Manipulation, Blame, and Self-Justification in Lolita: a Narration of Questionable Rationality Essay

1826 WordsOct 15, 20148 Pages
Manipulation, Blame, and Self-Justification in Lolita: A Narration of Questionable Rationality Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita goes against mainstream literary works written in the point of view of the victim by making the “predator,” Humbert Humbert, the narrator. Humbert Humbert’s unreliability as a character and a narrator requires the reader to constantly question his testimony, penetrating the narrative to discover excluded points of view. His portrayals of Lolita, Charlotte Haze, Clare Quilty, and himself are extremely biased and with these the unreliable narrator paints a questionable picture in the reader’s mind. Humbert Humbert portrays the characters as he would like his readers to see them, excluding anything that might lead his audience, a jury in the court of law to whom he can make his defense, astray from his systematic account of his love for Lolita. Through manipulation, blame, and self-justification, Humbert Humbert attempts to provide his readers and jury with an understanding of his passion for and obsession with Lolita, and the knowledge that he is aware of his wrong-doings, while still attempting to express what he believes to be his rationality throughout his narration. As readers, we are challenged to gain insight into Humbert’s personality through his devious techniques of narration and his attempts of rationalization as well as a sense that Lolita is much more complicated than Humbert Humbert lets on. From the beginning of the novel, the reader is confronted with Humbert Humbert’s unreliability and his willingness to manipulate the reader by altering the “facts.” John Ray Jr. describes the narrator as wearing a mask (his pseudonym, “Humbert Humbert”) “through which two hypnotic eyes seem to glow,” (Nabokov 3) illustrating Humbert’s deceptive means of storytelling. The reader is also presented with Humbert’s current state in legal captivity

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