which led him to kidnap her, which was the basis for conflict in the text.
Clegg's questionable mental stability is a leading factor. His selfishness and lack of human compassion tears Miranda apart, ultimately resulting in her death. Clegg's ideas of ownership and collection reveal the major cause of conflict in the novel, showing that complete opposites can never get along.Clegg's sanity throughout the text is extremely questionable, providing a contrast to Miranda's mature and educated mindset.
She sees him as a monster, calling him "Caliban", with reference to William Shakespeare's The Tempest. He is psychopathic, leading him to do bizarre, unusual things for his personal pleasure. Throughout the novel, Clegg tries to convince the reader that he is not mad, but finally comes to his senses towards the conclusion; "I was mad, everyone else could see it, only I couldn't," (page 275). His madness leads him to inflict unnecessary pain and aching on an innocent young woman, just for the pleasure of having her there, and all she can do is accept it. Miranda keeps sane, reliving the past and looking toward the future with fading hope.
Clegg's madness is one of the reasons she gets so frustrated with him, but it also keeps her from completely hating him, as she pities him. Fowles has created two characters with contrasting mental states to create intense conflict throughout the novel.People may wonder what goes through the mind of a kidnapper as they are planning their moment of attack and Fowles has shown it clearly though the eyes of Clegg.
This character lacks the compassion to think of anyone but himself, and thus feels no guilt with his decisions. Throughout the text, he is only concerned with his own feelings, image and eluding detection. As seen in the third section, Clegg does not go to a doctor because he is afraid of what people will think of him and that there is also a possibility of him being caught. This is more important to him than Miranda's life. The hostility is revealed when Clegg kidnaps Miranda and then expects her to fall in love with him.
The reader knows immediately that this is not going to happen as "he's not human," (page 256) in her eyes. Miranda hates that he does not care about her feelings, but still insists that he loves her. His uncaring actions and selfish thoughts make him even less desirable as Miranda considers him the least considerate being on Earth. She knows that he does not care about anyone but himself, and opposes him throughout the book. Clegg's lack of emotion.