The Art of Language and Deception in Lolita

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Dan Huynh

The Art of Language and Deception in Lolita
Humbert Humbert is a man of many layers; many morals, and many sides. In his own words, he is Humbert the deadly charming sophisticate, Humbert the lover, Humbert the monster, and above all Humbert the the manipulator. In the Lolita by Vladimir Nobokov, Humbert uses ornate language and style to manipulate the audience and invoke a trust and cordialness that leads to a view of him as a sympathetic pedofile. Humbert's narration is full of wordplay and hidden meanings. He is playing with our minds throughout the novel, slowly gaining our trust and manipulating us. The complexity of Humbert’s narration creates an interesting and enjoyable flow to his confession that he uses to his advantage, since it is at some points quite difficult to piece together true facts and details of his story. His narration spontaneously changes; from a serious and eloquent demeanor, to a playful tone riddle-like tone with wordplay, as well as from his monstrous and uncontrollable pedophiliac yearnings, to a somewhat sensible and remorseful individual. His change in voice allows him to commit crimes in one hand, while fooling us with his ornate language in the other. For example, in a child-like mix-up of letters, Humbert blurts out “What’s the Katter with misses?” I muttered (word-control gone) into her hair.” This is quite a setback from the Humbert who begins his phrases with “Gentlemen of the jury!”(Nobokov 69), following it by providing well thought out defenses for his nymph desires. By teasing the jury with the two sides, he shows an playful and vulnerable side to him that could not be completely ruthless, as well as a level-headed moral being who is simply conflicted with an uncontrollable desire. In addition, Humbert addresses the audience in this way to give them a feeling of authority towards a man who freely admits his guilt, which keeps his manipulation game in check most of the time. The fact that Humbert mentions...
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