Frederick Clegg: I said, if you asked me to stop collecting butterflies, I'd do it. I'd do anything you asked me.
Miranda Grey: Except let me fly away.
The first novel of John Fowles (who was later to write The French Lieutenant's Woman
and The Magus
). Published in 1963, it tells the story of Frederick Clegg, a butterfly-collecting maniac who won 73,091 pounds and bought a house in the wilderness only to kidnap Miranda Grey, she being the girl whom he had stalked for a long time.
He imprisons her in a luxuriously furnished cellar. The story, shaped very much like a thriller, is told both from the viewpoint of the kidnapper and of his victim. It consists mainly of dialogues between the two, in which Frederick tries to talk Miranda to marrying him and she attempts to persuade him to let her out. The plot is simple, but contrasting personalities of frighteningly quiet, barbaric Frederick and impatient Miranda, who is a student of art and a novice painter, produces a lot of tension.
It was adapted for film in 1965, directed by William Wyler
, starring Terence Stamp
and Samantha Eggar.
Provides examples of:
- Affectionate Nickname: Miranda reveals that her family call her Nanda. Frederick dislikes it — he thinks Miranda is a perfect name that should not be altered.
- Antihero: Frederick, fully in the territory of Villain Protagonist by the end of the book.
- Bound and Gagged: Miranda.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Frederick is very jealous and upset when he sees Miranda in the company of young men. Sometimes, his strong jealousy determines him to fantasize about hitting her.
- The Collector: a Trope Namer.
- Creepy Basement: Frederick's house where Miranda is held has one. It's a basement without windows and with thick walls and a heavy door.
- Downer Ending: Miranda dies and Frederick has set his eyes on a new victim.
- Diary: Miranda's point of view is presented in her notes.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: After all of Miranda's escape attempts and her eventual illness and death due to Clegg's negligence, the only thing Clegg gleans from his experience is that things went south because he was too lenient a captor, and the book ends with Clegg stalking another girl, eager to put his new knowledge to use.
- Has a Type: Frederick seems to prefer pretty blonde women. The second girl he decides to kidnap looks very much like Miranda.
- Kavorka Man: G.P.
- The Kindnapper: Frederick.
- Lima Syndrome: Frederick literally adores his captive.
- May-December Romance: Between Miranda and her mentor, G.P., with him being twenty one years older than her.
- Meaningful Name: 'Miranda' means in Latin 'the one who is to be admired'.
- Mentor Ship: Between Miranda and her art teacher, G.P.
- Psychopathic Man Child: Frederick.
- Rule of Symbolism: Frederick's only hobby is collecting butterflies. He catches them by himself. He likes to look at them, because they are beautiful. And he makes them harm.
- Shout-Out: Miranda asks Frederick to bring her books to read. She re-reads Sense and Sensibility and Emma. She compares herself to Marianne and thinks she is like her, but should try to be like Elinor. She also sees herself as manipulative Emma, but her attempts to influence Frederick fail just like Emma's matchmaking schemes. She also likens Frederick to sleazy Mr Elton and her fling from university to Frank Churchill. She asks herself if G.P. is Mr Knightley. She reveals that they share a Christian name — George, which she happens to dislike.
- Shout-Out Theme Naming: Miranda has the name of the beautiful daughter of Prospero from The Tempest by Shakespeare. She also nicknames her kidnapper 'Caliban', though he tells her that his name is Ferdinand (he just happens to like this name).
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: The name references and characters correspond to The Tempest.
- Stalker with a Crush: Frederick. A very dark version as his creepy love and obsession drives him to kidnap the woman he thinks he loves.
- Stockholm Syndrome: Miranda tries very hard to fight it, but she confesses in her diary to feeling grateful at some of the things Frederick does.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension:
- Between Miranda and Frederick. From his side only...
- There was attraction between Miranda and G.P., which was a case of unresolved Teacher/Student Romance.
- Villain Protagonist: Fredrick.