Lolita: An Analysis of Obsession Through the Decades

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Lolita: An Analysis of Obsession Through the Decades

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta."

In 1958, Vladimir Nabokov created two of the most unrelenting characters in the history of literature: Humbert Humbert and Lolita Haze. His narrator's voice and main character, Humbert Humbert, explains the complex story of a man and his obsession. To set this book off from other books about obsession, Nabokov gives Humbert possibly the most socially unacceptable obsession of all: pedophilia. This obsession leads Humbert on a cross country journey to find his precious Lolita upon the discovery that she has run away and decided to marry. It is this Lolita that causes much of the controversy in the book. Is she an innocent child who is caught up by a wave of "Humbertism" that seems to control her life? Or is she simply an adult in a child's body who plays off of Humbert's obsession to gain things for herself? The answer is one that involves not only an analysis of the text, but also an analysis of the context in which the text is read. It is this analysis of context that will supply a new appreciation for not only the basic plot of Lolita, but also the underlying satire that riddles the book.

As with all literature, many of the ideas and plot twists that supply the excitement to this particular book are seen under a guise of the particular generation that reads it. Not only do these ideas no longer play an important part to the interpretation as it is transferred from generation to generation, but many times the way in which a book is written can affect the reader. The most prominent case of this happening is in the works of Shakespeare. The ideas and plots he present in his books are most often lost in our contemporary society as we find not only his word usage, but also his themes to be archaic, and unbarring on modern life. Such is the case of Nabokov's Lolita.

There is one slight difference, however, between the writing of Shakespeare, and the writing of Nabokov (and in particular Lolita).
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