The Chaser By John Collier Theme

What is theme of "The Chaser" by John Collier?


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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Collier displayed a negative and cynical attitude about marriage in several of his stories, including "The Chaser," "De Mortuis," and "Back for Christmas." The theme of "The Chaser" is not about love but about marriage. Naturally marriage is usually the result of love, but it is marriage, not love, that results in such disillusionment that some people, according to the old man in the story, will result to violent means, as well as considerable expense, in order to escape from it. What is striking about "The Chaser" is not so much that the old man is selling a love potion but that he is offering a "chaser," or "antidote," or "glove cleaner" to counteract the effect of the love potion. It is an undetectable poison which the man may use to get rid of his wife without getting caught. Both "De Mortuis" and "Back for Christmas" are stories about a man who murders his wife and buries her in the basement. The old man's assessment of marriage is that it becomes too cloying and claustrophobic. Many other writers have expressed their disillusionment with marriage. One notable example is Leo Tolstoy and his story "The Kreutzer Sonata." Another negative assessment of marriage is contained in August Strindberg's collection of stories in two volumes titled "Getting Married."

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Possible themes of "The Chaser" could be love vs. lust, infatuation, or the illusive power of love.

When Alan falls for Diana at some time before the story begins, he falls hard. He wants nothing more than to be with her all the time. Somehow he hears about a potion that will make her feel likewise, meaning she obviously doesn't now. So after giving her the potion, his feelings seem to fade, or he must get annoyed because he eventually goes back to the old man for "the chaser" a potion needed after the love potion to remove the effects of the love potion.

This theme applies to all love relationships because maintaining love after the "honeymoon" period is difficult for both parties. We value monogamy in our society and therefore determine that these types of fake attempts to fix the difficulties of a love relationship do not work. This is the intention of Collier's piece.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, the theme of this story is love -- it is a story about the true nature of love.  The author is telling us that love is an illusion and that if we had someone truly act the way we think (when we are in love) that we want them to act, we would want to kill them or to kill ourselves.

In the story, the old man tells Austen about all the ways in which Diana will act once she takes the love potion.  Austen is really excited.  He thinks that it will be wonderful for her to be devoted to him and to him only.

But the old man knows that Austen will become miserable.  This is why he'll sell the love potion for $1 -- so that Austen will be back later for the $5000 poison.

So the theme here is that love (the way we think of it) is really a terrible thing and that a person who got it would soon regret having it.

muhammedalhajjey | Student

The theme is that the love must be won not bought

kandacedf1 | Student

love is only a temporary illusion.  hope that helps! :)

callmesharp | Student

The theme of this, i believe is temptation, the old man is a satanic symbol preying on the weak minded [alan] and reaping from the benefits..