Humbert Humbert and Cue

"... in the destructive element immerse..."(from Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad)

Through the lens of Humbert Humbert's obsession with la nymphette Lolita, ("Lo-lee-ta... light of my life, fire of my loins..."(9)), Nabokov explores and illuminates the cyclical and ever deepening spiral of human desire. Humbert Humbert, thrown back and forth between "... desire and decision, the two things that create a live world..."(71), crosses countless times the slim and shadowy line between purest ecstasy and most wretched despair. In Lolita, Nabokov blurs the defining lines between love and perversion, right and wrong, presenting them, in uncomfortably close juxtaposition, as essentially dependent upon each other.

Humbert Humbert is a tortured man, deeply divided between a sensitive rationality, and his undeniable lust for a forbidden and unripened fruit. United in him are the impulses of a romantic European gentleman, and the obsessions of a lascivious and lecherous old man silently lusting after the tantalizingly ephemeral nymphet -- he is a volatile, fatal juxtaposition of opposite extremes. After years of this silent lust, of "... abusing himself in the dark..."(88), Humbert Humbert finds Lolita....

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 727 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4230 literature essays, 1407 sample college application essays, 171 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in