Art is in essence the most profound way of expressing the human creativity and the artist is the one who is completely in touch with their emotions, without getting lost in an ocean of explanations nor looking for the truth, the artist being capable of creating their own truth. John Fowles realistically describes how not only we label anyone but also the artists.
“I hate scientists who collect things, who classify and name them and later forget about them completely. The same goes for art. They label a painter as being an impressionist, cubist or something else, they place them inside some drawer and they no longer think of them as being a human being who is painting.”
Young Frederick Cleg, an antisocial introvert who is a city hall clerk, is enthusiastically captivated by collecting butterflies. Thus, his small hobby along with a sum of money won at the lottery ends up taking most of his time and materializing his blameworthy wishes in a reality that is cruel for another being, Miranda Grey.
Miranda is a granted student at Slade and a supporter in theory of equality between social classes, meanwhile Fred is frustrated by his origins, misery and lack of culture, the two coming from two completely different worlds of the same English society.
This story is written from the perspectives of the main characters, the book being divided in three parts: the first and third parts are narrated by Fred and the second one is the journal rather sketched by Miranda who was in captivity.
Fowles does more than a parallel to Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Not only the name of the heroine but also identifying the name of Frederick with Ferdinand, the characters themselves are reminiscent of the ones in this work.
I was determined to read and reread this book thanks to Fowles’ ability to draw the characters – especially their psychologic profile – and more so that feeling of me being part of the story is so alive and captivating. The reader can be close to calling themself Miranda and shedding tears because of the freedom they lost.
The ending, on the other hand, made me value more my freedom and my passion for art. We are free, but we’re deliberately locking ourselves in a box, then another side of us will dry up carefully our wings and will stick us in an album labeled “Who I am.”
Am I an artist? An ignorant? I’ve no idea and it doesn’t matter. Maybe tomorrow I’ll find my identity in some other place though.