Lolita, an essay

So usually I blog about books I’ve read and tell you what I’ve thought, but this time I’m doing something a little different. I already blogged about “Lolita,” but I recently finished an essay exploring the idea of autonomy in the novel so I thought I would give you guys a bit of an update on what I think about that.

Humbert Humbert, the narrator and pedophile of the novel, refers to himself as a poet and says “poets don’t kill” and basically my essay centres around that quote and the idea of freedom behind it. Right before Humbert says this, he considers killing Lolita’s mother, Charlotte Haze, but decides not because, as he says, “poets don’t kill.” Kinda weird right? I thought so too, until I read a little more into this quote.

If you think about it Humbert is like a poet, he’s the narrator and so he’s kind of like the author and therefore chooses his words wisely to get what he wants to say across. He also gives every character a pseudonym. So he sort of has power over every character because he controls their actions and their name. For example, he constantly admits that he’s a sex offender, yet contradicts himself by saying he’s doing nothing wrong and by the end of the novel he admits that he chose his name, Humbert Humbert, because of how “nasty” it sounds. So it seems like he admits to being the villain by the story’s end.

Going back to that quote, “poets don’t kill” … to me it seems like what Humbert is trying to say is that because he’s like a poet and is telling his story and has freedom over what his characters do and say, and even what they’re named, he also has the freedom to kill, but he chooses not to. He does use his autonomy to rape Lolita and eventually kill Quilty.

“Lolita” is an interesting book because it explores the idea of freedom through something so unorthodox and well, pretty disgusting. I’m still not a huge fan of the book, but I do appreciate it for it’s brilliance and writing style.

As much as I can argue my point, I’ll have to wait and see what my professor thinks about it. Hopefully he thinks it’s great! *fingers crossed*


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