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

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.