Humberts Descriptions Of Charlotte Haze English Literature Essay

Literature is non entirely a method of amusement. It is besides used to spread out a readers head by leting them to come in a different universe. To make so, a reader will frequently hold to suspend their incredulity. It is really rare that one must oppugn what he/she is reading. Vladimir Nabokov ‘s Lolita is the confession of an learned European intellectual with an obsessional desire for “ nymphets ” -girls between the ages of nine and 14s who are, as he Judgess them, sexually cognizant. In Humbert Humbert ‘s confession, he admits to the old ages of molestation of a immature miss referred to as Lolita ( Dolores Haze ) . This confession is written by him while expecting test for a apparently unrelated slaying. At the terminal of the novel, Humbert states that the slaying he committed was an act of love and he rationalizes non merely his force but his paedophilia. Although the confession seems free-flowing and a goad of the minute determination on the portion of the storyteller, how does Nabokov bespeak that Humbert Humbert is an undependable storyteller through the usage of literary devices and lingual forms in Lolita? Despite Humbert Humbert ‘s horrid offenses, his linguistic communication and pun make for a more pleasant reading experience than one would anticipate. Through the usage of word picture, enunciation, and comparing and contrast, Nabokov suggests that Humbert is undependable and wittingly writes a narrative that paints himself as a victim of fortunes.

Word picture:

As Humbert Humbert is the storyteller of the novel, he characterizes the persons in the narrative. No 2nd sentiments are presented ; therefore the reader is given a unidimensional reading of each character. There are hints in the novel that suggest Humbert ‘s descriptions are biased in his favor, including the rapid alterations in the characters ‘ personalities and the tone in which they are described.

Humbert ‘s descriptions of Charlotte Haze, in peculiar, change significantly as the narrative progresses. Charlotte, Lolita ‘s female parent and Humbert ‘s eventual married woman in the novel, is a middle-class American homemaker who aspires to be sophisticated and civilized. Her relationship with her girl is strained as she focuses all her attending on suiting her boarder Humbert Humbert, who finds her unbearable and merely wants entree to Lolita ( Dolores Haze ) . During the beginning of the novel and the beginning of their relationship, Humbert refers to Charlotte merely as “ the Haze adult female ” . His disgust and exasperation is evident even at the reference of her presence. When first depicting Charlotte to the reader, Humbert states: “ I think I had better depict her right off, to acquire it over with. She was, evidently, one of those adult female whose polished words may reflect a book nine… but ne’er her psyche ; adult females who are wholly barren of temper ” ( Nabokov 37 ) . His disfavor for Charlotte is made clear from the minute she is introduced to the reader ; nevertheless Humbert continues to indicate out her coarseness and deficiency of edification. One dark, while in secret caressing Lolita on the forepart porch, Humbert writes: “ [ Lo ] fidgeted a good trade so that eventually her female parent told her aggressively to discontinue it and sent [ her ] doll winging into the dark ” ( Nabokov 46 ) . Charlotte ‘s behavior seems extraordinary and contemptuous. However, it is interesting that whenever Humbert has any inappropriate contact with Lolita, he follows rapidly by composing of Charlotte ‘s disdain towards her girl. After his contact with Lolita on the forepart porch, he rather sardonically writes the undermentioned extract:

“ [ Lolita ] had been vindictive, if you please, at the age of one, when she used to throw her playthings out of her cot, so that her hapless female parent should maintain picking them up, the nefarious baby. Now, at 12, she was a regular plague, said Haze. Her classs were hapless. Of class, moodiness is a common accompaniment of turning up, but Lolita exagerrate [ vitamin D ] . Sullen and evasive. Rude and defiant ” ( Nabokov 46 ) .

Although showing Charlotte ‘s defeat with her girl, the address is non a direct quotation mark from Charlotte bespeaking that Humbert is rephrasing what she has told him. This harsh-toned address seems to be a convenient gambit on the portion of the storyteller to deflect from the fact that he took advantage of a immature miss ‘s trust for his ain physical satisfaction. In fact, throughout the novel, Humbert ‘s maltreatment of Lolita is followed by negative duologues from the other characters. Nabokov seems to propose that Humbert ‘s confession is good thought-out and biased in his favor. It seems the storyteller wants to warrant his actions. After Lolita tags along to a shopping trip with him and Charlotte, Humbert quotes her female parent as stating: “ It is unbearable that a kid should be so bad-mannered… when she knows she is unwanted ” ( Nabokov 51 ) . While they are driving, Humbert takes advantage of Lolita ‘s propinquity to “ keep, stroke, and squeezing [ her ] small paw all the manner to the shop ” ( Nabokov 51 ) . Humbert uses Charlotte ‘s disdain towards Lolita to warrant his “ fondness ” towards her. Although this physical contact is externally guiltless, Humbert ‘s purposes are clearly pedophilic. It is by qualifying Charlotte as unmotherly and unkind that Humbert attempts to derive the reader ‘s understanding. He portrays himself as a male parent figure supplying a abused miss with love.

Before her decease in the novel, Charlotte is portrayed as a brutal, unloving female parent. However, after she is accidently killed, Humbert is free to “ parent ” Lolita. After he collects Lolita from the summer cantonment she was forced to go to, one notices the alteration in the tone he uses to turn to Charlotte. Lolita, since returning from cantonment, has remained troublesome and Moody. After Humbert has consummated his “ relationship ” with the immature miss, they engage on a long route trip including many cavity Michigans and shopping trips. The adolescent miss is non peculiarly basking their ocean trip and is intelligibly coarse and disquieted. Humbert is quoted many times as stating: “ Charlotte, I begin to understand you! ” ( Nabokov 149 ) . Humbert narrates and characterizes other persons in a manner that will elicit understanding for himself. Previously, when Humbert would prosecute in inappropriate contact with Lolita, he would intentionally indicate out her female parent ‘s detached nature to warrant his touching her kid. Now that Charlotte, the obstruction, has been overcome and Humbert on a regular basis molests and abuses her girl, he points out Lolita ‘s impossible qualities. He now understands Charlotte and points out that she was non as negative a individual as she seemed. Humbert does this in order to paint himself as a tired male parent seting up with his hard girl ‘s every caprice.

Humbert ‘s descriptions of Lolita besides change, taking the character ‘s likeability as the narrative progresses. At the beginning of the novel, Lolita is described as closely resembling Annabel, Humbert ‘s childhood love. Humbert explains that he is immediately captivated by her beauty: “ When I passed her in my grownup camouflage, the vacuity of my psyche managed to suck in every item of her bright beauty ” ( Nabokov 39 ) . Although Lolita is a second-rate American kid, vulgar and even less polished than her female parent, Humbert seems to see the miss through rose-coloured spectacless. To him, she is non coarse, but capturing, non aggressive, but misunderstood by her deplorable female parent. Although Humbert does non appreciate Lolita ‘s adoration of American dad civilization, nil much else is said with respects to her mind. Interesting to observe is Lolita ‘s minimum duologue in this portion of the novel. She does non state much, except for her frequent statements with Charlotte. In these statements, Lolita is non portrayed as a delicate kid, but instead a strong-minded, aggressive miss. “ I think you stink ” and “ this is a free state ” are some of the statements made to her female parent during their verbal battles ( Nabokov 46 ) . During one peculiar battle, Humbert writes: “ Subsequently, I heard a great banging of doors and other sounds coming from quivering caverns where the two challengers were holding a ripping row ” ( Nabokov 48 ) . Writing this, Humbert indicates that Lolita is able to keep her ain against her female parent. She is non the type to be trampled over or forced to make anything. By including duologues and descriptions such as these, Humbert suggests that Lolita is a strong kid who gets what she wants.

In add-on to depicting her bad-temper, the physical contact between Humbert and Lolita is ever said to be instigated by the miss. Humbert narrates: “ Soon an old grey tennis ball bounced over [ Charlotte ] , and Lo ‘s voice came from the house haughtily: ‘Pardonnez, Mother. I was non taking at you. ‘ Of class non, my hot downy darling ” ( Nabokov 55 ) . What to an mean individual would look like a playful act derived from ennui, Humbert tries to exemplify as an act of seduction. Humbert portrays Lolita as a willing participant in his games, as shown in the undermentioned extract: “ Humbert Humbert intercepted [ her ] apple. In a fake attempt to recover it, [ Lo ] was all over me. Every motion she made, every shuffling and rippling, helped me to hide and to better the secret system of haptic correspondence between animal and beauty-between my gagged, spliting animal and the beauty of her dimpled organic structure in its guiltless cotton frock ” ( Nabokov 58-59 ) . Although Humbert sits at that place about inert during this brush, and although Lolita comes to him, he instigates the state of affairs by “ innocently ” taking her fruit from her.

After her stay at a summer cantonment, Lolita ‘s gender has changed drastically as the reader learns she has had her foremost sexual brush. In this portion of the novel, through direct quotation marks, Lolita is characterized otherwise. She is really badgering of Humbert: “ I did non [ girl you ] . Fact I ‘ve been disgustingly unfaithful to you, but it does non count one spot, because you ‘ve stopped caring for me anyhow… you have n’t kissed me yet, have you? ” ( Nabokov 112 ) . Humbert so narrates: “ Lolita positively flowed into my weaponries ” ( Nabokov 113 ) . This is the first serious brush the two characters have: a kiss Humbert narrates as holding been Lolita ‘s thought. Although Humbert describes the assurance with which Lolita engages in this behavior, he besides reveals that it was but an guiltless game on her portion, an imitation of bogus love affair.

Having already lost her virginity to a immature adult male at cantonment, Lolita initiates sexual intercourse with Humbert during their stay at a hotel. However, more than a romantic spouse, Nabokov illustrates Lolita as a immature miss in hunt of fondness of any sort. Charlotte, non suiting the maternal original whatsoever, was covetous of the relationship between Humbert and Lolita. Having non yet learned that her female parent is dead, and believing Humbert and Charlotte are still married, Lolita ‘s contact and conversation with Humbert resembles a acrimonious act of rebellion against her female parent who forced her to go to cantonment ( an experience she describes as “ dirty ” and “ naughty ” despite her cool demeanour ) . Having sex with Humbert seems like more of a game to Lolita as she does non understand the badness of her actions. However, it is a manner of bewraying her female parent, merely as Charlotte betrayed her by directing her to bivouac. When Humbert reveals in a most insensitive manner that Charlotte is dead, Lolita is genuinely brokenhearted. Humbert writes: “ At the hotel, we had separate suites, but in the center of the dark she came sobbing into mine, and we made it up really gently ” ( Nabokov 142 ) . The citation suggests that the two engaged in sexual dealingss one time once more, and although Humbert does non stipulate why Lolita was shouting, it was most surely due to the decease of her female parent and non the mild statement she had with him. The statement illustrates a immature miss with no 1 to turn to demur for the grownup who victimizes her. Having lost her female parent, her lone leftover parent, Lolita turns to Humbert-her proficient male parent. He uses her demand for fondness to derive control of the state of affairs for his ain physical satisfaction.

Despite frequent duologues and descriptions in which Lolita is shown to be unhappy and vulnerable, Humbert adds his ain colored readings of Lolita ‘s behavior. She is characterized as a manipulative, able miss. If she is non bought certain things, if she is non allowed to travel to certain topographic points, Lolita withholds sex from Humbert. This is an unfavorable word picture of the immature miss as her organic structure is the lone power she possesses. She has no money, and without Humbert, she can non last. In order to set herself in a place of power and accomplish some kind of wages for her agony, Lolita uses her sexuality-something Humbert describes as cruel, manipulative promiscuousness. Killing Clare Quilty, the adult male with whom Lolita runs off, Humbert describes as an act of love for holding forced Lolita into poorness. His possessiveness in this portion of the novel indicates that he is supporting his honor instead than hers. Humbert writes his confession in order to convert the reader that though he is guilty, he was controlled by a force greater than himself. Through his dynamic word picture of the other characters, Humbert unwittingly reveals he is merely interested in stating the narrative from a point of view that will let the reader to sympathise with him.


In add-on to character development in Lolita, enunciation is besides implicative of Humbert ‘s undependable narrative. Throughout the novel, the reader is entranced by Humbert ‘s fancy prose manner. It is the linguistic communication used that makes the monstrous subjects in the novel bearable. However, many repeating words and lingual forms used by Humbert betray the character he wants to make.

Although Humbert wants his confession to look indifferent and unplanned, the first paragraphs of the fresh indicate that his confession is directed to a peculiar audience- ” [ the ] ladies and gentlemen of the jury ” ( Nabokov 9 ) . He, himself, titles his work “ Lolita ” , as it is basically the narrative of the immature miss. However, the preface written by the fictional Dr. John Ray titles it “ The Confession of a White Widowed Male ” . It is interesting that it is ever during the most monstrous scenes in the novel that Humbert straight acknowledges the presence of the reader. When chew overing whether or non to kill Charlotte, Humbert straight engages the reader ( s ) : “ And, folks, I merely could n’t! In silence I turned shoreward… and still I could non do myself drown the hapless, slippery, big-bodied animal ” ( Nabokov 87 ) . At times during the “ confession ” , Humbert ‘s authorship becomes about self-reflective-it seems he gets lost in his past experiences. However, in the minutes where his ethical motives come into inquiry and where his behavior becomes condemnable, he speaks straight to the reader. Humbert about acts as his ain attorney, and in an facile persuasive tone, tries to rock the reader in his favor.

Humbert besides uses pun to bode Clare Quilty ‘s engagement and significance to the narrative. In the beginning of the novel, Humbert reads a reappraisal. Clare Quilty ‘s name appears, alongside others, and dramas are listed including The Small Nymph and Fatherly Love. Humbert says that Lolita could hold appeared in a drama called The Murdered Playwright, touching to playwright Clare Quilty ‘s slaying. Quilty ‘s presence is ever felt in Lolita even before his character is introduced. This leads the reader to believe that Humbert ‘s narration is non free-flowing, but instead serves a direct intent: to derive understanding from the reader for the slaying he committed.

In add-on to the alteration in audience, the intension and tone of the words used alteration depending on the state of affairs. Besides Humbert ‘s descriptions of nymphets, every other character and experience in his confession is described with cynicism and annoyance. Nymphets are introduced as fantastical existences: “ ‘Nine ‘ and ‘fourteen ‘ [ are ] the boundaries-the mirrory beaches and rose-colored rocks-of an enchanted island haunted by those nymphets… and surrounded by a huge, brumous sea ” ( Nabokov 16 ) . This description seems out-of-character for Humbert, who otherwise nowadayss himself to be ( within ground ) rational. Humbert besides states that non all misss in this age scope are nymphets. It is “ the somewhat feline lineation of a zygomatic bone, the slenderness of a downy limb [ which identify ] the small deathly devil of… antic power ” ( Nabokov 17 ) . Humbert chooses to coin the term “ nymphet ” alternatively of utilizing the recognized term of “ minor miss ” . By saying that he is non attracted to all immature misss, Humbert tries to divide himself from “ regular ” paedophiles. The charming tone that surrounds these descriptions makes it look as though Humbert is non in self-denial and submits to the powers of these mystical devils who drive him to abnormalcy. It is interesting to observe that Humbert is really scientific and proficient in other parts of the book utilizing slang such as “ pederosis ” and “ pseudolibidoes ” . The two different methods of talking represent Humbert ‘s ability to alter harmonizing to circumstance.

While seeking to explicate his weakness in the presence of Lolita ( and other nymphets ) , Humbert betrays himself through his word pick. Although eloquent, his possessiveness leaps off the page. Whenever speech production of Lolita, apparently arbitrary descriptions include genitive pronouns. This is demonstrated legion times in the novel: “ How smugly would I wonder that she was mine, mine, mine ” ( Nabokov 161 ) . Constantly mentioning to the miss as “ my kid ” , “ my Lo ” , “ my pet ” , Nabokov italicizes the pronouns to put accent on Humbert ‘s possessiveness. Furthermore, it is interesting to look at the sentence construction. Whenever events take topographic point affecting other people, Humbert makes certain to unite Lolita and himself: “ Last dark, we sat on the plaza, the Haze adult female, Lolita and I ” . Even when authorship, Humbert must stay close to Lolita, utilizing punctuation to divide Charlotte from the two of them.

Humbert tries to label Lolita as the seducer and provoker of their physical relationship: “ She played with and kept lodging to my lap ” ( Nabokov 45 ) . Descriptions of such scenes are ne’er expressed, but when motions are described, they are ever those of Lolita. Humbert leads the reader to believe he is merely a pawn in Lolita ‘s game. In another subdivision of the narrative, he writes that “ [ Lolita ] struck Humbert, rather distressingly ” ( Nabokov 65 ) . This is yet another illustration of Humbert purposefully showcasing Lolita ‘s strength and self-control. Surprisingly, he refers to himself in the 3rd person-something he does frequently when he bribes/seduces Lolita. It is ineluctable for Humbert to implicate himself in the novel, but when he narrates the more distressing things he does, he ne’er personalizes it, utilizing “ Humbert ” alternatively of “ I ” or “ me ” . By making so, Humbert defeats the intent of a confession, non truly admiting it was him who did anything incorrect.

Although Lolita is shown to sometimes be an headlong kid, the words used to depict her when she ‘s around Humbert ever paint her as bold and aggressive. She is said to do Humbert nervous. When Lolita reproaches him for his deficiency of snoging accomplishment, Humbert tells her to “ demo [ him ] creature beam ” ( Nabokov 120 ) . It seems out-of-character for the eloquent Humbert to be so unarticulate. However, through the usage of enunciation and punctuation, Nabokov suggests that Humbert does non straight quote characters in the novel. In one portion of the novel, Humbert writes: “ ‘Look, we need to travel, ‘ said Lolita — or something along that line ” ( Nabokov 76 ) . Even though Lolita is clearly quoted, Humbert can non be certain. This allows the reader to make misgiving in Humbert, as he clearly changes duologue. Many of the letters and conversations Humbert includes in the confession, he admits are paraphrased. Therefore, it is rather hard to wholly swear Humbert ‘s narrative as some of his prejudice has necessarily seeped through.

Besides interesting are the monikers given by Humbert to other characters. Charlotte is besides known as “ the Haze adult female ” , “ cold large Haze ” and “ Lady Hum ” . Humbert reveals his ain erratic nature by altering the intension of the monikers depending on his temper. The fact that his sentiments of other characters change so quickly and so frequently indicate that Humbert is utilizing them to break his image in the eyes of the reader.

There are cases where Humbert seems disgusted with himself, depicting his attractive force to nymphets as “ a monstrous love ” ( Nabokov 83 ) . Immediately after he reproaches himself, Humbert goes on to back up paedophilias: “ We are non sex monsters! We are unhappy, mild, dog-eyed gentlemen sufficiently well-integrated to command our impulse in the presence of grownups, but ready to give old ages… of life for one opportunity to touch a nymphet. Decidedly, no slayers are we ” ( Nabokov 88 ) . Humbert ne’er apologizes for his behavior, acknowledging it is merely society that makes him experience pervert.

Contrast & amp ; Comparison:

Nabokov uses contrast and comparing in Lolita to bespeak Humbert Humbert ‘s colored narrative. Humbert frequently defends his pedophilia-reprimanding society ‘s lip service. He compares his relationship with Lolita to many historical twosomes: American president Abraham Lincoln and his younger married woman, Italian bookman Petrarch and 12 year-old Laureen, and poet Dante Alighieri and his 9 year-old comrade. Humbert references these relationships as if to formalize his relationship with Lolita. These work forces, whose adult females were frequently their Muse, served great intent to society. Humbert inquiries the confines the jurisprudence puts on his people ( paedophiles ) , as these work forces of great position improved the universe while sharing his love of nymphets. It is of import to observe Humbert does non brood on the age of these work forces or the clip period they lived in ( 100s of old ages ago ) .

In add-on to this, Humbert makes a direct comparing between Annabel, his childhood love, and Lolita. Dolores Haze takes on multiple names: Lo, Lola, Dolly, Hot Little Haze, and Lolita. Humbert states that: “ in [ his ] weaponries, she was ever Lolita ” ( Nabokov 9 ) . Subsequently on in the novel, one discovers that “ Lolita ” is derived from uniting Annabel ‘s name with the name “ Dolores ” . “ Annabel Lee ” and “ Dolores ” produce “ Lo-lee-ta ” . Although Humbert ridicules head-shrinkers, he drops many hints ( including this pun ) that suggest that Annabel ‘s early decease is the ground for his attractive force to underage misss. A love taken from him during a delicate age taking to sickness-this image, he hopes, will elicit the reader ‘s understanding. In the novel, Humbert ‘s love scenes with Annabel are slightly expressed ; they use many metaphors and symbols: “ I was ready to offer her everything, my bosom, my pharynx, my visceras, I gave her to keep in her awkward fist the sceptre of my passion ” ( Nabokov 15 ) . As he and Annabel are of the same age, Humbert can be more direct with the reader in these scenes. Conversely, Lolita ‘s sexual scenes with Humbert are speedy and do non depict any physical interaction. One assumes that Humbert does this to avoid eliciting disgust in the reader. This indicates that Humbert formulates his narrative in a manner that keeps the reader on his side.

Throughout Lolita, comparings are made between older adult females and misss Humbert deems to be nymphets. Older adult females, no affair their function in Humbert ‘s life, are ever unattractive, barbarous and stupid. Valeria, Humbert ‘s first married woman, is described as fat, dumb and wholly awkward. Charlotte Haze is besides fat, gross outing and annoying. Young misss are ever painted as desirable. The most beautiful linguistic communication is used to convert the reader of the power of these nymphets. They are “ seductive ” , “ physically-tone ” , and “ delicate ” ( Nabokov 17 ) . Humbert tries to exemplify older adult females as revolting, so the reader will be able to sympathize with his life style. Younger male childs, nevertheless, are ne’er described in the same visible radiation as immature misss. They are soiled, abhorrent, and unsafe. Any boy Lolita speaks to, any server who comes into contact with her is described negatively. Humbert portrays himself as Lolita ‘s defender, unwilling to allow her be tarnished by these lowly animals.

This is how he sees Clare Quilty. He is the adult male who kidnaps his “ girl ” and so abandons her. Before Humbert discovers that Quilty is the adult male Lolita runs off with, Humbert sets out on a mission “ to follow the fugitiveaˆ¦to destroy [ his ] brother ” ( Nabokov 247 ) . In the concluding scenes where Humbert and Quilty are contending, Humbert narrates: “ I rolled over him. We rolled over me. They rolled over him. We rolled over us ” ( Nabokov 299 ) . This is the lone clip in the novel when Humbert ( indirectly ) acknowledges his errors. Mentioning to Quilty as “ his brother ” , Humbert illustrates that they are one in the same. They both helped in destructing a immature miss. This is the lone minute of compunction shown in the novel, as Humbert rapidly reverts back to reprobating Quilty.


Although readers frequently expect the storyteller of a novel to be wholly true, it is of import to oppugn the dependability of the storyteller. In Lolita, Nabokov indicates that storyteller Humbert Humbert has his ain personal docket and tells the narrative in a really colored manner through the usage of word picture, enunciation, and comparing and contrast. Why so is this novel so compelling to read? Why does the reader insist on being lectured by the corrupt Humbert and feeding into his prevarications? Although the storyteller is biased in his averments, Nabokov makes certain to include several hints to assist the reader discover Humbert ‘s misrepresentation. Lolita is non merely escape literature, as it requires the reader to actively believe about the narrative being told. By puting trust in the reader and exciting their intelligence, Nabokov has created one of the literary chef-d’oeuvres of all clip.