Lolita Essay, Research Paper
My analysis of LolitaIn 1958, Vladimir Nabokov created two of the unrelenting characters in the history of literature: Humbert Humbert and Lolita Haze. His narrator’s voice and main character, Humbert Humbert, explains the complex story of a man and his obsession. To set this book off from other books about obsession, Nabokov gives Humbert possibly the most socially unacceptable obsession of all: pedophilia. This Lolita causes much of the controversy in the book. Is she an innocent child who is caught up by a wave of “Humbert” that seems to control her life? The answer is one that involves not only an analysis of the text, but also an analysis of the context in which the text is read. It is this analysis of context that will supply a new appreciation for not only the basic plot of Lolita, but also the underlying mockery that riddles the book. As with all literature, many of the ideas and plot twists that supply the excitement to this particular book are seen under a guise of the particular generation that reads it. Many times the way in which a book is written can affect the reader. The ideas and plots presented in his book can be lost in our contemporary society. From decade to decade and generation to generation, it allows each generation to interpret the meaning of the book in a new and fresh way. As much of the book revolves around a middle class household, Nabokov’s book is a direct reflection of the pop culture of the 1950’s. Reactions from audience to audience will forever change as the middle class of not only America, but also the world, change faces and morality in all areas of life. Nabokov aims directly to defy those who read his book. Unlike aims to ridicule an institution that is disliked by the majority of viewers. From conservative 1950’s to the more postmodern 1990’s, Lolita has created a new feeling of disgust toward Humbert’s actions. It thus becomes necessary to study the way that Nabokov’s novel has been received by each generation to realize the inherent prejudices that are present in our contemporary society. Pedophilia in any day and age is looked upon with disgust. The relationship between Humbert Humbert and Lolita is no doubt a unique one. However, there is some astounding evidence that Humbert has an obsessional-compulsive disorder with Lolita. The obsession is clearly illustrated with Humbert’s actions and behavior. Humbert displays obsessional tendencies through his descriptive word choice and his controlling personality. Obsession is a tricky topic because it is hard to come up with a concrete definition. It is the need for total control, which more accurately describes the entire range of his obsessive activity. Humbert is extremely controlling. Throughout the novel, Humbert tries to control the reader’s thoughts about his story. For instance, he constantly talks directly to the reader and tries to get them on his side. In addition, Humbert controls the therapists: “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,…teasing them with fake “primal scenes”…” (34). He uses emotive words and images when he describes people in the novel. His language conveys his obsession for nymphets. This is shown in the way he always talks about the body parts and clothing of nymphets.
It seems as if Humbert does not see Lolita as a human at all. Rather, by his descriptions of her body parts and clothing, he seems to think of her as merely an object. Throughout Lolita, Humbert rationalizes his obsession to the reader. Therefore, 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 sympathizing with him. Lolita is a very difficult novel to analyze. This sounds like an obsessive idea trying to claw its way out of Nabokov’s mind. However, it is evident that Humbert was suffering from an obsessive disorder. It is obvious 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 fantasizing about having complete control over nymphets. Humbert is obviously quite an unsound character.Nabokov’s book, however, is much more than simply a story of a pedophile and his obsession. It is also a commentary of American life. One of my most often asked questions, is, of course, Nabokov’s personal sexual preference: was he a pedophile? It seems unimaginable that a person could write the tale of such an incredible obsession and that, the obsession could be pure fiction. Humbert’s language is more than an expert display of effects. One example of Humbert’s obsession with Lolita can be found on page 65 in The Annotated Lolita: I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita. She would be thirteen on January 1. In two years or so she would cease being a nymphet and would turn into a “young girl,” and then into a “college girl”–that horror of horrors. The word “forever” referred only to my own passion, to the eternal Lolita as reflected in my blood. The Lolita whose iliac crests had not yet flared, the Lolita that today I could touch and smell and hear and see, the Lolita of strident voice and the rich brown hair–of the bangs and the swirls at the sides and the curls at the back, and the sticky hot neck, and the vulgar vocabulary–”revolting,” “super,” “luscious,” “goon,” “drip”–that Lolita, my Lolita, poor Catullus would lose forever. So how could I afford not to see her for two months of summer insomnias? Two whole months out of the two years of her remaining nymphage.” The book has so many meanings. Is it a joke on the Middle Class in America? Is it about Obsession? Is it about Love, or Lust? There is no single definition of art. When two people look at the same sculpture, painting or even book they will each get something different out of it. No two people ever see the same things in art. Nabokov s is tricky and rather confusing, and typical of art; everyone can reach their own conclusion. One is left on her own to conclude Nabokov’s purpose. My personal feelings are that Nabokov himself was a victim of abuse. In his writing, he is so descriptive and so emotional about Humberts passion for Lolita that it is hard to believe that Humbert is not Nabokov. It is up to the reader to decide if Humbert is Nabokov and if Nabokov is truly a pedophile. The themes of the novel: obsession, incest, and pedophilia were important problems in society then, and still today. Therefore, it is up to us, the readers, to interpret the book, simply as an elaborate and obsessive work of art.