Freudian Themes in Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita" Book Review by SVWainwright

Freudian Themes in Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita"
A literary analysis of Vladimir Nabokov's novel "Lolita" from a Freudian perspective.
# 128823 | 2,783 words | 20 sources | APA | 2010 | PH
Published on Aug 13, 2010 in Literature (Russian) , Psychology (Freud) , Child, Youth Issues (Child Abuse)

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This paper analyzes Vladimir Nabokov's novel "Lolita" through a Freudian lens. The paper explains that although Vladimir Nabokov was a famed critic of all things Freudian, it is still possible to find Freudian elements, both intentional and unintentional, in his most famous novel. The paper describes and dissects these elements, which include the struggle between id and superego for prevalence, defense mechanisms, and fixation. Even though Nabokov was staunchly opposed to psychoanalysis, the paper asserts, it is still possible to view his work through that specific lens and come up with interesting discoveries. The paper points out that while perspectives of Freud and Nabokov may be diametrically opposed, the beliefs contained in each perspective are not mutually exclusive. The paper concludes that analyzing literature through a scientific viewpoint and approaching psychology with an artistic mind may lead to remarkable new discoveries in both fields.

Summary of Vladimir Nabokov's Rejection of Freudian Theories
Thesis Statement
Synopsis of the Novel
Biographical Profile of Nabokov
Personal Life
The Writing Process for Lolita
Freudian Themes as Exhibited by the Characters in the Novel
Defense Mechanisms
Structures of Consciousness
Components of Personality

From the Paper:

"The superego surfaces in both characters towards the end. Lolita grows up fast over the course of the novel, from an idle-minded, prepubescent American girl at the beginning of the story to a worn-out, jaded, pregnant teenager at the end of it. Her superego does not drive her -- she still asks him for money since she needs it, an id-driven action -- but she does feel minor traces of guilt for continuing to take advantage of Humbert's affections even after leaving him without a word almost three years prior. Humbert's metanoia is evident in his final reflection of the relationship, where he expresses regret and guilt for having ruined a girl's childhood because he was unable to control his desires. His superego emerges here; Humbert, at last, is aware that this sort of selfishness was morally wrong, because it was his duty as a stepfather and a sympathetic human being to not cause Lolita that sort of long-lasting harm."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Boeree, C. G. (2009). Sigmund Freud. Retrieved February 27, 2010, from
  • Boyd, B. (1991). Vladimir Nabokov: The American years. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Brown, J. A. C. (1961). Freud and the post-freudians. Berkshire, United Kingdom: Cox & Wyman Ltd.
  • Bruss, P. (1981). Victims: Textual strategies in recent American fiction. East Brunswick, NJ: Bucknell University Press.
  • Cohen, D. G. (2005). My potential patients: Origins, detection, and transference in Pale Fire and Freud's Case of the Wolf-Man. Retrieved February 25, 2010 from

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

Freudian Themes in Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita" (2010, August 13) Retrieved May 26, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Freudian Themes in Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita"" 13 August 2010. Web. 26 May. 2020. <>