Pedophilia in Lolita
In developing this point, I will examine pedophilia and its clinical characteristics as they relate to Humbert Humbert and our society. Pedophilia is considered an abnormal or unnatural attraction. It is defined as the fantasy or act of sexual activity with prepubescent children. Pedophilia is also a psychosexual disorder in which the fantasy or actual act of engaging in sexual activity with children is the preferred or exclusive means of achieving sexual excitement or gratification. Pedophiles may be young or old, male or female, although the great majority are males.
Pedophilia is defined by mental health professional as a mental disorder, but the American legal system defines acting on a pedophilic urge as a criminal act. Many courts interpret this reference to age to mean children under the age of 18. Most mental health professionals, however, confine the definition of pedophilia to sexual activity with children who are age 13 or younger. The sexual behaviors involved in pedophilia may or may not Delatorre 2 involve the use of force. Types of activities include just looking at a child or undressing and touching a child.
Pedophilia in Lolita Essay Example
Some limit their behaviors to exposing themselves or masturbating in front of a child. Others, however, compel the child to participate in oral sex or full intercourse. Throughout Lolita, Humbert’s constant sexual perception of children is shown overtly. Humbert has a vulnerability towards children that affect his entire life prior to meeting his victim Lolita. His pedophiliac actions are associated back to an experience he once had in a garden with a girl named Annabel that left him feeling un-fulfilled.
His “nymphets” or sexually young girls seem to take on the qualities of this young love. His entire life is constructed around desires for nymphets. Humbert, in his description of Lolita, uses the word “nymphet” to refer not only to her but also to other girls of her age and characteristics. Little girls that came his way before Lolita, he describes as nymphets too. The history of the word “nymphet” in English does not go beyond 1955 when the novel Lolita was published because its first use is in the novel. It was introduced into English by Mr. Humbert Humbert himself.
According to Humbert, a nymphet possesses magic that best works on men “twice or many times older than themselves. ” He does not understand this magic. He writes, “A greater endeavor lures me on: to fix once for all the perilous magic of nymphets.. ” (Nabokov 126) In fact, he himself sees the destructiveness and vengefulness of the nymphet through his use of the word “perilous” meaning full of danger or risk. Humbert’s image of a nymphet is enhanced by the thoughts and memories of Annabel that he harbors. He sees Lolita as a reincarnation of Annabel. Now I wish to introduce the following Delatorre 3 idea. Between the age limits of nine and fourteen there occur maidens who, to certain bewitched travelers, twice or many times older than they, reveal their true nature which is not human, but nymphic (that is, demoniac); and these chosen creatures I propose to designate as nymphets. ” (Nabokov 16) Humbert does not think of nymphets as young girls, but rather as a manifestation of his particular unconventional ideals. A pedophile mistakenly believes their victims enjoy the sexual experience.
When caught, pedophiles frequently accuse their victims of acting promiscuously and even of being lured into committing their acts. Pedophiles seduce their victims by giving them gifts and filling them with affection and attention. They typically know how vulnerable their victims are and take complete advantage by manipulating them. A pedophile will not stop on his own, and will not turn himself in, because he does not take responsibility for his behavior and denies that he’s doing anything harmful. He will abuse until he’s caught.
In Chapter 31 of Part 1 of Lolita, Humbert and Lolita are in the lobby of the Enchanted Hunters only hours after consummating their sexual relationship. As Humbert arrives in the lobby to check out of the hotel, he observes Lolita as she sits reading a movie magazine in a large armchair, and his description of her progresses from a focus on her loss of innocence to a focus on her inner, demonic nature. Humbert is attempting to mitigate his own sense of guilt and self-loathing to justify his actions by presenting the truth as it seemed in his own twisted mind.
However, he knew the “relationship: was unacceptable or he would not have gone to such extremes to hide it throughout the novel. Yet, he attempts to present his point of view in a manner Delatorre 4 that he believes may create sympathy. By identifying Lolita as a nymphet, Humbert Humbert defends his actions. He states, “Frigid gentleman of the jury! … I am going to tell you something very strange: it was she who seduced me” (Nabokov 132).
He claims that Lolita made the first move because she is a nymphet. Although some may argue that Humbert Humbert truly loved Lolita, he shows many characteristics of extreme narcissism. Humbert exploits Lolita, takes advantage of her innocence, and manipulates her. His lust for her overrides any emotion he feels in her resistance towards him. Humbert is aware of her suffering, and for a moment he feels sadness for her, but his list quickly possesses him into his own self-regard for pleasure.
Lolita tells Humbert she is sore and in pain from the night he took advantage of her, but he is only focused on the thoughts of his own self-fulfillment acts that ultimately leads to causing her more pain. “When I try to analyze my own cravings, motives, actions and so forth, I surrender to a sort of retrospective imagination which feeds the analytic faculty with boundless alternatives and which causes each visualized route to fork and re-fork without end in the maddeningly complex prospect of my past. ” (Nabokov Part One, Ch. ) By this quote, It is clear that Humbert will go to great extremes to satisfy his needs. Since every individual is different, there are many reasons why a person may become a pedophile. Most researches say that Pedophilia is probably a result of psychological factors. There are theories that Pedophilia is the result of being sexually abused as a child. If a pedophilic person was sexually abused as a child they may be more likely to sexually abuse children. Another possible cause of Pedophilia is arrested emotional development, which means that a person will
Delatorre 5 find an attraction towards children because they never fully matured psychologically themselves. One other possible cause is the need to dominate a sexual partner. Since children are smaller and weaker than adults they are more easily dominated. This drive for domination could also be the reason there are more male pedophiles than there are women pedophiles. Despite his many efforts at defense, Humbert knows he has committed some serious violations referring to himself as a monster, a spider, a maniac, and a hound.
Humbert certainly references the ethical dilemma he is in, but it is never so great as to prevent him from perpetrating on Lolita. Pedophilia is difficult to treat and dropouts and noncompliance to treatment are common, according to Cohen and Galynker in their 2002 article for Journal of Psychiatric Practice. Treatment involves individual therapy, group therapy and, among males, the use of androgen-suppressing hormones. In extreme cases, male pedophiles may opt for castration.