Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

Discussion of the Dispossession of Lolita’s sexuality in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita

Category Lolita, Sexuality
Essay type Discussion
Words 1011 (4 pages)
Views 337

In the novel Lolita, the concept of sexuality is greatly emphasized by the author. It is apparent in the character of Lolita and Humber that one is in control over the other. Humbert possesses greater power over Lolita to make all her needs possible.

On the other hand Lolita uses sex as her way of gaining things that she desires. There is a big complex relationship between the tow since Lolita is in dispossession of her sexuality and Humbert is in possession of it.

Haven’t found the relevant content? Hire a subject expert to help you with Discussion of the Dispossession of Lolita’s sexuality in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita

Hire writer

The sexual relationship of the two main characters can be considered unnatural because Lolita is only on her 12 years. But since Lolita is in dispossession of her sexuality she agreed to the consummation of their relationship although giving the consent to sexual relations with an old man is really no consent.

She can by no means what so ever be held accountable for, or be said to legitimately consent to, the sexual relationship between the two.  The question of power and control between the two main characters in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is crucially linked to the fundamental weakness and vulnerability of both the erotically obsessed Humbert Humbert and the childish object of his obsession, Lolita herself.

The first instance of Humbert’s attempting to bribe and pacify Lolita with material offerings occurs at the point in the narrative where she first learns of her mother’s death.  This is also the point, following their first full-fledged sexual encounter, where Lolita initiates the practice of sardonic reference to the immorality and illegality of their relationship.  She has actually suffered internal injury from their intercourse and does not yet seem to have a manipulative purpose for verbally goading her stepfather/lover.

“You chump,” she said, sweetly smiling at me.  “You revolting creature.  I was a daisy-fresh girl, and look what you’ve done to me.  I ought to call the police and tell them you raped me.  Oh, you dirty, dirty old man.” (Nabokov 141)

Humbert then informs her of Charlotte Haze’s death.  Lolita’s grief and indignation are announced by the fact that in their next lodging they take separate rooms.  Humbert has already cited a list of purchases he has made in hopes of mollifying her—everything from a box of candy to a travel clock to a new wardrobe of summer dresses.  But it is her complete childish dependency and vulnerability that bring her to him.

“At the motel we had separate rooms, but in the middle of the night she came sobbing into mine, and we made it up very gently.  You see, she had absolutely nowhere else to go” (Nabokov 142)

Lolita “works” hard in order to get her allowance. It is atypical for her to do a work like that at her age because it means that she needs to have sex with him to get everything that she needs and wants.  Humber will ask Lolita to perform sexual favors for him so that he can give him allowance in return.

This is one of the visible proofs that he is in control over her sexuality. The control is not only based on a psychological level but also on a physical level. Everything that she needs, from a simple candy or cartoon magazine and a visit to a movie house will not be easily granted if she will not perform any sexual encounter with Humbert. Although there are several times that she gains fulfillment by getting her desires, she is still in no control of the situation or her sexuality.

“Her weekly allowance, paid to her under condition she fulfill her basic obligations, was twenty-one cents at the start of the Beardsley era-and went up to one dollar five before its end.

This was more than generous arrangement seeing she constantly received from me all kinds of small presents and had for the asking any sweetmeat or movie under the moon-although, of course, I might fondly demand an additional kiss, or even a whole collection of assorted caresses, when I knew she coveted very badly some item of juvenile amusement” (Nabokov 183-184).

Lolita becomes, in effect—and as a result of forces brought relentlessly to bear on her essentially vital and resilient nature, she is a live-in prostitute of the most venal nature. “O Reader!  Laugh not, as you imagine me, on the very wrack of joy noisily emitting dimes and quarters, and great big silver dollars like some sonorous, jingly and wholly demented machine vomiting riches; and in the margin of that leaping epilepsy she would firmly clutch a handful of coins in her little fist” (Nabokov 184).

That understated “little fist” line is the moral center of this passage.  Lolita is still a child.  Whatever her learned capacity for degenerate bargaining, what she loses—and what she knows she is losing—by her required performance of sexually “paradisal philters” is the carefree childhood to which she is entitled by the developmental norms of her society.

Even in school. Lolita experiences great trouble connecting with the boys in the way her teachers feel she should. She displays behavior that is really differently from the other girls. This also strengthens the fact of the argument that Humbert is in possession of her sexuality, and she cannot do anything about it.  “Dolly Haze, she said is a lovely child but, the onset of sexual maturing seems to give her trouble” (Nabokov 193).

 Humbert deprives Lolita of every possibility of salutary contact with males her own age.  In fact he deprives her of performing any and all activities that will drive her away from his desires for addictive gratification.  Part of this is his fear that Lolita will tell other people the kind of life thay have whenever they are together.

Participation in school theatricals becomes a particular source of tension for Humbert.  This issue is resolved, in typical fashion, by an unusually exciting favor.  During a visit to her school, Humbert comes to a classroom where Dolly is quietly studying in the company of another girl. “I sat beside Dolly…and unbuttoned my overcoat and for sixty-five cents plus the permission to participate in the school play, had Dolly put her inky, chalky, red-knuckled hand under the desk” (Nabokov 198).

Discussion of the Dispossession of Lolita’s sexuality in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita essay

Haven’t found the relevant content? Hire a subject expert to help you with Discussion of the Dispossession of Lolita’s sexuality in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita

Hire writer

Cite this page

Discussion of the Dispossession of Lolita’s sexuality in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. (2016, Jun 23). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/discussion-of-the-dispossession-of-lolitas-sexuality-in-vladimir-nabokovs-lolita/

Not Finding What You Need?

Search for essay samples now

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Save time and let our verified experts help you.

Hire writer