Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

At one point in the novel, Miranda has just finished reading Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958), and she writes in her diary that she thinks the book and its hero, Arthur Seaton, “disgusting.” Herself an aspiring painter as well as a social activist in favor of nuclear disarmament, she hates the way Seaton “doesn’t care about anything outside his own little life. He’s mean, narrow, selfish, brutal.” What Miranda says here about Seaton she might just as well have said about Clegg, and Fowles intends for his reader to see the parallel; he also seems to beg implicitly for a comparison to be made between The Collector and Sillitoe’s novel, especially when he has Miranda write that the “most disgusting thing of all is that Alan Sillitoe doesn’t show that he’s disgusted by his young man [Seaton]”; while Sillitoe may have wanted to “attack” the society that produces such a man as Seaton, “he doesn’t make it clear.” Fowles, however, makes it quite clear in his novel that Great Britain’s class-structure has created monsters such as Clegg, the “uneducated and . . . ignorant,” the “jealous and resentful”; it has, by giving religion to people in place of education, created cliche-spouting people such as Aunt Annie, the “crabbed and...mean and...petty”; it has created “la-di-da” people such as Miranda’s parents, the “pompous and . . . phoney.”

What Fowles also makes quite...

(The entire section is 409 words.)