A Comparison Of Nabokov's Humbert

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The trial of Humbert Humbert versus Hermann Hermann; the seductive capabilities of Nabokov’s predators
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When thinking about Nabokov’s Humbert, the predatory paedophile as well as the murderer from Lolita, one does sometimes wonder if he is not a victim of his illness. Some may also argue in his favour claiming that he indeed was deeply in love with Lolita, which could justify his behaviour. Nabokov’s Hermann Hermann from Despair, the older and worse-known brother of Humbert Humbert, does not provoke feelings of sympathy, even though his crimes are on a similar, if not worse, level of cruelty. I will argue that although both characters are undoubtedly criminals, they do also possess some good qualities that make them less monstrous
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As they are protective, important figures in young girls’ lives, they automatically see their fathers as those who can provide them with everything they may need from their lives. Disturbingly enough, young girls glorifying much older men whom they can call “daddy”, has become a norm. Alien Outfitters, one of a popular website that teenagers and young people can shop on, has in offer a whole variety of clothes with “daddy” written on them: a set of “Yes, Daddy?”, “Daddy’s Little Slut” and “Property of Daddy” knickers, targeted at male shoppers (daddies themselves) T-shirts encouraging us to “come to daddy”, pink “Spank me, daddy” stickers – anything to let the world know you have a daddy or that you are one. The protection of an older, preferably rich man of interesting tastes that can afford to spend money on a girl. In return, she spends time in his company, which often ends with him consummating their specific relationship. The idea behind this fetish is that a sugar daddy takes care of a sugar baby, cares for her and takes financial care of her, just like the real father would. This fetishizing of the father/daughter relationship becomes problematic if it romanticized paedophilia in the light of a…show more content…
On one hand Humbert is presented as a dangerous predator hunting his victim. On the other hand, he is a romantic, poetic and passionate lover, and „ he [Nabokov] creates characters who are both ecstatic and cruel, noticing and heartless, poets who are only selectively curious, obsessives who are as sensitive as they are callous. What he fears most is that one cannot have it both ways–that there is no synthesis of ecstasy and kindness.” (Rorty 160) That is why Nabokov’s evil heroes remain at the same time fascinating and peculiar. Lolita, Humbert’s underage love object, happens to be too young to be considered Humbert’s “sugar baby”, even for today’s standards and there can be hardly anyone who would try to find her fault in her own misfortune: “In fact, there is no indication in Nabokov’s novel that Lolita looked in any way overtly seductive, that she dressed to provoke, or that her sexual appetites were significantly different from those of her 1940s classmates” (Vickers 8). The perverse nature of their relationship is caused by the fact that Lolita is not only a very young girl, but also that he was married to his mother. Following her death, Humbert kidnapped Lolita and sexually abused her numerous times while pretending to be her father. That is what Humbert is best at: pretending,
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