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Analysis Of Lolitas Enslavement To Humbert English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2006 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita depicts the relationship between a young girl and a much older3333 man. Humbert Humbert is in his late thirties and forties throughout the book and he talks the reader through how this relationship with Lolita made him feel and how it progressed as she got older and they moved around becoming closer as the months went on. Humbert Humbert narrates the entire book and he expresses to us how Lolita was in his words, but we never hear how it was for her, her side of the story, and how she felt in reality and not just how Humber Humbert thought she felt and was. It can be seen as how he wanted to ensure the reader believed him, about how he didn’t approve himself of the relationship he had and longed for with Lolita. It also however, makes the reader wonder was Lolita in one sense a slave to Humbert in that she was trapped as his daughter and lover because she had nobody else, the novel only gives Humbert’s point of view so there is nothing saying he isn’t making up Lolita’s personality to make himself look better to the reader.

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Humbert Humbert begins the book with a short chapter one his love for Lolita. He claims that his love for Lolita was only so strong because he had once loved a young girl before her for one summer, Annabel. He initially comes to meet Lolita when in chapter ten he moves to New England, to the house if Mrs Haze, 342 lawn street as she extended an invitation to him when he was stuck unsure of where he’d b going [1] . He sees Lolita for the first time in the garden and he describes her as if she was the young girl from his past, Annabel, and in doing this he seems to of immediately fallen for Lolita. Seeing Lolita was so much like Annabel, Humbert decides to accept Mrs. Haze’s invitation to stay on at the house. As the novel progresses we learn hoe Humbert’s ‘fondness’ for Lolita grew. He describes how he used to look at her and watch her sometimes. The reader quickly learns how fascinated he was becoming with Lolita, he would go into her bedroom from time to time and touch her things to be near her, “My heart seemed everywhere at once. Never in my life – not even when fondling my child – love in France – never” [2] . Lolita it seems had no idea as to what Humbert was doing. It is during this part of the book that Humber first kisses Lolita, it was just on her eyelid but to him this created agony, when describing it in the book Humbert says “never have I experienced such agony” [3] .

Humbert becomes increasingly close to Lolita and her mother, mainly so he can continue being around the “hot little haze”. Even though he continually tries to justify his actions the reader still has no reason to trust him because he clearly tells of his deceit and the feelings he should not be having. After Lolita leaves for camp, Humbert and Charlotte Haze get engaged, this is purely from Humbert’s point of view just another way to stay in the house without question. However while Lolita is still at camp her mother gets run over by a car swerving from a dog and she is killed. Humbert now has to go and get Lolita from camp and tell her about her mother. They go to stay in a hotel and on the way she kisses him and again in the hotel. Humbert realises he still loves her and thought of being a good father figure leaves him. Also in the novel, towards the end or Part One, Humbert and Lolita’s relationship turns clearly sexual and it makes the reader question him, and whether we can trust how he describes the affair and how he says the Lolita seduced him in the hotel and not the other way around. Could Lolita of been too young to understand what was going on, the initial advance she makes on Humbert while she was so young is also questionable, Humbert was the only one she had at this point in her life, Humbert himself says how it was probably nothing huge for her, just exploring and living her adolescent life. And as Simone de Beauvoir says “She is already free of her childish past, and the present seems but a time of transition; it contains no valid aims, only occupations” [4] .He also tells her at the end of Part One the truth about her mother and this upsets Lolita, drawing her closer and closer to Humbert, “in the middle of the night she came sobbing into mine, and we made it up very gently. You see, she had absolutely nowhere else to go” [5] .

In the novel the reader learns slowly realises the level of jealousy and power that Humbert has for Lolita. She becomes exiled from society and hence has this in common with Humbert. They are both exiles, both separate from society, in confusing moral places where it seems the rules of life have changed. The difference between Humbert and Lolita is that he chose to be in exile, he comes of his own accord to America from Europe, whereas Lolita is forced into exile after the death of her mother. She is separated from her hometown and the people she knows, except of course for Humbert as she goes travelling around with him. They never stay in the one place for too long, constantly on the move. As they travel they live by new life rules which they conjure themselves, where their relationship isn’t twisted or strange as it would be seen in other places. They become so separate from society that they don’t seem to realise what consequences their actions should have or how bad the relationship between them is on moral ground. Humbert constantly tries to reassure the reader that he is not a monster and it questions whether he believes this or is just trying to make the reader believe it. Lolita on the other hand doesn’t show too much awareness that she is a victim of Humbert, but again this is all through the words of Humbert and the reader need to decide whether to believe Humbert’s word or not. Lolita doesn’t ever speak throughout the book to the reader and this lack of self-representation in the book can be seen as her enslavement to Humbert. Lolita is trapped with Humbert when he takes her from camp because she has nowhere else that she can go. They accept this and live in exile. Lolita was stuck with Humbert and he wanted to believe that she wanted to be there and blinded himself of her unhappiness, he believed she was in love or falling for him as more than a father figure but it can be said that “The adolescent girl wishes at first to identify herself with males; when she gives that up, she then seeks to share in their masculinity by having one of them in love with her; it is not the individuality of this one or that on which attracts her; she is in love with man in general” [6] .

As Lolita was growing and they stopped in places Humbert’s control over her life never lessened. She was not allowed to go out and do things with other kids her age because Humbert was jealous and kept Lolita away from society; she was his slave in one way. He wanted Lolita to himself and her desire to mingle with boys her own age puts a strain on her relationship with Humbert, he can’t bear this. Each of them by the end of the book undergoes more exile, from themselves. Humbert ends up in prison and Lolita with Dick Schiller, her new life without Humbert where the past was to be left in the past and he was just her father, and she was a new person, one he didn’t completely recognise, because she was happy and free of his control. Her new life away from him hurt Humbert and he had to accept that she was lost; driving away from her he says “I was driving through the drizzle of the dying day, with the windshield wipers in full action but unable to cope with my tears” [7] .

Nabokov writes Lolita in a first person narrative, Humbert Humbert’s narrative. Nabokov writes it in such a way that the reader is almost compelled to question the words of Humbert throughout the entirety of the book through puns and word games. He also urges the reader to do this when he, on numerous occasions Humbert admits that he fakes parts of his history and his identity to ensure he gets what he wants. It makes the reader also question his trustworthiness; it makes the reader overlook part of his lies and his true character. Humbert’s lies make the reader wonder whether everything he says about Lolita and how she acted was true or not. By reading it and not taking it account Humbert’s lies, the reader could easily forget that Humbert is actually talking about rape, murder and paedophilia.

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Humbert’s understanding of Lolita even though we only hear his side of it, can be examined and deemed wrong. He doesn’t seem to be able to see Lolita’s unhappiness even though he says enough to make the reader be able to see it. He seems to ignore anything that might injure his plans to stay with Lolita; it leads the reader again to question Humbert telling of the story and his portrayal of Lolita. However Nabokov never fully reveals whether Humbert’s idea of Lolita is true, her mental and physical slavery to Humbert is evident throughout the entirety of the novel.

In the story of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Humbert Humbert is uncontrollably in love with Lolita Haze, and the novel expresses all of his feelings and actions, thoughts and wants throughout his life centred on Lolita. However the question of whether she was in love with him or not is not answered. The reader hears only of Lolita and how she felt through the eyes of Humbert and the words of Nabokov, Lolita did act towards him as though she loved him but she was alone in the world other than Humbert, it’s easily confused to being a woman in love or a woman stuck. Lolita’s lack of self representation in the novel is evidence of her enslavement to Humbert, he lets slip how Lolita wanted a life outside the life that they had together, when she wanted to be in the play and hang out with people her own age, the jealousy and control Humbert Humbert had at this stage of her life meant she couldn’t leave and she was his enslaved to him. The reader of this novel is given the task of interpreting the words of Humbert Humbert and deciding if they are true or not, they must decide whether to believe his words and whether how he depicts Lolita is right. Lolita was a very young girl for the most part of the book and cannot be held accountable for a lot of what happened, she was growing up and exploring, whereas Humbert was a much older man and knew what was going on wasn’t right. Humbert was Lolita’s only family so to speak, and he clearly took complete advantage of this in their relationship. His enslavement of Lolita and the way some critics feel he misrepresented her can be seen as many things, such as paedophilia, child-manipulation and abuse. Lolita, it can be said, was very much made out to be different than what a lot of readers come to the conclusion of and this is because Lolita doesn’t get to put across her own view of the years with Humbert, the years she was lumbered with him as her only companion.


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