– Vladimir Nabokov. A Study Of The Main Character, Humbert Humbert, And How The Author Presen Essay, Research Paper
?Lolita? is an impressive and complex novel that allows its author, Vladimir Nabokov, to create a believable and realistic central character in the shape of Humbert Humbert. He appears to introduce Humbert as cruel and evil man, yet, almost touching. An enchanting figure that begs for the reader?s sympathy. Nabokov skilfully manipulates the reader into feeling sympathy for both Humbert and the object of his affections ? Lolita. This is indeed an incredible task for the author to achieve in such an intense and controversial situation, yet he succeeds with his gorgeously written prose, featuring stylish, intricate literary effects displayed throughout the novel, giving an excellent insight into a man?s life and his obsessions.
?Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of forms.? ?Lolita? is an account, narrated by Humbert Humbert, of his ?tangle of thorns?. His relationship with Dolores Haze ? Lolita ? and his loneliness and conflicting emotions. It is written in prison by Humbert, a middle-aged European intellect and pervert. He had spent many years in various sanatoriums and suffers from an obsession for young girls. Young girls on the edge of puberty, nine to fourteen-year-old ?nymphets?. Unfortunately for him, paedophilia is possibly the most socially unacceptable obsession of all, and unlike with Dante?s Beatrice and Petrarch?s Laureen, who Humbert mentions, the twentieth century denies him the only female thing he really desires. He discovers a fulfilment to his desires in the shape of twelve-year-old Lolita, the essence of a nymphet, in a small New England town. She is the daughter of his landlady, and he becomes totally fixated. The obsession grows to an extent that he marries Lolita?s widowed mother Charlotte in a bid to remain close to the object of his passion. He has no feelings for Charlotte at all, and when she promptly suggests that the child be sent away so the two ?lovers? can be alone, Humbert immediately begins to consider the possibility of murder. Fate, however, intervenes, and she is killed in a freak accident after discovering his obsession with her daughter and running out into the middle of a road. With his little stepdaughter he spends two years roaming the United States by car. This two-year love affair inevitably ends in suffering, as Lolita elopes with another middle-aged man, Clare Quilty, leaving Humbert to descend into insanity. Despite his attempts to track them he never succeeds and bounces in and out of more sanatoriums until Lolita, now Dolly, contacts him for money, married, pregnant and no longer a nymphet. This triggers him to successfully carry out the murder of his nemesis, Quilty, and the novel ends almost tragically with both Lolita and Humbert?s untimely demises. She in childbirth and he of a heart attack while awaiting trial in prison.
The novel is written in the first person narrative, which creates a realistic impression of him. You are introduced to him and his childhood at the beginning, and it is clear that his obsession with Lolita started with his childhood sweetheart. Her name was Annabel, and she died of typhus aged thirteen. ?Lolita began with Annabel?. He ?broke her spell by incarnating her in another?. Nabokov had to include this explanation; otherwise the reader would be left with the suspicion whether something had happened in early age to make Humbert so troubled. This raises question such as had Annabel not existed, would Humbert still have the attraction for little girls? He is haunted by memories of his lost adolescent love. Lolita was a ?fatal consequence of that ?princedom by the sea? in my tortured past?. When he firsts lays eyes on Lolita, he compares her to Annabel ? ?..and she smelt almost exactly like the other one, the Riviera one..? As the novel progresses though, these comparisons are swiftly dropped, as he becomes totally immersed in the one and only idea of Lolita.
Humbert is obsessed with Lolita. There is no other explanation. There is astounding evidence that he is truly obsessed and clearly illustrated with his actions and behaviour. He displays obsessive tendencies through is descriptive word choice and his controlling personality. Obsession is the need for total control, and Humbert is extremely controlling. He even controls the reader. He tries to control the reader?s thoughts about his story and fashion their opinions by talking directly to the reader and attempting to get them on his side ? ?Humbert Humbert tried hard to be good. Really and truly, he did.? He controls his therapists as well ? ?I discovered there was an endless source of robust enjoyment in trifling with psychiatrists: cunningly leading them on; never letting them see that you know all the tricks of the trade; inventing for them elaborate dreams..? He uses emotive words and images when he describes people in the novel and his language conveys his obsession for nymphets. This is shown in the way he always talks about the body parts and clothing of nymphets, seemingly he does not think of Lolita as a human at all, but rather as merely an object. ?My knuckles lay against the child?s blue jeans. She was bare-footed; her toenails showed remnants of cherry-red polish and there was a bit of adhesive tape across her big toe.?
Throughout ?Lolita?, Humbert rationalizes his obsession to the reader. The reader might make the mistake of thinking that Humbert is sick, that he does not know that his actions are wrong. This is exactly Humbert?s plan. He wants to control the reader into sympathising with him. However, his attempts to succeed fail because it is obvious that he is suffering from obsession ? merely in what he talks about and how he says it. There are extremely few instances in the novel where Humbert is not talking about Lolita or fantasising about having complete control over nymphets.
Evidence of the obsession comes to an extreme when he seriously considers killing Lolita?s ?phocine? mother for the sole purpose of being next to her. To seriously think of killing someone really shows his determination. While considering him crime he said that people were ?..just near enough to witness an accident and just far enough not to observe a crime..? Nabokov uses direct informal language to create a realistic character with Humbert when he says ?But what d?ye know, folks ? I just could not make myself do it!?
Aspects of Humbert?s personality and evidence of the Nabokov?s unique craft at creating a believable character is the clever language used in describing certain simple scenes. ?The stars that sparkled, and the cars that parkled?? and when describing Lolita herself ? ?..my dolorous and hazy darling..? This playing with words emphasises Humbert?s wistful personality. The text contains contradictions as well. He wants to ?madly possess? Lolita and yet he says that ?with the most fervent force and foresight? he intended to ?protect the purity of that twelve year old girl.?. People had ?undermined the gentleness of his nature.? By possessing her all his troubles would be expelled ?..and I would be a healthy man.?
Nabokov has also made use of humour to emphasise Humbert?s delusions and obsession. Again, this also presents his main character as believable. ?Lolita? is an extremely witty book. By liking young girls, ?You have to be an artist and a madman.? Statements such as ?Sundaes cause acne.? ?Nymphets do not have acne although they gorge themselves on rich food,? and, ?..nymphets do not occur in polar regions.? This effective use of humour shows how deluded and blatantly insane Humbert is, for his claims are often ridiculous. It shows that he is lying to himself to make his conscience feel better for who and what he is; a pervert.
Humbert Humbert is an obsessive, disillusioned, striking and mysterious main character to Vladmir Nabokov?s ?Lolita?. One main point must not be forgotten when he says ?I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita.? He was fully aware of the situation he was getting into, yet made up excuses for himself. He is full of contradictions, a nasty, evil wretch of a man who somehow manages to gain the reader?s sympathy. This is due to Nabokov?s marvellous skilled writing and his talent at creating a supremely realistic central character. His clever mix of humour and drama, and beautiful descriptions give a very detailed insight into the psychological workings of a man who is slowly but clearly going insane. The contemporary theme ensures that the reader?s full attention is always present. ?Lolita? manages to be both blisteringly funny and painful, dark, twisted and corrupt, yet a beautiful love story with two tragically alike souls. It is an elaborate and obsessive work of art.