Vladimir Nabokov Lolita Confession

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Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is the testimony and confession of Humbert Humbert. Throughout the novel, Humbert confesses both his inappropriate, pedophiliac relationship with twelve-year-old Dolores Haze (Lolita) and his murder of Clare Quilty. However, his confession is not simply a confession; it is also a defense of his many wrongdoings. Ultimately, Humbert wants to convince the reader or “jury” that he does not deserve the punishment of death, despite being guilty of murder.

Lolita is Humbert’s confession of his heinous crimes, mental wellbeing, and regret. He details his inappropriate relationship with Lolita, describing his obsession with her and other “nymphets.” He also admits to raping Lolita and drugging her in order to take
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He cleverly frames the situation as revenge for Quilty’s kidnapping and corrupting Lolita. Thus, the murder becomes understandable — it was an act of a father protecting and revenging his beloved stepdaughter. He confesses to his gross, pedophiliac relationship with Lolita for multiple reasons. It is wise for him to include his monstrous actions. If he claims otherwise — perhaps that his relationship with Lolita was blissful and completely consensual— Lolita would testify against him. But more important, Humbert and Lolita’s relationship serves to distract the reader and “jury” from the only true charge Humbert faces — murder. Despite Humbert’s claim that recounting his story is “to save not [his] head, of course, but [his] soul,” his ultimate goal is to avoid a death sentence (308). By spending a substantial part of the novel describing his relationship with Lolita, he hopes to convince the jury and reader that his most perverse crime was pedophilia rather than murder. Humbert even voices this opinion at the end of the novel: “Had I come before myself, I would have given Humbert at least thirty-five years for rape, and dismissed the rest of the charges” (308). Murder could mean a death sentence for Humbert, which is why he focuses on his relationship with Lolita - pedophilia entails a lesser

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