Lolita is a complex story of passion, obsession, and manipulation. In the forward, Psychologist John Ray, Jr., introduces the story; "Lolita, or the Confession of a White Widowed Male,"(Nabokov, Vladmir Lolita, 3) as written by a middle-aged European pedophile named Humbert Humbert. The essentials of this title immediately strike you as controversial considering that a lolita is a promiscuous young girl and a confession is an admission of one's sins. Hum is viewed as the victimizer by others, but views himself as the victim. He blames Lolita for his disposition, but also feels responsible for causing Lolita so much pain. How can a twelve-year-old girl have so much power over an adult? Who is the victim and who is the victimizer? In the following essay this topic of discussion will be examined thoroughly as we explore Humbert and his love interest, Lolita.
The novel is written in first person narrative which creates a pragmatic depiction of Humbert; an obsessive, disillusioned and deviant character. He is full of contradictions and says "I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita." (Nabokov, Vladmir Lolita, 7) which meant that he was conscious of the situation he was entering, however he made an excuse for himself to ease his conscious.
In part one, you are taken back in time to Hum's childhood where you are introduced to his Howell 2
childhood sweetheart, Annabelle. It then becomes evident that his obsession with Lolita started with Annabelle. He was haunted by the memories of his lost love, therefore the only way to kill Hum's pain was to incarnate Annabelle with another. Upon meeting Lolita, Humbert immediately recognizes the similarity between the two. "Lolita was a "fatal consequence of that "princedom by the sea" in my tortured past." (Nabokov, Vladmir Lolita, 11)
Humbert becomes obsessed with Lolita, this obsession is displayed through his actions, behavior, dialect and need for total control. Humbert manipulates and controls Lolita, as well as others in the novel and even the reader, exhibited by directly addressing them as his "jury". Humbert rationalizes with the reader about his obsession with Lolita, manipulating them into thinking he is mentally ill and does not know that his actions are wrong. This is precisely what his plan is; to get the readers to sympathize with him.
Humbert starts his manipulation with Lolita's mother, Charlotte, who falls madly in love with him. He recognizes the opportunity to take advantage of Charlotte's endearment for him and decides to trick Charlotte into thinking that he is in love with her and marries her to stay close with Lolita. However he does not succeed in doing this because Charlotte is jealous of the affection Lolita receives from Humbert.
"He successfully ridicules Charlotte for example, as a representative middle class american
buffoon but he fails to see that her very inadequacines expose him as well. In some ways
Charlotte is very much like Humbert. Charlotte's hopeless passion for Humbert for example
parallels Humbert for Lolita. Despite Humbert's ridicule ,Charlottes romantic feelings are
not so different from his, belying his claims that his ecstasies are special." (Wallace,
Charlotte is very selfish, materialistic and easily influenced by media. "Charlotte Haze has her perceptions and her "mode of expression" shaped by "soap operas, psychoanalysis and cheap novelettes." Humbert is familiar with the patterned experiences and cliched phraseology of these forms and is able to use his knowledge to deceive Charlotte." (Winston, 4:2487) As a writer, Humbert is able to use his literary skills to create Charlotte's perfect romantic fantasy, enabling him to be intimate with Lolita without Charlotte noticing. Eventually Charlotte becomes jealous when the majority of Hum's attention is directed to Lolita and sends her to summer camp, with proceeding plans to send...
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