Unconventional Love

Topics: Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, Novel Pages: 7 (2448 words) Published: May 10, 2013
As stated in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “the course of love never did run smooth.” The majority have experienced hardships within relationships and are aware that, in many cases, it is these individualistic quirks that form the adhesives to a healthy and strong long-lasting love. The word ‘love’ itself could be seen as merely an umbrella term, which houses much unconventionality on many levels. However, something with such intense depth and hazard has many potential outcomes, and not all can be predicted. Literature provides a creative insight into these whimsicalities, and makes for impelling and educational entertainment for literary enthusiasts. Love, by its very nature, is universal, yet the individual types are largely not, calling upon writers to introduce us to refreshing concepts within the love subdivision by using an array of effective literary techniques to aid our understanding. Dickens, Shakespeare and Nabokov all depict endemic versions of invigorating and taboo subjects by means of imagery, language and characterisation - all displayed in their celebrated texts. Through highly original narratives and creative flare, readers encounter love in its most unconventional of forms, and these shall be examined in this essay. Lolita, written by Vladimir Nabokov was published in the 1950s, and has overriding theme of paradox. Nabokov delves into the concept of unconventional love with a sophisticated and flamboyant prose style as he tells the story of protagonist and middle-aged literature professor, Humbert Humbert, and his pursuit of twelve-year-old Delores Haze. Tackling the unnerving subject matter of hebephila, Lolita attained a classic status after its publication, becoming one of the best-known and most controversial novels of twentieth century literature. Throughout the novel, Nabokov presents unconventional love through chromatic language, rich narratives and a colourful supporting cast, forming a contrast of adoration and immorality which causes even the most orthodox of readers to doubt their ethics. Narrated by the indulgent Humbert, we are given a hedonistic and one-dimensional account of his life on the road with Delores, dotingly nicknamed ‘Lolita’ for the purpose of narcissistic mirage. A coherent technique that Nabokov uses to present unconventional love throughout Lolita is the use of names and personal identity. He places emphasis on the importance of names from the very first paragraph of the novel, where protagonist Humbert Humbert recites each of Delores’ pet names in turn, relating each to a fantasy-like concoction of her: “She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock…” This is the first hint the reader gets towards what is later revealed as a perpetual reverie created by Humbert’s imagination, which strips Lolita of any true sense of self, so that she has no input in her own identity, and instead has her selfdom designed and moulded to his preference. Humbert Humbert contrasts Lolita in that his name is solid. Repetition within a name implies validity and therefore a true sense of identity, in comparison to Lolita with her various petty and ethereal names. In order to transform Delores into Lolita, Humbert must deny her of her humanity; “…but in my arms, she was always Lolita.” This is a significant phrase because ‘in my arms’ indicates the level of control and emphasises Humbert’s mind-set that Lolita is a dream-figment made flesh. ‘Delores’, Lolita’s real name, means ‘delour’ – associated with sorrow and grief, whereas ‘Lolita’ is a light-headed, airy and somewhat seductive name, which later entered pop culture to describe a sexually precocious girl. That Humbert pursues this relationship reveals to the reader his indulgent and addictive personality, and coincides with the fundamental theme of solipsism, which is underlying throughout the novel. Humbert’s repetitive name also confirms his strong characterisation and self-assurance. The protagonist is...
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