The narrator and protagonist of Lolita, Humbert is a European scholar with an obsessive love for "nymphets," or young, seductive girls. He feels traumatized by his interrupted childhood love for Annabel Leigh, and finds her replacement only in Lolita. He is handsome, erudite, and a profoundly gifted linguist who cajoles the "jury" - his readers - with his beautiful prose. Humbert usually gets his way, satisfying his desires for sex and violence. His intense love for Lolita often overlooks her decidedly un-nymphet-like coarseness and immaturity.
Lolita is the object of Humbert's love, a young girl who epitomizes the seductive qualities of the nymphet. Though she seems to like Humbert at first, over time she grows irritated with him and defies his authority. Beautiful, she is also vulgar, crude, and attached to popular culture.
Quilty is a playwright who dabbles in child pornography. Though he shadows Humbert throughout the novel as his Doppelgänger, or double, Nabokov only drops clues as to his identity until the end. Like Humbert, he is a highly literate pedophiliac; the difference is, Lolita truly loves Quilty, whereas she never returns Humbert's love.
Humbert boards in widower Haze's house when he sees Lolita. Haze is a middle-class woman who desperately strives for European elegance, but she is mired in American kitsch and bourgeois values. She loves Humbert, but even though she detests Lolita, she is unwilling to let him have her.
Annabel was Humbert's childhood love he met one summer. Her parents took her away before they could consummate their passions, and she died soon after, traumatizing Humbert. Lolita is the first nymphet Humbert has seen who resembles her.
Humbert's first wife, Valeria divorced him after having an affair with a Russian taxi driver.
A friend of Haze, married to John, and attracted to Humbert. She eventually dies of cancer.
A friend of Haze, married to Jean. After Jean dies, he marries someone else and moves to South America.
Lolita's naïve and good-natured young husband.
A kind divorcée Humbert drives around the country with for two years as he searches for Lolita.
Ramsdale dentist who is Clare Quilty's uncle.
A French nymphet prostitute Humbert sleeps with when he is younger.
John Ray, Jr.
The author of the foreword and editor of Humbert's memoir. Nabokov uses Ray to parody psychoanalysis and Doppelgänger doubles (his initials are doubles).
Lolita's summer camp director; her name is an allusion to Sherlock Holmes.
The boy who works at camp with whom Lolita has sex.
Frederick Beale, Jr.
Driver of the car that runs over Haze.
Lolita Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Lolita is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
I think that dismissing this as trash because one finds the content offensive is missing the point of art. This book is considered a classic for a reason. Relationships between old men and girls exist despite the disturbing nature of them. Lolita...
Since Nabokov believes fiction should not be moral, but only aesthetic, he mocks our tendency to make moral judgments by having Humbert address his readers as jury members and judges. Humbert attempts to remove moral responsibility for his actions...