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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Language and Communication

In Lolita, words are Humbert's greatest weapon and favorite toy. He is verbally adept and constantly assessing others based upon their ability to use language. Because he talks about words so much...

Love

Humbert spends a lot of time talking about love, particularly when describing his feelings for Lolita. Is it even possible that he loves her? The fact that he is our narrator and controls all of th...

Sex

From the outset, Humbert describes Lolita as "fire of my loins" (1.1.1). To be fair, he also calls her "light of my life" (1.1.1). But the question is: which is it? Is it possible for her to be bot...

Youth

Humbert is sexually obsessed with youth in Lolita. He doesn't care that he is aging; in fact he never mentions that. He is obsessed with "nymphets," young girls aged nine to fourteen. He does not h...

Innocence

There is very little true innocence in Lolita and the sad part is that Humbert's attraction to innocence always means that he wants to take advantage of it. The idea of innocence in the novel refer...

Justice and Judgment

It's easy to forget that the entire memoir is supposed to present a realistic and historical account of the relationship between Humbert and Lolita and how it led to the murder of Clare Quilty. Thr...

Morality and Ethics

Despite his many efforts at defense in Lolita, Humbert knows he has committed some serious violations – referring to himself as a monster, a spider, a maniac, and a hound – but it is un...

Visions of America

Clearly Humbert has been obsessed with America from an early age, exposed as he was to idealized images of its grand panoramas and natural wonders. His trips across America in Lolita detail this fa...
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