55 pages 1 hour read

John Fowles

The Collector

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1963

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Character Analysis

Frederick Clegg

Frederick is an orphan from a working-class background. His father had an alcohol addiction, and it is suggested his mother was a sex worker. His Uncle Dick, the only person who loves Frederick, dies when Frederick is 15. Frederick grows up with a deep resentment of his low-class status and bitterness that no matter how much money he has, English society will never accept him as bourgeois because of his lack of cultural education.

Frederick is defined feelings of inferiority tied up in being working class in a highly class-conscious society that condescends to social climbers. Frederick wants to be bourgeois and despises the bourgeoisie for condescending to him; he feels inferior to the bourgeoisie while simultaneously believing that he’s superior—more moral, less pretentious. He subjects himself to Miranda’s insults as a type of self-abasement characteristic that reenacts the way he perceives the world.

Nevertheless, he does his best to adopt a middle-class veneer. Miranda describes Frederick as gangly with mismatched body parts. His stiff hair and overly-formal clothes are manifestations of his overall rigid demeanor, which stems from his fear of speaking or acting contrary to bourgeois manners. Frederick fails to flawlessly adopt this bearing, producing an imitation that gives away his working-class upbringing.