Homework Help

In Lolita, what are some ethical issues besides if having sex with a 12 year old is right?

user profile pic

hannahwid | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 30, 2009 at 11:23 AM via web

dislike 3 like

In Lolita, what are some ethical issues besides if having sex with a 12 year old is right?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 2, 2010 at 11:43 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 3 like

Nabokov's work does contain some fairly strong issues of ethical conduct even outside of Humbert's desires.  Quilty's relationship with Lolita, even outside the sexual context, is something that challenges ethical conceptions of teacher and student.  I think that there are some ethical challenges in Humbert's self conception of artist.  When he describes himself as "an artist and a madman" in articulating how he was able to coerce Lollita into the compromising positions he sought, I think that there should be some ethical line towed that suggests artists not enter such a realm.  The manipulation of another human being cannot be considered art, in my mind.  The mere invocation of a self described "artist" in this realm poses ethical challenges for me.  I think that it is a stretch for Humbert to describe him as a "poet" in this regard, as I cannot see this as art.  The exploration of what constitutes cruelty and the forcing open of the reader's moral and ethical imagination is probably what makes Nabokov's work so powerful to behold.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes