Vladimir Nabokov's Techiniques of Rhetoric in Lolita
In this brief essay, I will draw upon Lolita to demonstrate how Vladimir
Nabokov uses the techniques of rhetoric to create an explication of the female body, encapsulated in the characters of both the adolescent Lolita and her older, less nubile mother, Charlotte.
In the novel, we as readers are presented with the spectacle of a man facing the awful truth of his own existence: that he has come to a point of no return in his life, and he has no one except himself to thank for this problem. It is his fascination with women as sex objects and with his own sexuality that has brought him to this pass. Nabokov is said to work hard to purge his narrator's voices of all commitments save one that is all-powerful, as well as preoccupying in the extreme. Nabokov makes his narrators both commentators and participants in the plot and action of the story. The all-powerful commitment central to Lolita is the commitment of Humbert Humbert to his own sexual, erotic passions and drives. In the name of these passions and drives, he is ready to sacrifice everything, even financial security. Nabokov believes in the ironic interest and the poignancy of a man's fated self-destruction. Thus, what we see in the character of Humbert Humbert is a...
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