The Similarities Between Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita And John’s Ford Tis Pity She’s A Whore

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

Both Ford and Nabokov’s main interests were in abnormal psychology and this is evident in their major themes of forbidden love through incest and paedophilia. However, both deal with these themes in a disturbing manner as Ford does not come out against incest but instead seems to present it as an unstoppable force of nature when in reality it is something that goes completely against human nature. The way in which incest is portrayed in the play is controversial because it is in some ways seen as something less than horrific, because when Giovanni confesses his feelings to Annabella she is not repelled at all but quickly admits that she feels the same way. This would have come has a shock for the Caroline audience as, incestuous relationships were forbidden by the religious hierarchy. Likewise, Nabokov makes Humbert describe his idea of love to entice to the romantic interests of his reader, thinking that it will make his deeds seem less revolting. He manipulates his language in such a way that it confuses the reader’s feelings. Humbert’s changing voice is used to highlight his appreciation for young “nymphets” rather than expose him for a corrupted paedophile, implying that even the most distressing things can be temporarily be concealed by the beauty of art. This came as a disturbing surprise to the audience (forgot the era). However, it was labelled revolutionary for its time.

The first and most obvious reason for Giovanni’s pursuit was due to his temptation for Annabella a he describes her lips by saying, “such lips would tempt a saint” this is a metaphor showing how Giovanni is inflamed with desire and will do anything to try to woo Annabella. This relationship is already a source of distress for the 17th-century audience but his way of describing his insatiable desire makes it even more revolting for the audience to witness. Likewise, Humbert describes his lust towards Lolita as all-consuming, “I shall probably have another breakdown if I stay any longer in this house, under the strain of this intolerable temptation” through his flashbacks of Anabel as he references Poe’s poem several times throughout the novel. Poe’s succession from “impulse” to “indulgence” outlines Humbert’s involvement with Lolita; it starts off as a harmless crush and slowly grows into a very unsettling liaison, resulting in a revoltingly complicated set of affairs that cause Humbert “deep regret and mortification”. Many would argue that the relationships in both texts will lead to disastrous consequences due to them being unacceptable within the society and the characters lack of conformity to the rules. Since forbidden love is a sin it makes it even more appealing to be pursued. Annabella’s tutor does not criticise her for loving Giovanni, as she depicts the war destructive influence of the church versus education. When Putana mentions “If a young wench feels the fit upon her, let her take anybody, father or brother, all is one”, although some might think that she was being satirical towards Annabella since she is unable to tell the difference between her kinship and romance. Yet, this is not the case as Putana is portrayed as vulgar and morally dubious tutoress. She believes in the philosophy of heart-wanting and following natures lead rather than the path of religious control of sin. Annabella’s selfless fidelity to love may come across as heroic to the spectator; nonetheless, it is neutralised by the fact that hers is a forbidden love, corrupted by incest and exasperated by adultery, the result of which not only affects the sinners, but also the tradition and values of a patriarchal family. Similarly, Humbert’s modifying voice is supposed to highlight the artistic nature of his admiration for “young nymphets” instead of exposing him for an immoral paedophile, conveying that even the most disgusting things can be temporarily concealed by the beauty of art. Condensing Lolita’s name to a set of rhythmic of syllables; and referring to her as “the light of my life” a metaphor that makes the reader feel this intense passion that Humbert has for Lolita. This artistic introduction shows the reader how intensely captivated he is by her beauty, regardless of the age difference. He also calls her “my sin” conveying to us that he is well aware of his action on a social as well as religious level and is not worried about the consequences due to his ability to manipulate and brainwash others.

Another similarity arises in the two texts when comparisons between Humbert and Giovanni are made and their ways of rationalising their actions by victimising themselves. Humbert spends majority of the novel disregarding his accountability for the relationship between him and his stepdaughter. Ekberg recounts Humbert as caught up in an “obsession” that he is unable to forget. This pushes Humbert to come to terms with his culpability and resorts to psychological games with himself to relieve some of that guilt. He functions in a similar way to Giovanni’s character, but Giovanni seems to accept his grotesque relationship; to make matters worse he never indicates any sense of ownership for his sins. During the play, there were many points when Giovanni tries to escape elude the moral responsibility for his disgraceful deeds by representing himself as an “Emotional pioneer”. He tells Annabella, “Tis my destiny that you must either love or I must die”, just like Humbert, Giovanni switches the blame for his incestuous love that he has for Annabella to the fates or to unstoppable craving so that he could be presented as a victim within this situation. The readers from either era (Jacobean era and Georgian era) would be disgusted by the lack of ownership these characters have taken for their impermissible deeds and are still able to find ways to justify them. Their mentality to rationalise their wrongdoings and blaming it on others will result in tragic consequences.

Furthermore, jealousy has also intensified their desire for forbidden love regardless of the outcome. As Humbert’s jealousy has paranoid him to the point where when he sees a man glancing at Lolita, he appears as lustful “satyr” to him. These fictional beings from mythology are known for their prodigious sexual desire and are mostly coupled with nymphs. Yet again Humbert is unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality. Absurdly, the man he sees is most likely an actual nemesis, Clare Quilty. This is One of the main “jokes, ” of the novel that Humbert’s psychotic, nonsensical suspicions happens to be true. The reader is to think that Lolita and Clare might be poisoning him, another ironic twist of the situation in Part One, where Humbert tried to sedate Lolita and Charlotte. This has resulted in Lolita’s lost innocence as she has become a schemer and poisoner, just like Humbert himself; and she will be the cause of his downfall. Comparably, Giovanni peaked jealousy has angered him as he mentions “O torture. . . to see my love clipped by another. ” the abstract noun “torture” represents his mental instability when he sees Annabella with someone else. Some feminists might argue that this is not only jealousy but possessiveness of both the characters as they believe that these women are their properties. The mental build-up of both characters (Humbert and Giovanni) will result in physical trauma that the other characters, as well as themselves, will suffer from at the end.

At the end, most central characters were unable to keep their façade. Humbert is not able to keep up with his fake persona as an educated and mannerly stepfather. Ekberg finally exposes him to be a sly paedophile and later a monstrous alcoholic “bristly chin, my bum’s blood-shot eyes”. Lolita’s character resembles is Russian doll; when opened there’s many more different ones inside; all continuingly decreasing in size until you are only left with an empty wooden chamber. At the start she appears to be innocent and preadolescent but after her mother her mother’s death, Humbert later learned that this was one of many of her only intimate relationships, and was excited when she encourages his advances.

Overall, she was denied a normal upbringing and has to cling to life by has to survive by undertaking different roles; her failure to sustain the only role of happy-go-lucky young girl has led to her defeat. Giovanni is portrayed as a very well educated and a polite character; although the audience are aware of his incestuous lust but towards the end his real personality comes to light which reveals that he is a heartless murderer, as he kills his sister and “love”, due to his inability to marry her. This did not only shock the modern day but the Jacobean viewers as well. Ultimately, forbidden pleasures are not the best since they lead to several immoral deeds and disastrous consequences. As most of these characters were either poisoned, were murdered by the other “lover” or have committed suicide.

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