OTHER THEMES IN LOLITA

Introduction

Humbert0Humbert, an European intellectual is the narrator and the protagonist of the novel Lolita. Humbert had an agonizing past of mental illness. He was attracted to young girls. He accomplished in charming the readers with his inheritance of language. Also, he had no ability to carry out rape and murder. In spite of being an intellectual, Humbert realizes too late, that is at the end of the novel that he has destructed Lolita’s childhood. He pens down the following story about Lolita from his prison cell, where he awaits for his trial for the crime he gave effect to. Though, he dies of thrombosis soon after the death of Lolita. Humbert  has been one of the most horrifying legal guardian who was attracted to her twelve years old step daughter Dolores (also know as Lolita Haze). He was so much into her step daughter that he married Charlotte, his landlady in order to be near his beloved Lolita. Humbert describes his childhood as peaceful and perfect. His description about his childhood reveals different personality characteristics making his stand out from the rest of the characters in the novel.

Charlotte Haze is Humbert’s landlady, Lolita’s mother and she was later married to Humbert. Belonging to a middle class she always desired to be civilized and sophisticated as well. She aimed of becoming much more than a typical homemaker but ended up becoming  a middle class homemaker. Charlotte’s relationship with her daughter has been shown to be strained or tense all throughout the novel. In the novel, Charlotte has been shown as a devotee to her love, Humbert or in other words we can say that she worships him and is cheated by him. She stays blind about the fact that he was attracted to her daughter Dolores. He wrote about his child love Lolita in his diary. Charlotte couldn’t have known about his lust for her daughter and his motive behind marrying her if he wouldn’t have penned it down in his diary. His diary revealed all his desires to be near to Lolita. Charlotte dies soon after confronting him about the truth. She died due to a car accident.

It all began after  the fictional John Ray, Jr., Ph.D., receives the memoir entitled ‘Lolita, or the Confession of the White Widowed Male’ from author’s lawyer. Humbert Humbert, the author of the memoir died due to coronary thrombosis a few days before his trial was scheduled to be start. Ray stresses upon the fact that author’s writing remains persuasive and extraordinary throughout the novel inspite his despicable actions. The author tells that the novel can easily become one of favourites in psychiatrical circles and in some terms the novel gives parents a lesson about how a better child must be raised by giving them a better world.

In the following manuscript, Humbert describes his childhood to be peaceful and pleasant. He talks about his peaceful upbringing on the Riviera. Being the only son to a well-to-do father he was educated with high standards and was cultured as well. His pleasant childhood interrupted after his encounter with Annabel Leigh. The two were not able to consummate their love due to various incidents that took place while they tried their best. Annabel died an early death due to rickettsial disease. Her death haunted the author even after four months.

After all the ups and downs he faced with his ex, he decided to pursue English Literature, for that he spends time in a mental institution and carried all the odd jobs there. He married an old lady but unfortunately their marriage didn’t work out to be a fortunate for Humbert and he remained sexually addicted to fascinating and young women. These nymphets, as he describes them, made him remember his ex though he failed to find another like her. To get over her, he eventually moved to United States and there, he rented a room at the house of a widow lady, namely, Charlotte Haze. Her house was situated in the suburban New England town. He was attracted to her twelve year old daughter Dolores ‘Lo’ Haze to whom he privately nicknamed Lolita. Humbert used to follow her moves and often flirted with her. Humbert used to pen his erotic desires to a journal. As the time passed, Humbert’s landlady Charlotte Haze, whom he hated had fallen in love with him. Soon after this Charlotte sent Lolita to a0summer0camp. In her absence, Humbert0married0Charlotte to be near his beloved child love. Humbert wanted to spend some time alone in the company of  Lolita which was next to impossible for him because of Charlotte. He even tries to kill her but even after several attempts he couldn’t succeed in doing the same. He penned down all the events and his attempts of killing his wife Charlotte in his journal. However, somehow Charlotte finds his journal and gets to know about his motives behind marrying her and all the desires he had for Lolita. On knowing the truth, Charlotte confronted but he simply denied everything. But this time, Charlotte doesn’t believe him and leaves everything behind and without even thinking about her own little child she left the house. In this hustle bustle, she is hit by a car and she dies there and then.

Humbert got Lolita from the summer camp so that he could tell her the truth. Only when they reached the motel he could tell her the truth about his mother’s tragic death. To this, Humbert claims of some incidents that took place which clearly showed that Lolita seduces him but the truth was known and it was the other way round. The two now, drives across the country for about an year and it led to Humbert became increasingly attracted towards Lolita and she learnt how to manipulate him. Whenever she used to engage herself in tantrums he used to threat her of putting in an orphanage. Meanwhile, a strange man appeared to follow them during their travel.

Humbert gets employed as a professor at a college namely, Beardsley College situated somewhere in the Northeast and Lolita get enrolls in a school. Her desires and wishes to socialize with boys of her own age causes a strain in the relationship of Humbert and Lolita. Humbert laid restrictions on her creating more problems between them. Even after all the restrictions he allowed her to take active part in the school play. Also, she behaved secretively around. Humbert due to his restrictions he laid on her. He accuses her of being unfaithful to him and behaving this way so he decides to take her on another road trip. Again on the road trip, Humbert has a suspicion of being followed by some stranger. Lolita didn’t notice and thus, Humbert accuses her of being mingled with the one who was stalking them.

Lolita becomes unwell, to which, Humbert takes her to the hospital but when he returns to take her back with him he finds out from the nurse that her uncle has already came to pick her up. Humbert, all tensed and pissed off returns home all broken and disheartened. For the next two years, he searched for Lolita in order to take revenge to her kidnapper. He half heartedly took shelter with a lady named Rita, it was then a turning point came in his life and he received a note from Lolita who was then married and pregnant and wanted some money. Further the letter stated that Lolita has married the person who tend to follow them on their travels. This made Humbert determined to take revenge from him by killing him. He found Lolita in a terrific way. She was pregnant and poor both at seventeen. Enquiring about how she was left in this stage, Humbert found that Lolita’s husband was not the one who kidnapped her from the hospital. Once forced to extreme she admitted that Clare Quilty, a dramatist whose presence has been felt from the very start of the novel had taken her from the hospital. Lolita loved Quilty but unfortunately he dumped her out of his life after her denial on being  a part of the child pornography. Still dedicated to her, Humbert begs her to come to him. Being all helpless, Lolita gently denies. Helping her with the financial needs, Humbert departs. Deep inside still burning with the rage to take revenge from Quilty, Humbert tracked him down at his own house and shooted him multiple times, leading to his death. Humbert is restricted from all the activities and placed in jail for the crime he committed. There he jot down his memoir and also mentioned that the following can only be disclosed after Lolita’s death. Soon after her death which was due to her giving birth to her child, the manuscript is then sent to John Ray, Jr., Ph.D.

The Dispiriting Incompatibility Of European and American Cultures

Throughout the novel, the relationship amongst European and American societies consequences in endless false impressions and conflicts. Charlotte Haze, an American lady gets attracted to the complexity and the cultural background of Humbert, an European man. She is not charmed by Humbert’s looks but by his intellect and his glamorous background  whereas Humbert has no such feelings for Charlotte, infact, he loathes her.  Humbert ridicules  the triviliality and short life of the American culture and he sees her as a middle class homemaker. Be that as it may, he loves each one of Lolita’s vulgarities and annals, everything that took place during their voyage all through America. He, in the end, concedes that he has polluted the nation as opposed to a different way.

In spite of the fact that Humbert and his beloved constructed their own variance of peace as they travelled together all through America, importantly their union is plainly not in view of acceptance. Lolita can’t appreciate Humbert’s intelligence and commitment and also, his great passion or love towards history and art whereas Humbert will never really perceive the fact that Lolita didn’t even give him a chance to sophisticate her. But in the end Lolita leaves him for another man, that is, American Quilty who never bored her of his grand passions, his cultures and various interests.

From the very beginning to the very end, Humbert Humbert gives a magnificient essence to the memoir. He succeeds in bringing himself as a pitying pervert or the one who is sexually attracted to children. All throughout, he uses seductive language giving brief description about the incidents that took place. Being an European, he always found fault with the flamboyancy of the American culture and on the other hand he entrenched himself as an intellectual. His writing style is a bit diverting as he writes so perfectly that the readers get diverted so easily through all the tricks and games he play using his ironic and self mocking tone with the tinch of word games that he played in the manuscript diverts the mind of the readers from the horrified events he described. Humbert, as an authore persuades the readers with the power of language he uses in the memoir. Also, his power of language converts the readers to envision his perspective. His linguistic skills because of his inbuilt European roots created a magic on the readers. He never wished for love. Infact from the very beginning since when he was a young boy, despite so many efforts Annabel and Humbert couldn’t consummate their love. She dies an early death. Since then, her death haunted him. He has been dependent on the actual style of lady Annabel represents. He engages to an old lady in order to get rid of the nymphets but unfortunately, that marriage dissolved and also the longings stay.

Adding more to this paper, the novel clearly shows Humbert’s obsession for America from the very early age. As clearly depicted by his frequent visits to America all throughout Lolita. The documentary depicts his repulsion as well as his fascination to the country. He inspects each and every absurd tourist trap, crappy motel, consumer habit, national compulsion, and stereotype of American culture. According to him, Charlotte represented the worst of American culture.

Humbert Humbert draws various comparisons between Europe and America. Also he exclaims the same in this quotation, “America, the country of rosy children and great trees, where life would be such an improvement on dull dingy Paris. (1.8.4)”

Humbert, in the novel, is totally aroused and shocked watching the American children. Their freshness and friskiness attracted Humbert and also became a medium to their endless fascination. Humbert Humbert exclaims the following in the following quote, “[Lolita] grasped [the apple] and bit into it, and my heart was like snow under thin crimson skin, and with the monkeyish nimbleness that was so typical of that American nymphet, she snatched out of my abstract grip the magazine. (1.13.6)”

In the novel, Lolita there comes a scene where Charlotte totally misread or misunderstands Humbert Humbert and she thinks of herself as the most inappropriate and the brazen one. The following quote defines the above situation, “ I know how reserved you are, how “British.” Your old-world reticence, your sense of decorum may be shocked by the boldness of an American girl! (1.16.5).”

The following quote describes Lolita being an American girl and her importance in Humbert’s life, ““Good by-aye!” she chanted, my American sweet immortal dead love. (2.29.92).”

Humbert Humbert brings out the contrast between Europe and America, “We inspected the world’s largest stalagmite in a cave where three southeastern states have a family reunion […] A granite obelisk commemorating the Battle of the Blue Licks, with old bones and Indian pottery in a museum nearby […] The present log cabin boldly simulating the past log cabin where Lincoln was born. (2.2.4).”

With the increasing time period, changes that took place in American have been highlighted in the novel. It is also mentioned that inspite of the change in time Europe has been the same as before. I also noticed that commercial fashion was changing. There was a tendency for cabins to fuse and gradually form a caravansary, and, lo […], a second story was added, and a lobby grew in, and cars were removed to a communal garage, and the motel reverted to the good old hotel. (2.16.4).”

“By a paradox of pictorial thought, the average low-land North-American countryside had at first seemed to me something I accepted with a shock of amused recognition because of those painted oilcloths which were imported from America in the old days to be hung above washstands in Central-European nurseries, and which fascinated a drowsy child at bed time with the rustic green views they depicted—opaque curly trees, a barn, cattle, a brook, the dull white of vague orchards in bloom, and perhaps a stone fence or hills of greenish gouache. (2.1.14)”

 In spite of his disturbed employment, intellectual issues as well as shortcoming marriages he still attracted attention from the contrary sex, although he sometimes disrespected this attention. His obsession for his beloved consumed him completely.

Humbert witnessed all of Lolita’s bad mannered and outspoken brash American-ness. America is the land of mass culture, a modern society of consumer goods, a nation of tourist sights and souvenirs, where everything is commodified and collectable.

A typical bourgeois, riped year American lady, Charlotte Haze aspired to sophistication and European class. Charlotte is attracted to Humbert for his worldliness, charm and his intellect. In the novel, Charlotte’s curiosity has been represented by Humbert to become the lady of her dreams. Very rarely, he used to mock her by referring to different names such as Mama or the Haze girl. 

Conclusion

Throughout the novel, the influence between European and American cultures result in eternal misunderstandings and conflict making it more interesting and magnificient. Every essence of the novel creates a magnetic impression upon the readers. Vladimir Nabokov’s writing style is breathtakingly beautiful and the intricate subtext which completely blew me away. It is scary to even think that such disturbing events can be normalised by the perspective of the story and even can go so far as making the reader think that what Humbert was doing was acceptable. I believe that the fact the readers take such a shine to Humbert shows how brilliant a writer Vladimir Nabokov is and also how, as a society, we still love to blame the victim.

Lolita is a comparison between Europe “The Old World” and America in more ways than meets the eye. Various relations between European and American cultures result in seemingly never ending conflicts throughout Nabokov’s work. Charlotte Haze is an American who’s daughter is the coquettish Lolita. Humbert Humbert is a European man who is interesting in many facets. Charlotte, a “typical” American, is lured by Humbert’s sophistication and worldliness. She quickly marries him due to his intellect and charm. While on the other hand, Humbert has no feelings for Charlotte. He thinks of the American culture as superficial and evanescent in which Charlotte has the role of a guileless and artless housewife. Humbert soon becomes infatuated with her daughter, Lolita, and her many crudities. He enscribes her daily actions in detail during his travels through America with her, showcasing the opportunities the country has for freedom. In the novel, he states that he defiled America rather than the other way around.

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