The is in the pursuit of a passionate love

The theoretical lens that I have chosen to analyze my novel and film through, is Feminist Criticism. Now, there is no single definition of what Feminism is, as “Feminism knows neither ‘founding mothers’ nor a distinctive methodology” (Makaryk 39). However, the overall purpose of the Feminist theory is the aim to understand and analyze the inherent problems of gender inequality. It analyses both ends of women and men social roles, with ideas such as objectification, oppression, and the overall male dominance in a society. A Feminist critic would look closely towards patriarchal societies to understand what is there and what is not there, as traditionally, women have been marginalized in various senses. Today, with the use of my chosen theory I will be answering various questions of Feminist theory, such as, how females are portrayed in a text and in the media as well as what does the work reveal about the operations of patriarchy.The novel Lolita was written by Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov. He writes about the character Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged man, who narrates the novel from his prison cell, approximately five years after the events he describes within the text. Throughout the text, Humbert narrates his account of his affair with Lolita Haze; and the reader notes that he has an obsessive attraction towards young girls, referring to them as nymphets. He is in the pursuit of a passionate love he once had, when young with a girl who loved him in the same way. Essentially, the novel revolves around his pedophilic infatuation with this young girl who he nicknames as Lolita, but whose real name is Dolores; from the beginning of his attraction, becoming her stepfather, and whisking her away on road trips all across the USA, all the while her being 12-14 years old.American Beauty is 2000 film directed by Sam Mendes, which follows the life of 42-year-old Lester Burnham, an employed suburban husband, and father. Being fed up with his boring life, he quits his job and recreates his persona close to the stereotypical teenager. With a fancy car, a fast food job, and even being attracted to and wanting the attention of his daughter’s teenage friend Angela, who he believes is the definition of beauty. An important concept of Feminism is that of patriarchy and a patriarchal society. Foremost, patriarchy is a key concept of the radical second-wave feminism, which relates to that of a system within society or a government, where the male is head of the family or group. Meaning, that men are commonly and traditionally seen as the dominant gender, and where men oppress and exploit women. Patriarchalism brings forth various questions about women; as due to the main ideas of the concept, many women possess the notion that they need to serve and obey men. – In the novel, Lolita is an example of a patriarchal young women, when Lolita’s mother has passed away, Humbert becomes the only person that she can rely on, due to him being the male in the household, and she allows herself to be taken away on their various road trips and overall be under his control. As Humbert expresses, “in the middle of the night she came sobbing…You see, she had absolutely nowhere else to go” (Nabokov 142). This depiction is one of inherent dominance, as Lolita goes to him because he now represents the head of the family and he is a male. She is young and vulnerable which allows him to become this dominant figure. – In another instance, Humbert expresses that “I might fondly demand an additional kiss or even a whole collection of assorted caresses, when I knew she coveted very badly some item of juvenile amusement” (Nabokov 184). Due to Lolita’s age and innocence of not knowing better, she is easily accessible to Humbert’s ways or techniques of control, which is the use of bribing her with items of whatever she pleases. He uses this to his advantage and therefore, Humbert is the dominant figure who uses this method of control as a way to alienate Lolita from others. A key feminist writer who expresses this concept widely is Kate Millett,  whos study of the literary reflection of women is based on patriarchal ideas, and according to her novel Sexual Politics, remarks it “as an institution perpetuated by…techniques of control” (Wilson 1494), and in this case one sees this same context of “control” within Lolita and this patriarchal “society”, being herself and Humbert, projecting the overall male dominance. 2. Female Objectification- Another key concept in Feminism is the female objectification. Objectification can be explained as the belief and treatment of a person, usually a woman, as an object. This term is applicable to the text through the way Humbert believes he holds an “ownership” of females; this includes, Lolita and his lover from his childhood, Annabelle. When Humbert first encounters Lolita, he is immediately entranced by her appearance, and while admiring her features he compares them to those of the late Annabelle, to which he says, “and these I checked against the features of my dead bride” (Nabokov 39). Humbert refers to Annabelle as his “dead bride” which is a recurring incident throughout the novel. In Humbert’s mind, Annabelle remains his, even after her death, even though the two of them were children and not married when they had their summertime love. Annabelle remains as his “dead bride” or in other words, his “dead property”, an object that remains his for eternity. – This idea of females being viewed as objects is also evident in another incident in the novel, as demonstrated when Humbert refers to Lolita, as stated “she was mine, she was mine, the key was in my pocket, my fist was in my pocket, she was mine” (Nabokov 125). The word “mine” is one that is constantly used whenever Humbert mentions her, she is his Lolita, he uses the word mine to refer to Lolita as his love, but also as his property and someone that he is not willing to let go of.? Chauvinism: Branching off from the topic of objectification, the term of chauvinism is one that also needs to be considered. This is thought to be the opposite of feminism, in which, a male chauvinist is a male who patronizes females in the belief that they are inferior to males. Therefore, it is in a sense, loyalty and support towards one’s own group or gender and using this inferiority of women to benefit themselves.This correlates to feminist as it depicts how powerless the female characters, or “objects”, truly are, which in turn allows Humbert to use this to his own advantage. From this, it can be interpreted that Humbert is a chauvinist character. Considering the various ways he manipulates female characters to further benefit himself. This occurs when Humbert first starts his plan to manipulate Lolita’s mother, Charlotte, into thinking he loves her, in which “the idea of marrying a mature widow (say, Charlotte Haze) … merely in order to have my way with her child …. I saw myself administering a powerful sleeping potion to both mother and daughter so as to fondle the latter through the night with perfect impunity” (Nabokov 70-71). In order to stay close with Lolita at all times, and further pursue his passionate love for her, he has no objection in manipulating others, as seen here, a women, into reaching his end goal. In this case, it is Lolita herself.

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