The narrator and protagonist of Lolita
is an erudite European intellectual with an obsessive love for nymphets
and a history of mental illness. He manages to seduce the reader
with his gift for beautiful language, but he is nonetheless capable
of rape and murder. Humbert, despite his knowledge of the world,
becomes self-aware only toward the end of the novel, when he realizes
he has ruined Lolita’s childhood. He writes the story of Lolita
from his prison cell, where he awaits trial for murder. However,
he dies of heart failure soon after Lolita’s death.
in-depth analysis of Humbert Humbert.
Dolores (Lolita) Haze
The novel’s eponymous nymphet. An adolescent, she
is seductive, flirtatious, and capricious, and she initially finds
herself attracted to Humbert, competing with her mother for his
affections. However, when his demands become more pressing, and
as she spends more time with children her own age, she begins to
tire of him. Humbert attempts to educate her, but she remains attached
to American popular culture and unimpressed with his cultured ideas.
Eventually, she runs off with Clare Quilty, but he abandons her
after she refuses to participate in child pornography. She eventually
marries Dick Schiller and dies in childbirth.
shadow and double. Quilty is a successful playwright and child pornographer
who takes a liking to Lolita from an early age. He follows her throughout the
story, ultimately kidnapping her away from Humbert. Though Lolita
is in love with him, he eventually tires of her. Nabokov conceals
Quilty’s importance to the story until nearly the end. Quilty is amoral,
highly literate, and completely corrupt.
in-depth analysis of Clare Quilty.
mother and Humbert’s wife. A middle-class woman who aspires to be
cultured and sophisticated, Charlotte never manages to be much more
than a bourgeois housewife. Her relationship with Lolita is strained
throughout the novel. Charlotte worships Humbert and stays blind
to his pedophilia and lust for her daughter until she discovers
his diary. She dies soon after in a car accident.
in-depth analysis of Charlotte Haze.
childhood love. Annabel and her family visit Humbert’s father’s
hotel as tourists. Despite having many physical encounters, Humbert
and Annabel are unable to consummate their adolescent love. She
later dies of typhus in Corfu. Humbert remains obsessed with her
memory until he meets Lolita.
first wife, whom he married to cure himself of his addiction to
nymphets. Humbert finds Valeria intellectually inferior and often
bullies her. When he plans to move to America, Valeria leaves him
to marry a Russian taxi driver. Valeria and her husband die in California
friend of Charlotte’s and the wife of John Farlow. John and Jean
Farlow are among Charlotte and Humbert’s few friends. After Charlotte’s
death, she secretly kisses Humbert. She eventually dies of cancer.
friend of Charlotte’s, married to Jean. He handles the Haze estate
after Charlotte dies, but he eventually relegates his duties to
a lawyer because of the complicated nature of the case. After Jean
dies, he marries someone else and lives an adventurous life in South
husband. Dick is a simple, good-natured working man who is deaf
in one ear, Dick has no idea about the sexual relationship between
Humbert and Lolita, believing Humbert to simply be Lolita’s father. Dick
receives a job offer in Alaska, where he plans to take Lolita, whom
he calls Dolly.
alcoholic whom Humbert lives with after he loses Lolita. Toward
the end of their affair, Rita has many encounters with the law and
becomes paranoid that Humbert will leave her. Humbert finds her
comforting but regards her as simple-minded.
favorite friend at the Beardsley School for Girls. Mona has already
had an affair with a marine and appears to be flirting with Humbert.
However, she refuses to divulge any of Lolita’s secrets. She helps Lolita
lie to Humbert when Humbert discovers that Lolita has been missing
her piano lessons.
plump, beloved French professor at Beardsley College. Gaston is
popular in the community and helps Humbert find his house and settle
into Beardsley. They often play chess together, but Humbert thinks
him a poor scholar and not very smart. Gaston also has a predilection
for young boys, which no one in Beardsley seems to notice.
headmistress of the Beardsley School for Girls. Humbert is unimpressed
with Pratt’s emphasis on social skills and her resistance to traditional
academic approaches. She calls Humbert to her office to discuss Lolita’s
disciplinary problems and expresses concern that Lolita is not developing
Quilty’s uncle, a dentist. Dreamy and well liked, he thinks of his
nephew with kind indulgence. He has been friends with the Haze family
all his life. Humbert finds Clare Quilty by visiting Ivor at his
French nymphet prostitute. Initially, Humbert is attracted to her
nymphet qualities and begins an affair with her. However, he becomes
disillusioned by her maturation and abruptly ends the affair.
John Ray, Jr., Ph.D.
The author of the foreword and the editor of Humbert’s
Holmes’s son, who also works at the camp. Lolita has her first sexual
experiences with him, but she is unimpressed by his manners. Later
Humbert discovers that he has been killed in Korea.
friend at camp. Barbara has sex with Charlie in the bushes while
Lolita stands guard. Finally, Barbara convinces Lolita to “try it,”
which she does.
Clare Quilty’s female writing partner. Lolita confuses
Humbert by telling him that Vivian is a man and Clare is a woman.
After Quilty’s death, Vivian writes Quilty’s biography. “Vivian
Darkbloom” is an anagram for “Vladimir Nabokov.”
John (Jack) Windmuller
The lawyer to whom John Farlow entrusts the Haze
estate. He handles the estate but wants nothing to do with the sordidness
surrounding the impending trial.
Frederick Beale, Jr.
The driver of the car that kills Charlotte.