Published in 1955, “Lolita” deals with the uncommon erotic predilections of the aging scholar Humbert Humbert, the book’s narrator-protagonist (RandomHouse.ca “About this Book”). It is a tragic comedy story of Humbert’s pedophilic obsession with the “nymphet” Dolores Haze whom he would rather call by the name Lolita.
Annabel Leigh is Humbert’s original nymphet obsession. In fact, the divorced scholar ascribes his “nympholoespy” or lifelong passion as having been triggered by his losing his childhood sweetheart Leigh. Charlotte Haze, despite the fact that he married her, was not really Humbert’s idea of a nymphet primarily because of the biological age factor and her mature love marked by possessive passion (Chia-chin Tsai 68). The coined word “nymphets” meant for the pedophile scholar as maidens between 9 and 14 years old who possess sexual allure that bewitches eventually succumbing travelers. Falling in love with him, Charlotte became his unwitting tool to gain access to and seduce her daughter Dolores.
The French prostitute Monique, on the other, was every nymphet to Humbert until she rapidly transformed into a woman (GradeSaver, “Chapter 6”). For his first marriage, he married Valeria because she struck him as a little girl and because he wanted to normalize so as to survive in society (Chia-chin Tsai 67). Humbert’s obsessive attraction to nymphet features found another outlet when he briefly carried what he believed to be a normal relationship with Rita, an alcoholic blessed with girl-like features, specifically a back with prepubescent curves.
Lolita is the ideal nymphet for Humbert primarily because of the subjective connections he makes to his childhood love and persisting fixation Annabel. He was so convinced Lolita and Annabel are somehow connected by fate such that he even regarded the former’s sunglasses as reminders of those in the cave where he and his childhood sweetheart nearly made love (GradeSaver “Chapter 10”). Another reason why Lolita stands as his ideal concept of a nymphet is his insistence that a nymphet ought to be many years younger in order to place an older man under her fantastic spell (GradeSaver “Chapter 5”). The other females Humbert have had relations with were either simply not as ideally young or outgrew the nymphet stage before his eyes. In the case of Lolita, she would stay forever as a nymphet to his mind with her early death and because Humbert lost her to a fellow pedophile before he got to actually witness her physical metamorphoses (into a pregnant woman).
Humbert’s attribution of his “nympholoepsy” to his losing of Annabel with her untimely death seems a lame excuse for his underlying psychological condition. “Nympholoespy” is nothing more than a revolting condition now referred to as pedophilia. While their last day together was indeed marked by an unconsummated lovemaking, a healthy individual in Humbert’s shoes would not be fixated on the sexual allure of an Annabel frozen in time. Humbert’s inability to mature with age in terms of his sexual cravings and to see the person behind the sexuality of Annabel all those years betrays the undeniable sickness of his mind. It is this same mania of sorts that would lead him to murder Quilty, the man who stole his Lolita.