Lolita: Condemnation of Abuse and Victimization

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With the novel wrapped in realism and romance, satire runs from the beginning of the novel to the very end as Nabokov ridicules the high moral value of the Foreword that attributes to the novel which essentially reassures the reader in the Afterword that moral lessons such are just not in existence. Where Lolita is not a condemnation of abuse and victimization or a moral story. Humbert’s dark humorous puns and exaggerations all add into the satiric effect where words are twisted to push their possibilities to the limit and try to keep him entertained in jail, leading to being liked by readers. 

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Kitzinger believes that ‘Men are excited by the idea of defiling the pure and deflowering the virgin’, ‘so focusing on children’s presumed innocence only reinforces men’s desire for them as a sexual object.’ This leads to both the loss of innocence in Lolita and the marginalisation of the women by men; ‘nothing could make my Lolita forget the foul lust I had inflicted upon her. Unless it can be proven to me—to me as I am now, today, with my heart and my beard, and my putrefaction—that in the infinite run it does not matter a jot that a North American girl-child named Dolores Haze had been deprived of her childhood by a maniac. (Humbert). As Kitzinger believes that through gaining Dolores’ purity, she will be Humbert’s, which supports the idea of Humbert calling her Lolita and not by her name.

In parallel, with Fanny Hill, you feel sympathy for her as her innocence glows from the beginning and during every hardship, throughout the novel, there are specific allusions and references to ancient mythologies which can be traced. Fanny sees her lover as; Charles as ‘My Adonis’. Which correlates to the myth of Adonis who is a figure representing youth and beauty, this shows the mere perception of Fanny seeing her love for Charles as a fantasy which supports her being innocent and inexperienced. 

The setting and the drastic change between locations for Fanny shows the innocence being taken away as at her first sight of London, Fanny was indeed fascinated by the beauty of the city; ‘As we passed through the greatest streets that led to our inn…, the hurry, the crowds of foot passengers, in short, the new scenery of the shops and houses, at once pleased and amazed me.” The author’s attention to the city and Fanny’s reaction {is not done as a pure coincidence}, but London is made to be described as a beast which can swallow such an unsophisticated being like Fanny Hill, and shows the loss of innocence between the transition of Liverpool as a conserved girl to London where she learns through new experiences. 

The mistreatment of Fanny which leads to her destruction is also strengthened when Charles her first love leaves her pregnant. Fanny realises she can use her body for sex and not for love, ‘My happiness, however, with him did not last long, but found an end from my own imprudent neglect.’ (Fanny Hill) Cleland shows that sexuality is indeed a part of human nature and what it is biologically natural about it should not be repressed, but rather more accepting, however, sexuality has the right to exist in a civilised and rational way, causing Cleland not to support the two brothels that Fanny ranges to get herself into. 

As in the first brothel Fanny is manipulated by its mistress and is painfully struggling with rape which leads to her innocence being ruined and her being marginalised, which involved a man blinded by animal-like lust, in the second brothel Mrs Cole the Madam showcases a brothel where sex is surrounded by a multitude of ritual-like acts within sex, which degrades her to an object where she gets thrown around like an animal. 

David McCracken writes about Fanny Hill as a bildungsroman, her sexual development contains three life stages: innocence; where she is led to her first brothel where is unaware of her setting, experimentation; where examples of her being with Charles and a mistress to indulge her into sexual acts for pleasure and finally experience; where she is with an older man who tries to keep her happy, and initially these stages are all through losing innocence and the mistreatment of women. Similarly, you see the stages of development through Lolita, which is manipulated for Humbert’s own good, in relation to pleasure, she grows for Humbert and becomes a victim of his sexual acts with her, leading to the loss of innocence.   

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