Placing the Blame in Lolita College

Conversation surrounding Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita often entails the controversial discussion of whether Lolita, the young girl involved with the novel’s forty-year-old narrator, has some agency in the relationship, or whether Humbert Humbert forces her into the circumstances and keeps her trapped. Some argue that, because Lolita is only twelve years old at the start of the novel, Humbert takes advantage of the girl and she has no say in what happens to her after her mother dies. On the other hand, as we learn from Humbert, Lolita initiates many of the first sexual encounters between the pair, and Humbert is not Lolita’s first sexual partner. Also, as seen by the comments and gestures made by Lolita, the young girl plays tormenting mind games with Humbert from the very start. However, while taking into consideration that Lolita does have a significant amount of agency in the controversial relationship as she does initiate the sexual engagements and acts as if the relationship is a thrilling game, I still maintain that Lolita is trapped by Humbert and deprived of the childhood she wants until she finds the opportunity to get away. Lolita’s threatening comments, bitter attitudes, and asking for more and more money from Humbert...

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