Solipsism In Lolita Essay

980 words - 4 pages

Solipsism, which is the theory that one’s mind is the only entity certain to exist, has various moral implications that allow people with solipsistic views of their world to justify their mistreatment of others. In Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Humbert Humbert, a self-proclaimed murderer and lover of “nymphets”, demonstrates a solipsistic worldview which causes him to see everything in relationship to himself, creating new personas for various characters and only narrating the series of events from his perspective. Humbert’s solipsism makes him view everything that happens to him solely from his point of view, as he believes his mind is all that exists, therefore making the events that transpire solely acts of fate and the people he encounters figments of his imagination. Humbert’s solipsism compromises the reliability of his narration, as he describes characters exclusively from his point of view by stripping them of their individuality and describing them solely in relation to himself; Humbert’s tendency to write exclusively from his own point of view forces the reader to accept the series of events he presents as the truth, without any external input, allowing him to completely control the reader’s perception of him and the events of the novel.
Humbert’s solipsism allows him to create his own imaginary world in which he controls everything, including the creation of a cast of characters whom he describes however he sees fit; Humbert’s description of various characters, especially Charlotte Haze, and allow him to control the reader’s perception of the plot, removing any objectivity from his narration. Humbert’s desire for sympathy from the reader in order to justify his actions causes him to describe certain characters in specific ways to accomplish this goal. Humbert’s hebephilia becomes increasingly apparent to the reader as when he meets Dolores Haze, the daughter of Charlotte Haze, a typical American woman from whom he rents a room. Humbert understands the views society has on the idea of a relationship between an older man and a younger woman, which impacts how he describes Charlotte, making his description subjective to how he wants the reader to perceive him instead of describing Charlotte accurately. Humbert shows his initial contempt for Charlotte, writing, “the poor lady was in her middle thirties, she had a shiny forehead, plucked eyebrows” (37) as well as describing her as “one of those women whose polished words may reflect a book club or a bridge club, or any other deadly conventionality, but never her soul” (37). Humbert introduces Mrs. Haze to the reader with disdain, portraying her as a superficial woman who focuses heavily on her appearance and as inferior to himself, giving a subjective description of her that will allow him to control the reader’s perception of Charlotte. As Humbert and Charlotte’s relationship progresses and he begins to act upon his lust for...

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