Analysis Of “Lolita” By Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita is a novel written by Vladimir Nabokov in 1955. Nabokov was a Russian American novelist who is still famous for his controversial writings. In this novel, the protagonist is an unreliable narrator who is a middle-aged professor named Humbert. The professor is obsessed with the early age girls between 9 to 14. The story revolves around his sexual bond with his step daughter and implications of this unnatural relationship.
Humbert lost the love of his life in an early age when both were still in teenage. After the death of his beloved, Humbert developed an obsession with the young girls and referred it to be the reason of grief that he went through after the death of his girlfriend. Humbert married a polish woman to overcome these desires, but their marriage dissolved due to the extra marital relations of the lady. Humbert then married his land lady named Charlotte who already had a daughter. He imagined himself having intimate relations with his 12 years step daughter and used to write it in a diary. Charlotte discovered the truth about his desires but before she could do anything, he was already killed in a car accident. Humbert mentioned in his diary that he used to bring his step daughter home whom he used to call Lolita. He would give her sleeping pills to take advantage of her body but was surprised because she herself initiated the act. Humbert kept her under his eyes after that and did not allow any other person to come near her. They both traveled around the states and for some time and had sex with each other throughout this time.
Humbert was very keen to keep her for himself, but she eloped with another middle-aged person named Quilty who happened to be an old friend of her mother. Later, after two years of constant search for Lolita, Humbert received a letter from her asking for help as she was pregnant. Humbert went to meet her and came to know that Quilty who had abducted her earlier wanted her now to work in a pornographic film which she declined. She worked as waitress after she escaped form Quilty for some time and finally married a simple guy. Humbert asked her to come with him, but she declined the offer. Furthermore, Humbert gave her the money and left to find Quilty. Humbert found Quilty under the heavy dosage of drugs and shot him as a revenge for taking away Lolita from him and trying to manipulate her. At the end of the story, he was arrested by police for driving recklessly as he repented to deprive Dolores (Lolita) of a normal and cheerful adulthood. Lolita is a story of uncontrolled sexual emotions of a middle-aged adult. Humbert suffered from Hebephilia which means to have uncontrolled and stressed desires to get involved in the prepubescent girls aging between 11 to 14. The writer has professionally developed the plot and explained the causes of such unnatural human behavior.
The protagonist in the novel developed this psychological condition due to his unfilled desire to love and being loved as his beloved died in a very early age. It has been proven through research as well that sexual aggressors against children showed more psychopathology, emotional disturbances, and lower self-esteem as compared to the adults (Proulx et al 182). Same happened with the Humbert who was shocked by that death of his beloved since it has also been proven that when a person is deprived of the love of his life, he/she becomes mentally unstable. This unstable condition can lead to positive as well negative extremes. Mostly it pushes that person towards negativity about life or surrounding environment or make him/her indulge in unnatural activities. When Humbert lost his beloved in early age, he started to find that love in every young girl whom he called nymphets. He imagined molesting them and even went to brothels to have sex with the young aged prostitutes. This showed his lack of self-esteem and drastic level of emotional instability. The love for younger girls which was initiated by the unfulfilled love made him ruin the life of his step daughter Lolita, which he regretted later. On analyzing the behavior of a person suffering from hebephilia in novel, it is revealed that he becomes so paranoid and obsessed with his sexual desires that societal norms and values become meaningless. According to Francis, such person acts like an animal and always look to fulfill his evil desires without even considering that his acts will adversely affect the victim. Furthermore, his psychopathy led him to disrespect the relation he has with her.
Similarly, young girls who suffer from such assaults and harassment’s in their younger age, become accustomed to it. They suffer psychologically as well as physically throughout their lives as Lolita had to go through very difficult times in her adulthood (Francis). Novel was met with criticism due to erotic content, but it got appraisal for showing the true causes and effects of hebephilia in a detailed manner. In Lolita, Nobokov has explained that death of person one loves can cause major psychological as well physiological changes. Humbert’s fixations rooted from the death of his beloved. Moreover, if one cannot fulfill his desires, mental instability is bound to take place in that person. This unstable condition may be permanent or temporary depending on the emotional involvement with the deceased. Humbert suffered from this condition throughout the novel until the end when he realized that his paranoid behavior had ruined the life of his step daughter. Nobokov enlightens us through this novel about another reason of murder: the man resorts to slaying due to vengeance. Revenge has been one of the root causes of murders and killings throughout the history. Human beings with violent mindset tend to kill that person whom they hate badly or who hurt them in such a way that they do not have any mercy left for him. Overall, it teaches that human beings are the most civilized specie of the universe. Their civility is what makes them different from other living beings. Humans do have needs and instincts like animals, but the ability to think and choose between right and wrong is the real difference.
There have been different studies and researches on the human civilization and almost all have concluded that intelligence and control over instincts and desires are the defining differences between other living organisms and human beings. It relates with the philosophical idea by Aristotle:“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ” (A Quote from Politics). It should be noted here that man is an animal by nature. Therefore, any human who masters the art of controlling the animal instincts in himself becomes controller of his fate while anyone who is driven by the negative desire of any form becomes a beast.
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