Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis
Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.
Plot Type : Tragedy
Humbert loses Annabel Leigh, his childhood love, to overly protective parents. He must make up for the loss.
As a young boy, Humbert falls in love with his first nymphet. When she is taken away from him before they can consummate their love, he feels a permanent emptiness. In Lolita, he finds Annabel's reincarnation and the possibility of fulfilling his childhood lust.
Humbert cannot let anything stop him from getting at Lolita.
In order to be near Lolita, Humbert must endure the bourgeois uncultured companionship of Charlotte Haze, who, as it turns out is in love with him. He is full of daydreams of how to rid himself of her and even comes close to murdering her at Hourglass Lake. He ends up marrying her just to stay near Lolita and believes that he will have to gratify himself by drugging both of the women into a stupor. Fate intervenes and he gets his wish (as well as getting off scot-free) when a car kills her, thus clearing his path to Lolita.
Though Lolita is in Humbert's clutches, things start to go wrong. She's getting some serious attitude and is possibly cheating on him. On top of that it seems like someone (a detective, perhaps?) is shadowing them on their travels.
Humbert starts to get very possessive and paranoid. Though their relationship had its troubles (like Lolita hates him and cries every night), she was still complying with his desires. Now, on their second road trip, someone in an Aztec Red Convertible is following them and Lolita is possibly in on it.
Lolita vanishes from a hospital in Elphinstone.
Humbert loses Lolita and begins a frantic search for her. He traces back through every motel they stayed at only to find that her abductor was following them all along. Humbert is teased and tormented by the abductor's inscriptions in the motel registries.
Destruction or Death Wish Stage
Humbert is bent on revenge.
After wandering around for a few years in search of Lolita, Humbert finally receives a letter that provides clues as to her whereabouts. Almost as important as locating her is determining who abducted her. When he finds out that it is Clare Quilty, he tracks the playwright down at his family manor and shoots him like a dog. Without Lolita, Humbert has nothing, so after he shoots Quilty he drives down the wrong side of the street and just waits to be arrested.