Humbert In Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita

1848 Words 8 Pages
Unaware readers become pawns in Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel, and literary game, Lolita. This journal of Humbert Humbert’s life illustrates the crazed pull of artistic perfection through the lense of a pedophile chasing a child. The “artist”, Humbert, narrates his corrupt life from an unfulfilled boyhood until poisoned adulthood in order to justify himself to a moral jury. His muse, Dolores (Lolita) Haze, is a tantalizing nymphet who is both the poison and the antidote for Humbert’s, and his audience’s, private desires. Who and what are real and what is just a manipulative ploy by the perverted narrator is unknown; even trusted professionals fail to see through this psychopath’s scholarly costume. Humbert is a manipulative artist …show more content…
He begins a boyhood romance with Annabel Leigh where he first feels the curious pull of childish lust. As in Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee”, an obsessive Humbert’s Annabel dies a premature death by the sea, but not before his chance at consummation with her is unnaturally interrupted (Ray 1; Nabokov 14). Annabel was a symbol of angelic perfection for Humbert, which he chased the rest of his life. He “broke her spell by incarnating her in [Lolita]” (15). Humbert lives in a realm in which he believes he is meant to be with children as he says that many in history were, but they never push him over the threshold of sexual maturity. Ironically, he detests American teenage love culture, as he tries to convince his readers that his affection is somehow more sophisticated and romantic. Humbert’s delusion demonstrates the tantalizing effects of an idealized masterpiece on its artist (Megerle 345). Humbert believes that once he quenches his craving for what Annabel took from him, he will be cured. Instead, Humbert realizes that his “fantasy of being in paradise is replaced by torment” once he finally consummates his relationship with Lolita (“The …show more content…
Nabokov uses Humbert as a vehicle to criticize Freudian psychology throughout the text. Freudian psychology is a proposed model of development through five psychosexual stages (Walter 18). Lolita is in her phallic stage of development, and according to Freud's model, her unusual parental influences lead her to be sexually anxious and view herself inferior to those around her, which is seen play out in Lolita’s future where she is never free of the presence of men (McLeod 2). Humbert is admitted to an institution upon hearing of Valeria’s unfaithfulness. Amusingly, Humbert meets Lolita almost immediately following his release, showing the ineffectiveness of the professionals trusted to cure him (Nabokov 33-35). Similarly, Humbert openly criticizes psychology for never breaking his sociopathic spell. Humbert travels around the United States, coming into contact with countless law and health professionals, but none of them understand his crimes. Even the foreword of the novel seems to be mocking modern psychology. This medical report, written by Ray, is full of shoddy evidence that is just as clouded as the professional facts presented in the rest of the novel (3-6). The unresolved psychological strain takes a toll on Lo and Humbert alike. Lolita throws tantrums throughout the journey, and she eventually becomes physically sick as a result of the sick behaviors inflicted upon

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