Throughout different time periods, a constant recurring concept which expresses the feminist applications are that of the oppression of females by male counterparts. This concept is expressed through the text in various manners. First off, the prey and predator relationship is one which is where the female is vulnerable and essentially oppressed by a male dominance. This is an extension of the ownership mentality of the predator, in which the predator views the prey as easily overtaken and easy to grasp. In regards to the text, Lolita is the vulnerable prey of Humbert, which Humbert constantly refers to.
For example, when Humbert sees Lolita after she has returned from a summer camp, he remarks that” I overtook my prey … and she was my Lolita again – in fact, more of my Lolita than ever” (Nabokov 111).
To Humbert, Lolita is his prey and he is the predator; due to her young childish self, she correlates to the perfect prey. This is again portrayed when Humbert and Lolita spend the night in their first motel of many on the duration of their USA road trip, in which “the enchanted prey was about to meet halfway the enchanted hunter” (Nabokov 131). When he has given her sleeping pills and is waiting for her to fall asleep so he can fondle her for the first time while she sleeps, without any objections from her.
It can be viewed as Lolita being oppressed by Humbert in this scenario as she is unable to voice her thoughts on the matter, instead she is led into a false security of this “fatherly” figure, and taken advantage of. – Oppression can occur in many other ways such as sexual repression. Women have generally been shamed for expressing themselves sexually, however, when men do they are praised and looked at in a positive light. Simone de Beauvoir, a feminist theorist, outlined the ways in which a woman is perceived as the “other” in a patriarchal society, second to a man. “What Beauvoir discovers in her multifaceted investigation into woman’s situation, is that woman “are the incidental, the inessential, as opposed to the essential” (Mussett).
Beauvoir’s notion can be related to Lolita, in which the women character is seen as unimportant, and that opposed to a man, she is not worthy or has the same privileges. Privileges in this case meaning sexual expression.An example of this is as followed, “‘There is another man in my life’. Now, these are ugly words for a husband to hear …
. A mounting fury was suffocating me ..
.. I shouted at last, striking her on the knee with my fist” (Nabokov 27-28). Humbert’s first wife, Valeria, is rudely treated due to this information expressed to her husband; due to the fact that she has not followed the typical female wife role, which being true to her husband. Women who do not follow the domestic norm are looked down upon in society. As “The double standard of sexual morality has condemned certain sexual activities by women while permitting the identical actions for men” (Baumeister and Twenge 166).
Humbert has shamed Valeria for expressing herself sexually with another man because she was unhappy in her marriage, however, his own attraction towards to younger women is never critiqued by himself. Demonstrating this sexist belief or outlook of the men being able to express themselves since this double standard of what a men can do vs. what a women can or can not do is present. 4. Phallogocentrism:Now I would like to mention phallogocentrism in relation. This is a term that was originally coined by Jacques Derrida, a key founder of deconstruction but the ideas behind the concept can also be applied to feminism, to refer to the privilege of the masculine gender. As the concept relates to the expression of male attitudes thereby reinforcing male dominance in or through various language method; as a result, this restricts an overall female voice, thus presenting some form of opposition. This opposition portrays itself through the medium of perspective.
Humbert narrates his account of his affair with Lolita Haze in the first person, focusing only on his own thoughts and emotions; thereby, focusing on the masculine first-person point of view. Due to this, Humbert’s portrayal of himself is very subjective in relation to our essential question of the course, the relativity of truth. In which, ” I insist upon proving that I am not, and never was, and never could have been, a brutal scoundrel” (Nabokov 131). He does not view himself as a scoundrel, but just someone in love; however, from others, such as neighbors or those in their community, or even in today’s society, Humbert would be seen as a pedophilic man who sexualizes a young child and who has embarked into a sexual relationship with a minor.
Due to his first person perspective, the reader is able to understand that Humbert justifies his actions completely, that he is not in the wrong or a “scoundrel” at all.