John Fowles The Collector. AP British Literature: Pick a novel of literary merit in which a character in the novel is decidedly evil but which the reader holds sympathy for.MLA style.

Essay by QueenBastetHigh School, 12th gradeA-, May 2002

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In John Fowles' novel The Collector (New York: Little, Brown and Company: 1963) Ferdinand Clegg, an amateur entomologist, kidnaps Miranda, a beautiful artist, and holds her in an underground room. Though his actions alone condemn him as evil and immoral, the motive, his upbringing, strong sense of values and his undying adoration of Miranda, causes the reader to overlook the actions of Clegg and relate to him. The vicious way Miranda treats Clegg, who is of a lower social status, makes the reader sympathize with Clegg, dulling the evil nature of his crime.

Ferdinand Clegg, raised by his Aunt Annie, holds a very high set of standards for women. His mother, "was a woman of the streets who went off with a foreigner"(5). Clegg here began his hatred of loose or immoral women. His morality in itself makes him seem less villainous and certainly not evil. He says he "always hated vulgar women, especially girls"(5).

He never for a moment thinks of raping Miranda. He is in love with her and refuses to hurt her or make her unhappy. Ferdinand feels that he would do anything to know Miranda, to please her and be her friend, to be able to watch her openly and love her (14).

The reader cannot help but sympathize with Ferdinand because of the tragic nature of Clegg's treatment by others. Clegg won a large sum of money (73,000 British pounds) in a lottery. Although money is sometimes said to be the road to happiness, Clegg's newfound money leads only to more hardship. He explains:

When you don't have money, you always think things

will be very different after. [But] they really

despised us for having all that money and not knowing

what to do with it. They still treated me...