John Fowles Novels Essay, Research Paper
In the novels of John Fowles, the primary character is usually a thirty to forty year old male who is searching for his identity in some way. In this journey that the protagonist takes in his search for identity, he often accompanied by a female and only through his relationship with the woman can he become closer to finishing his journey for self-awareness. In The Collector, Frederick Clegg searches for his place in society and for something that will turn him into the loving prince (Ferdinand) he envisions himself to be. Miles Green of Mantissa is a writer plagued in his own mind by a woman of his creation. In effect Miles has to create a woman to help him find his identity. In the novella, The Ebony Tower, David Williams comes to a remote manor happy with his life until he finds that he is more and feels more after meeting Diana (a resident of the manor). The women in the novels all help men to bring out emotions and when the softer side of a man is exposed, the women will sense the man?s ability to love and to feel. It is this feeling of love within a man that makes the man whole, thereby making him feel the essence of life.
Women bring out the softer side of men, revealing characteristics that would otherwise remain hidden. They enable men to express emotions and thoughts in ways other than aggression. In the presence of women, men soon become affectionate, considerate and sometimes very lovable. It would seem that in The Collector the male protagonist Frederick Clegg knows this fact. Clegg has a conceived identity of what he would like himself to be and feels that this woman he has pictured as ideal will aid him in making that identity a reality. When Clegg tells Miranda his name he tells her that it is Ferdinand because he ?always liked Ferdinand?There?s something foreign and distinguished about it? (Collector, 37) Clegg pictures himself as a dashing prince who will rescue Miranda, and she will love him for it. This picture twists itself in his mind from a bold rescue to a capture. ?That was the day I first gave myself the dream that came true. It began where she was being attacked by a man and I ran up and rescued her. Then somehow I was the man that attacked her, only I didn?t hurt her; I captured her and drove her off in the van to a remote house and there I kept her captive in a nice way. Gradually she came to know me and like me and the dream grew into one about our living in a nice modern house, married, with kids and everything. (Collector, 15) While this a nice way for Clegg to envision himself it is a far cry from the truth. As the novel progresses and it becomes clear to Clegg that Miranda is not the woman he dreamed about it also becomes clear to the reader that Clegg is not the man he dreamed about. He resorts to acts of violence, meanwhile lying to himself all the time about how he is good and kind and gentle and he is doing this because Miranda will love him. At one point he after she tries to escape he drugs her and strips her to her bra and panties and then proceeds to take pictures. (Collector, 91) In the end, Clegg proves he never really cared for Miranda because despite her serious medical condition he lets her die. ?Her hands were like ice, but she was breathing?she was cold all over, she began to shiver terribly, and then to sweat more and she was delirious?[I tried] to help her to drink tea but it made her cough?I forgot to say she had nasty yellow pimples one corner of her lips. And she didn?t smell fresh and clean like before.? (Collector, 283) In the final portion of the novel Clegg has picked out a new girl to kidnap and compares her with Miranda, ?She isn?t as pretty as Miranda, of course, in fact she?s only an ordinary shop-girl, but that was my mistake before, aiming too high?? (Collector, 304) At the end of the novel Clegg seems to have realized more of what he truly is because he knows that his new victim will not be for the purposes of love but merely study. Miranda has brought out more of the true Clegg than the envisioned Clegg, helping him with his identity whether he wished to acknowledge it or not.
In Mantissa the protagonist is an amnesiac novelist named Miles Green who is hospitalized under the care of the heroine, a self-metamorphosing physician named Dr. Delfie (Erato). Miles Green explores various philosophical thoughts he has through a series of debates with Erato. Erato, his muse, is a creation of his own mind and he utilizes to explore his own intellect, reason, and sense. He could not find his identity on his own so he is forced to create a woman to aid him in his journey. In the beginning of the novel, after Dr. Delfie administers a ?treatment?, Nurse Cory brings him a small sheaf of papers, cradled in her arms, which she refers to as “a lovely little story.” He begins to wonder if his lost identity is that of “a mere novelist or something”. (Mantissa, 44) In Part II of Mantissa, Erato and Miles get into an argument and when Miles turns to leave, Miles cannot find a door in the wall. Erato tells him that he cannot walk out of his own brain. Miles now accuses her of dictating to him, and whines that he, as author, feels as “written” as she does as a character. She shows him that there is a door, after all, but when he opens it, he sees only a reflection of himself and the room behind him. (Mantissa, 123) This as good as blatant symbolism makes it clear to the reader that Miles Green is stuck inside his own head and can not get out without Erato to open the door.
In The Ebony Tower we meet David Williams and English art critic and color-field painter. He arrives to interview an older painter by the name of William Breasley in his home in the old woods of Brittany in Northern France. Here David meets Diana, a resident at the manor and student of Breasley?s. He is immediately interested by her manner and seeming coldness. (Ebony Tower, 6) In this enchanted place David loses himself from his reality that contains his wife Beth and falls into life with Diana. After the second night?s dinner, Diana tells David more about herself. They then decide to take a walk in the garden, where David kisses Diana and she responds with passion. He hangs back, and she senses that sexual intercourse would be a mistake. “She had broken away; and he had let her, fatal indecision.” (Ebony Tower, 85) He then tries to persuade her to come to bed with him, but she goes to her room and locks the door. Diana has awakened feelings in David that he hasn?t felt in a long time. He believes that he has both come alive and been prevented from living, that he has both lost his principles and feared to act against them.
Diana, Erato, and Miranda all brought out in the men with whom they interacted something they had not known existed within them. Miranda brought out Clegg?s true nature though he denied it to himself every step of the way. Erato was Miles Green?s tool to explore his own consciousness and Diana brought about something in David that he had never felt before. Since forever and a day, men have needed relationships with women to feel more complete and this point is clearly seen in how all of Fowles? male protagonists require a woman to help them discover more about themselves.