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One might also argue that the reader is not inclined to accept Nabokov’s monstrous male hero as they are aware of the damage to Lolita’s childhood, and instead feel a sense of shame and disgust towards his narrator as a result of their protective stances concerning the child. Throughout the text, Humbert refers to her through nicknames, such as ‘Lo’, ‘Lola’, ‘Dolly’, clearly showing the theft of her identity, and as a result the reader is never exposed to Lolita’s true character. This is aided by the objectification of the child to an aesthetic object, ‘a salutary storm of sobs’, which dehumanises Lolita and prohibits the narrator from becoming aware of the extent of the damage he has inflicted on her. The use of the sibilant phrase furthers the idea of Lolita as having an elusive nature, as her identity slips away from her as a consequence of her suffering. Additionally, the reader is exceedingly aware of Humbert’s manipulative and terrorising approach to the child, with Nabokov’s use of the controlling line ‘let us suppose they believe you’ taking a condescending tone to make clear to the reader Lolita’s entrapment within her situation. This is enhanced with the repeated rhetorical questions, ‘But what happens to you, my orphan?’ which reveal the manipulating and devious portrayal of the monstrous narrator. References to Lolita’s upset and horror also cause the reader to sympathise with her in place of accepting Humbert, and Nabokov cultivates a sense of hopelessness and desperation with the simple phrases, ‘again I hear you crying’, ‘in the middle of the night she came sobbing’. He uses the setting of darkness to indicate Lolita’s lack of comfort and danger, characterising her as innocent in her manipulation and creating the desire amongst the readers to protect and comfort the lonely child, implying that the Nabokov only intends for Lolita to be accepted. Alternatively, it could be said that Lolita is characterised as manipulative and deceitful, signifying that she is compliant in their sexual relationship. Within Humbert’s narrative, he characterises her as ‘cruel’, ‘crafty’ and ‘calculating’, using the alliterative adjectives to reflect the harsh and brutal nature of Lolita towards her protector. Nabokov also suggests that Lolita does gain some power through taking advantage of the narrator’s desire for her, implying that she is aware of and exploits her sexual appeal, shown through the addressing of Humbert as ‘dad’ throughout the text. Further, her confrontational and argumentative character is evidenced to reflect her strength, ‘I ought to call the police and tell them that you raped me’, however this phrase ultimately has a poignant effect on the reader, making it clear that she is aware of her suffering and hopelessness. As a result, while Nabokov suggests that Lolita attempts to take back some power against her abuser, the reader can fundamentally only sympathise with her pain, supporting the inability to accept the monstrous protagonist. To conclude, it is evident that, though Nabokov does encourage the reader to accept his monstrous male hero, this is only to emphasise the tragic and catastrophic consequences of his text and warn against such manipulative behaviour. While Humbert’s use of elaborate language, addresses to the reader and elusive portrayal do indeed result in his readership accepting and identifying with the horrifically manipulative character, they are unable to ignore the contradiction within his narrative and ultimately sympathise with Lolita. Metcalf concludes that ‘We are clearly m
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