The novel Lolita initially talks about how Humbert being sixteen when he met a girl his own age and felt infatuated towards ‘Annabel’. The two fell shamelessly, and clumsily in love with each other and had their inexperience and a constant surveillance of the parents not interfered, they surely would have consummated their relation. Even such impediments couldn’t keep them physically astray: “I was on my knees and on the point of possessing my darling, when two bearded bathers, the old man of the sea and his brother, came out of the sea, with exclamation of ribald encouragement and four months later she died of typhus, in Corfu”.
Humbert describes and gives all the credit to Annabel because if it weren’t for her and her death, he would not have realized his passion towards ‘nymphets’ particularly, Lolita or Dolores Haze. “In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, a certain initial girl-child.” The coinage of the name ‘Lolita’ refers to Humbert’s feelings towards Dolores. It is a name by which he prefers to call her that denotes his lust, his passion, and his helpless love towards the pubescent child. “She was Dolly at school. Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms, she was always Lolita”
Critical Analysis of the novel
The surfacing of the platonic relationship between Humbert H. and Dolores Haze has been to a large extent disturbing and the reason to bring out the feeling of disgust and filth. Humbert H. was a married man during the first part of the novel, although not happily. He divorces his wife on the coming of Lolita. He exclaims that he couldn’t be ‘exhilarated’ enough. In order to possess Lolita, he marries Charlotte, Dolores’s mother.
However, on finding out the truth about Humbert’s intentions via a sneak in his diary, she writes a letter to her friends to warn them about him. She plans to post the letters and take Dolores and run away. But as tragedy hits the plot of the novel, we find Charlotte tumbling down the road of death as a car hits her while she sets out to post the letter. It was then that the two, Humbert and Dolores set out on the journey of the country guising themselves as ‘Father and Daughter’.
A Different Take
Research in psychology claims that pedophilia is a prolonged version of Oedipus complex, which is a theory highly controverted, coined by Sigmund Freud (father of psychology). The case of Sally Horner, which matches a few incidents in the novel is truly horrifying; but what is more horrifying is the mural Humbert H. dreams of painting.
On the walls of the dining room of a motel, which marked as the first place of his and Lolita’s sexual congress. “There would have been a fire opal dissolving within a ripple-ringed pool, a last throb, a last dab of color, stinging red, smearing pink, a sigh, a wincing child.” The irony is that Humbert had been so eager to deflower our little Lolita but to his dismay, she reveals that she had already let a senior of hers penetrate her, leaving Humbert with the conclusion that she wasn’t a ‘virgin’ so to say. Humbert H. is seen in the novel ‘raping’ Dolores numerous times till she is abducted by her mother’s friends Clare Quilty, who happens to be a playwright. After two painful years, Humbert receives a letter from our dear old Lolita, claiming that she was pregnant and in desperate need of money.
After tracking down the address, he learns that she was in love with a deaf mechanic. Like a true ‘father’ he helps Dolores by giving her the money, however, he goes over to Quilty to seek good old revenge. He shoots him several times in his house, from where he is arrested later. All stories of revenge have had decent motives. Humbert H. when learns that the reason why Dolores fled from Quilt’s custody was that he tried to cast her into one of his child pornographic film, to which she blatantly refused. Even till the end, we do not see any signs of regret or remorse that Humbert H. might’ve felt.
Even while being arrested, instead of pleading guilty, he pleads that his memoir be withheld from public release till the very date of his death. This we were made noticeably clear of from the starting, as Humbert H. blatantly called himself a murderer: “you can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style”. So, what happened to our dear old Lolita? Well, she dies during childbirth in 1952, on a Christmas eve.
The novel did not take much time after it became the eye piece for critics to reach to the level of being called as classic. Nabokov in the afterword assures the readers that “despite John Ray’s assertion, Lolita has no moral in tow.” Nabokov ends the novel stating that: “and this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.” To conclude I would like to quote a few words from the publisher taken from him after he read the manuscript: “He finds the book not only admirable from the literary point of view, but he thinks that it might lead to a change in social attitudes toward the kind of love described in Lolita, provided of course that it has this authenticity, this burning and irrepressible ardor.”