How is Humbert able to use women as a means of control in Lolita?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The original question needed to be edited down.  I would suggest that Humbert's own characterization as an artist is one way in which he is able to use women as a means of control.  Humbert sees himself as an artist.  His entire purpose in developing the narrative about his affections for Lolita is to see himself as an artist.  His desire to convince the "ladies and gentlemen of the jury" that the need to control the women in his life, specifically Dolores Haze, was done so as an artist needs to control the vision of perfection they wish to create:

We are not sex fiends. We are unhappy, mild, dog-eyed gentlemen, sufficiently well integrated to control our urge in the presence of adults, but ready to give years and years of life for one chance to touch a nymphet. Emphatically, no killers are we. Poets never kill.

In being able to cast himself as an artist, Humbert is able to assert full control over his "art."  Art and control are seen as intrinsic to one another.  Humbert's passion has been cast as an artist, helping to increase his control over the women in his life.  The women he controls are merely part of his canvas, no different than the words or paintbrushes required to render a vision of beauty.  Humbert is able to use the image of the artist to control women.  Everything else is secondary to Humbert, as the vision of a totalizing artist is one of control and dominance:

Unless it can be proven to me ... that in the infinite run it does not matter a jot that a north American girl-child named Dolores Haze had been deprived of her childhood by a maniac, unless this can be proven (and if it can, then life is a joke), I see nothing for the treatment of my misery but the melancholy and very local palliative of articulate art.

Art becomes the means by which Humbert is able to control the women in his life.  Charlotte Haze is merely a prop in this construction.  Dolores' experience "does not matter a jot."  It is here in which art is used as a means of control.  Art is the sensibility that enables control over women.  For Humbert as the artist, there is only his "vision," a construction that guarantees control over another and ensures his own totalizing control over women.

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