Charlotte Haze

Keywords: charlotte haze lolita, lolita figure analysis

Literature is not only a method of entertainment. Additionally it is used to expand a readers brain by allowing them to enter an alternative world. To do so, a reader typically have to suspend their disbelief. It's very rare any particular one must question what he/she is reading. Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita is the confession associated with an erudite European intellectual with an obsessive desire for "nymphets"-girls between the age ranges of nine and fourteen who are, as he judges them, sexually aware. In Humbert Humbert's confession, he admits to the years of molestation of a girl known as Lolita (Dolores Haze). This confession is written by him while awaiting trial for a seemingly unrelated murder. At the end of the book, Humbert expresses that the murder he devoted was an work of love and he rationalizes not only his assault but his pedophilia. But the confession seems free-flowing and a spur of the moment decision on the part of the narrator, how does Nabokov point out that Humbert Humbert can be an unreliable narrator by using literary devices and linguistic habits in Lolita? Despite Humbert Humbert's horrid crimes, his words and wordplay make for a more pleasurable reading experience than one would expect. Through the use of characterization, diction, and assessment and distinction, Nabokov suggests that Humbert is unreliable and knowingly creates a tale that paints himself as a victim of circumstances.


As Humbert Humbert is the narrator of the novel, he characterizes the individuals in the storyline. No second thoughts are presented; which means reader is given a one-dimensional interpretation of each character. You will discover signs in the novel that suggest Humbert's descriptions are biased in his favour, including the swift changes in the characters' personalities and the tone in which they may be described.

Humbert's explanations of Charlotte Haze, in particular, change significantly as the storyplot advances. Charlotte, Lolita's mother and Humbert's eventual wife in the novel, is a middle-class American housewife who aspires to be advanced and cultured. Her relationship with her child is strained as she focuses all her attention on accommodating her lodger Humbert Humbert, who confirms her intolerable and wants access to Lolita (Dolores Haze). Through the beginning of the novel and the start of their relationship, Humbert refers to Charlotte simply as "the Haze woman". His disgust and aggravation is evident even at the reference to her presence. When first describing Charlotte to the audience, Humbert state governments: "I think I had fashioned better express her immediately, to get it over with. She was, obviously, one of those woman whose polished words may mirror a book club. . . but never her spirit; women who are completely without humour" (Nabokov 37). His dislike for Charlotte is made clear as soon as she is unveiled to the reader; however Humbert carries on to indicate her vulgarity and lack of sophistication. One nights, while secretly fondling Lolita on leading porch, Humbert creates: "[Lo] fidgeted a good deal so that finally her mother told her sharply to quit it and delivered [her] doll traveling in to the dark" (Nabokov 46). Charlotte's behavior seems over-the-top and disdainful. However, it is interesting that whenever Humbert has any unacceptable contact with Lolita, he practices quickly by writing of Charlotte's contempt towards her girl. After his connection with Lolita on leading porch, he quite sarcastically writes the following excerpt

"[Lolita] had been spiteful, if you please, at age one, when she used to throw her toys and games out of her crib, so that her poor mom should keep picking them up, the villainous newborn. Now, at twelve, she was a regular pest, said Haze. Her levels were poor. Obviously, moodiness is a common concomitant of growing up, but Lolita exagerrate[d]. Sullen and evasive. Rude and defiant" (Nabokov 46).

Although expressing Charlotte's frustration with her daughter, the conversation is not a direct price from Charlotte indicating that Humbert is paraphrasing what she's advised him. This harsh-toned speech appears to be a convenient ploy on the part of the narrator to distract from the actual fact that he needed advantage of a girl's trust for his own physical gratification. In fact, throughout the novel, Humbert's maltreatment of Lolita is followed by negative dialogues from the other character types. Nabokov seems to suggest that Humbert's confession is well thought-out and biased in his favour. It appears the narrator wants to justify his activities. After Lolita tags along to a shopping trip with him and Charlotte, Humbert rates her mom as stating: "It is intolerable that a child should be so ill-mannered. . . when she is aware she is unwanted" (Nabokov 51). While to operate a vehicle, Humbert takes benefit of Lolita's closeness to "hold, heart stroke, and squeeze [her] little paw completely to the store" (Nabokov 51). Humbert uses Charlotte's contempt towards Lolita to justify his "affection" towards her. Although this physical contact is outwardly innocent, Humbert's motives are clearly pedophilic. It is by characterizing Charlotte as unmotherly and unkind that Humbert will try to gain the reader's sympathy. He portrays himself as a father figure providing a mistreated young lady with love.

Before her death in the book, Charlotte is portrayed as a brutal, unloving mom. However, after she actually is accidently killed, Humbert is free to "parent" Lolita. After he collects Lolita from the summertime camp she was pressured to attend, one notices the change in the shade he uses to handle Charlotte. Lolita, since going back from camp, has remained troublesome and moody. After Humbert has consummated his "relationship" with the young female, they indulge on a long street trip including many pit puts a stop to and shopping travels. The teenage female is not especially enjoying their voyage and is also understandably vulgar and annoyed. Humbert is quoted many times as declaring: "Charlotte, I start to understand you!" (Nabokov 149). Humbert narrates and characterizes other individuals in a way that will arouse sympathy for himself. Recently, when Humbert would take part in inappropriate contact with Lolita, he would deliberately explain her mother's unaffectionate aspect to justify his coming in contact with her child. Now that Charlotte, the obstacle, has been get over and Humbert regularly molests and abuses her little girl, he highlights Lolita's insufferable features. He now understands Charlotte and points out that she had not been as negative a person as she looked. Humbert does this in order to paint himself as a worn out father putting up with his difficult daughter's every whim.

Humbert's explanations of Lolita also change, taking away the character's likeability as the storyline progresses. At the beginning of the novel, Lolita is referred to as carefully resembling Annabel, Humbert's youth love. Humbert points out that he's instantly captivated by her beauty: "AS I passed her in my own adult disguise, the vacuum of my heart were able to suck in every information of her shiny beauty" (Nabokov 39). Although Lolita is a mediocre American child, vulgar and even less polished than her mother, Humbert appears to view the lady through rose-coloured glasses. To him, she is not vulgar, but charming, not intense, but misunderstood by her wretched mother. Although Humbert will not appreciate Lolita's idolization of American pop culture, little or nothing much else is said with regards to her intellect. Interesting to note is Lolita's little dialogue in this area of the novel. She does not say much, aside from her frequent quarrels with Charlotte. In these quarrels, Lolita is not portrayed as a delicate child, but instead a strong-willed, hostile girl. "I believe you stink" and "this is a free of charge country" are some of the arguments made to her mother during their verbal fights (Nabokov 46). During a definite fight, Humbert writes: "Later, I observed a great banging side and other sounds coming from quaking caverns where the two competitors were developing a ripping row" (Nabokov 48). Writing this, Humbert suggests that Lolita can keep her own against her mom. She actually is not the sort to be trampled over or obligated to do anything. By including dialogues and information such as these, Humbert suggests that Lolita is a strong child who gets what she would like.

In addition to talking about her bad-temper, the physical contact between Humbert and Lolita is usually reported to be instigated by the girl. Humbert narrates: "Presently a vintage gray tennis games ball bounced over [Charlotte], and Lo's voice originated from the home haughtily: 'Pardonnez, Mom. I was not aiming at you. ' Obviously not, my hot downy darling" (Nabokov 55). What things to the average person would appear like a playful act derived from boredom, Humbert attempts to illustrate as an act of seduction. Humbert portrays Lolita as a happy participant in his game titles, as shown in the following excerpt: "Humbert Humbert intercepted [her] apple. In a sham effort to get it, [Lo] was all over me. Every motion she made, every shuffle and ripple, helped me to conceal and improve the magic formula system of tactile correspondence between beast and beauty-between my gagged, bursting beast and the beauty of her dimpled body in its innocent cotton frock" (Nabokov 58-59). Although Humbert sits there almost inert in this encounter, and even though Lolita comes to him, he instigates the problem by "innocently" taking her berries from her.

After her stay at a summer season camp, Lolita's sexuality has changed significantly as the audience learns she's experienced her first erotic encounter. Within this area of the novel, through immediate estimates, Lolita is characterized in a different way. She is very teasing of Humbert: "I did so not [miss you]. Simple fact I am revoltingly unfaithful to you, but it does not matter one little, because you've ended looking after me anyway. . . you haven't kissed me yet, have you?" (Nabokov 112). Humbert then narrates: "Lolita positively flowed into my hands" (Nabokov 113). This is the first serious come across the two individuals have: a kiss Humbert narrates as having been Lolita's idea. Although Humbert represents the assurance with which Lolita engages in this behavior, he also uncovers that it was but an innocent game on her behalf part, an imitation of fraudulent romance.

Having already lost her virginity to a young man at camp, Lolita initiates sexual intercourse with Humbert during their stay at a hotel. However, greater than a romantic partner, Nabokov illustrates Lolita as a girl in search of affection of any sort. Charlotte, not fitted the maternal archetype whatsoever, was jealous of the partnership between Humbert and Lolita. Having not yet learned that her mom is inactive, and thinking Humbert and Charlotte are still married, Lolita's contact and chat with Humbert resembles a bitter function of rebellion against her mom who compelled her to wait camp (an experience she identifies as "dirty" and "naughty" despite her cool demeanor). Having sex with Humbert feels like more of a casino game to Lolita as she will not understand the severe nature of her actions. However, it is a way of betraying her mother, equally Charlotte betrayed her by sending her to camp. When Humbert uncovers in a most insensitive way that Charlotte is inactive, Lolita is actually heartbroken. Humbert writes: "With the hotel, we'd separate rooms, however in the center of the night time she came up sobbing into mine, and we managed to get up very delicately" (Nabokov 142). The quotation shows that the two involved in sexual relations once again, and even though Humbert does not identify why Lolita was crying, it was most definitely due to the fatality of her mom rather than the mild discussion she got with him. The statement illustrates a girl with no one to turn to aside from the adult who victimizes her. Having lost her mom, her only left over parent, Lolita turns to Humbert-her complex daddy. He uses her need for affection to get control of the situation for his own physical gratification.

Despite repeated dialogues and information where Lolita is shown to be unhappy and vulnerable, Humbert gives his own biased interpretations of Lolita's behaviour. She actually is characterized as a manipulative, able woman. If she is not bought certain things, if she actually is not allowed to go to certain places, Lolita withholds love-making from Humbert. That is an unfavourable depiction of the young woman as her is the only electric power she possesses. She's no money, and without Humbert, she cannot endure. To be able to put herself in a position of vitality and achieve some kind of reward for her suffering, Lolita uses her sexuality-something Humbert describes as cruel, manipulative promiscuity. Getting rid of Clare Quilty, the person with whom Lolita works away, Humbert represents as an act of love for having forced Lolita into poverty. His possessiveness in this area of the novel implies that he is defending his honour somewhat than hers. Humbert writes his confession in order to influence the reader that though he is guilty, he was handled by a force higher than himself. Through his energetic characterization of the other individuals, Humbert inadvertently reveals he is only interested in informing the storyplot from a point of view that will allow the reader to sympathize with him.


In addition to persona development in Lolita, diction is also suggestive of Humbert's unreliable narration. Throughout the novel, the reader is entranced by Humbert's pretty prose style. It is the language used that makes the grotesque styles in the book bearable. However, many repeating words and linguistic patterns utilized by Humbert betray the persona he needs to set-up.

Although Humbert wants his confession to seem impartial and unplanned, the first paragraphs of the novel indicate that his confession is aimed to a particular audience-"[the] females and gentlemen of the jury" (Nabokov 9). He, himself, titles his work "Lolita", as it is actually the storyplot of the young young lady. However, the foreword compiled by the fictional Dr. John Ray titles it "The Confession of any White Widowed Guy". It is interesting that it's always through the most grotesque views in the novel that Humbert straight acknowledges the presence of the audience. When pondering whether or not to kill Charlotte, Humbert immediately engages the reader(s): "And, individuals, I just couldn't! In silence I changed shoreward. . . but still I possibly could not make myself drown the poor, slippery, big-bodied creature" (Nabokov 87). At times during the "confession", Humbert's writing becomes almost self-reflective-it seems he gets lost in his previous experiences. Nonetheless, in the moments where his morals enter into question and where his behaviour becomes unlawful, he speaks directly to the reader. Humbert almost acts as his own law firm, and within an eloquent persuasive shade, tries to sway the audience in his favour.

Humbert also uses wordplay to foreshadow Clare Quilty's participation and significance to the storyline. In the beginning of the book, Humbert reads an assessment. Clare Quilty's name looks, alongside others, and takes on are listed like the Little Nymph and Fatherly Love. Humbert says that Lolita would have appeared in a play called The Murdered Playwright, alluding to playwright Clare Quilty's murder. Quilty's presence is always felt in Lolita even before his persona is launched. This leads the audience to assume that Humbert's narrative is not free-flowing, but instead serves a direct purpose: to gain sympathy from the reader for the murder he determined.

In addition to the change in audience, the connotation and firmness of what used change depending on the situation. Besides Humbert's descriptions of nymphets, almost every other character and experience in his confession is referred to with cynicism and discomfort. Nymphets are presented as fantastical beings: "'9' and 'fourteen' [are] the boundaries-the mirrory beaches and rosy rocks-of an enchanted island haunted by those nymphets. . . and bounded by a massive, misty sea" (Nabokov 16). This description seems out-of-character for Humbert, who often reveals himself to be (within reason) rational. Humbert also states that not all girls in this age range are nymphets. It really is "the just a bit feline outline of any cheekbone, the slenderness of an downy limb [which identify] the little fatal demon of. . . fantastic power" (Nabokov 17). Humbert selects to coin the term "nymphet" rather than using the accepted term of "underage girl". By stating that he is not attracted to all girls, Humbert tries to separate himself from "regular" pedophiles. The wonderful tone that surrounds these explanations makes it seem as though Humbert is not in self-control and submits to the capabilities of these mystical demons who drive him to abnormality. It really is interesting to notice that Humbert is very methodical and specialized in other areas of the book using jargon such as "pederosis" and "pseudolibidoes". The two different methods of speaking represent Humbert's ability to change corresponding to scenario.

While seeking to make clear his helplessness in the existence of Lolita (and other nymphets), Humbert betrays himself through his phrase choice. Although eloquent, his possessiveness jumps off of the page. Whenever talking about Lolita, relatively arbitrary descriptions include possessive pronouns. That is confirmed numerous times in the novel: "How smugly would I marvel that she was mine, mine, mine" (Nabokov 161). Constantly referring to the lady as "my child", "my Lo", "my pet", Nabokov italicizes the pronouns to put emphasis on Humbert's possessiveness. Furthermore, it is interesting to check out the sentence structure. Whenever events take place involving other people, Humbert ensures to unite Lolita and himself: "Last night, we sat on the piazza, the Haze female, Lolita and I". Even when writing, Humbert must stay near to Lolita, using punctuation to split up Charlotte from the two of them.

Humbert will try to label Lolita as the seducer and instigator of the physical relationship: "She played with and kept sticking to my lap" (Nabokov 45). Explanations of such scenes are never explicit, however when movements are explained, they are always those of Lolita. Humbert leads the reader to trust he is merely a pawn in Lolita's game. In another portion of the story, he writes that "[Lolita] struck Humbert, quite painfully" (Nabokov 65). This is yet another example of Humbert purposefully showcasing Lolita's strength and willpower. Remarkably, he refers to himself in the 3rd person-something he does often when he bribes/seduces Lolita. It is inevitable for Humbert to implicate himself in the novel, however when he narrates the more disturbing things he does indeed, he never personalizes it, using "Humbert" rather than "I" or "me". By doing so, Humbert defeats the goal of a confession, not necessarily acknowledging it was him who performed anything incorrect.

Although Lolita is shown to sometimes be an hasty child, what used to spell it out her when she's around Humbert always color her as strong and aggressive. She actually is said to make Humbert nervous. When Lolita reproaches him for his insufficient kissing skill, Humbert explains to her to "show [him] wight ray" (Nabokov 120). It appears out-of-character for the eloquent Humbert to be so inarticulate. However, through the use of diction and punctuation, Nabokov suggests that Humbert does not directly quote individuals in the novel. In one part of the novel, Humbert writes: "'Look, we have to go, ' said Lolita--or something along that lines" (Nabokov 76). Despite the fact that Lolita is evidently quoted, Humbert can't be sure. This allows the reader to build distrust in Humbert, as he evidently changes dialogue. Lots of the letters and conversations Humbert includes in the confession, he admits are paraphrased. Therefore, it is very difficult to completely trust Humbert's account as some of his bias has inevitably seeped through.

Also interesting will be the nicknames given by Humbert to other personas. Charlotte is also known as "the Haze female", "freezing big Haze" and "Sweetheart Hum". Humbert shows his own mercurial characteristics by changing the connotation of the nicknames depending on his mood. The fact that his thoughts of other character types change so rapidly and so often show that Humbert is with them to raised his image in the eye of the audience.

There are situations where Humbert seems disgusted with himself, describing his appeal to nymphets as "a monstrous love"(Nabokov 83). Soon after he reproaches himself, Humbert continues on to support pedophilia: "We are not sex fiends! Were unhappy, minor, dog-eyed gentlemen sufficiently well-integrated to regulate our urge in the presence of men and women, but prepared to give years. . . of life for just one chance to touch a nymphet. Emphatically, no killers are we" (Nabokov 88). Humbert never apologizes for his behavior, admitting it is only society that makes him feel deviant.

Contrast & Assessment:

Nabokov uses contrast and comparison in Lolita to indicate Humbert Humbert's biased narration. Humbert often defends his pedophilia-reprimanding society's hypocrisy. He compares his romantic relationship with Lolita to numerous historical couples: American leader Abraham Lincoln and his more radiant partner, Italian scholar Petrarch and 12 year-old Laureen, and poet Dante Alighieri and his 9 year-old associate. Humbert mentions these connections as though to validate his marriage with Lolita. These men, whose women were often their muse, served great purpose to population. Humbert questions the confines regulations puts on his people (pedophiles), as these men of great status improved the earth while showing his love of nymphets. It's important to note Humbert will not dwell on the age of these men or the period of time they lived in (more than 100 years ago).

In addition to the, Humbert makes a primary comparability between Annabel, his child years love, and Lolita. Dolores Haze takes on multiple names: Lo, Lola, Dolly, Hot Little Haze, and Lolita. Humbert expresses that: "in [his] forearms, she was always Lolita" (Nabokov 9). Later on in the book, one discovers that "Lolita" is derived from incorporating Annabel's name with the name "Dolores". "Annabel Lee" and "Dolores" produce "Lo-lee-ta". Although Humbert ridicules psychiatrists, he drops many observable clues (including this wordplay) that suggest that Annabel's early fatality 's the reason for his attraction to underage young girls. A love extracted from him throughout a fragile age resulting in sickness-this image, he desires, will arouse the reader's sympathy. In the novel, Humbert's love displays with Annabel are somewhat explicit; they use many metaphors and symbols: "I got ready to offer her everything, my heart and soul, my neck, my entrails, I provided her to hold in her uncomfortable fist the scepter of my love" (Nabokov 15). As he and Annabel are of the same age, Humbert can be more immediate with the reader in these displays. Conversely, Lolita's erotic views with Humbert are quick, nor explain any physical conversation. One assumes that Humbert does indeed this to avoid arousing disgust in the reader. This means that that Humbert formulates his account in a manner that keeps the reader on his part.

Throughout Lolita, comparisons are made between older women and women Humbert deems to be nymphets. More mature women, no matter their role in Humbert's life, are always unattractive, cruel and unintelligent. Valeria, Humbert's first partner, is referred to as excess fat, dumb and completely inept. Charlotte Haze is also fats, disgusting and bothersome. Young girls are always painted as desirable. The most amazing language can be used to convince the reader of the power of these nymphets. They can be "seductive", "physically-tone", and "delicate" (Nabokov 17). Humbert will try to illustrate older women as revolting, so the reader can empathize with his lifestyle. Younger young boys, however, should never be detailed in the same light as girls. They are soiled, repulsive, and dangerous. Any son Lolita talks to, any waiter who makes contact with her is defined negatively. Humbert portrays himself as Lolita's protector, unwilling to let her be tarnished by these lowly creatures.

This is how he views Clare Quilty. He is the man who kidnaps his "daughter" and then abandons her. Before Humbert discovers that Quilty is the person Lolita works away with, Humbert places out on a objective "to trace the fugitiveto destroy [his] sibling" (Nabokov 247). In the ultimate displays where Humbert and Quilty are struggling with, Humbert narrates: "I rolled over him. We rolled over me. They rolled over him. We rolled over us" (Nabokov 299). This is the only time in the book when Humbert (indirectly) acknowledges his errors. Discussing Quilty as "his brother", Humbert illustrates that they are one in the same. They both helped in destroying a young girl. This is actually the only second of remorse shown in the novel, as Humbert quickly reverts back again to condemning Quilty.


Although visitors often expect the narrator of any novel to be completely truthful, it is important to question the trustworthiness of the narrator. In Lolita, Nabokov signifies that narrator Humbert Humbert has his own personal agenda and instructs the story in an exceedingly biased way through the use of characterization, diction, and evaluation and contrast. Why then is this book so compelling to read? How come the reader insist upon being lectured by the corrupt Humbert and nourishing into his lies? Although narrator is biased in his assertions, Nabokov makes sure to add several hints to help the audience discover Humbert's deception. Lolita is not simply escape literature, as it requires the audience to actively think about the story being advised. By placing trust in the audience and stimulating their cleverness, Nabokov has generated one of the literary masterpieces of all time.

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