The sample essay on My Little Cup Brims With Tiddles deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
Lolita, written by Vladimir Nabokov is a novel based on a middle-aged gentleman and his infatuation with a young girl who is twelve years of age. The extract consisting of the first five chapters of the novel and the main theme being the central character, Humbert Humbert’s reflection on his childhood years and his explanation for his obsession with, “nymphets,” or “girl-children;” that is, ” a girl who is over eight but under fourteen years.
This culminates in his lusty fixation with Lolita and the narrative techniques Nabokov employs illustrate this. The order of events in the extract begins with Humbert reflecting upon Lolita in the first few paragraphs and we learn that we are in the present day. In section two we hear of his childhood with some background information on his family and country of origin, “I was born in 1910, in Paris.
” After this sentence he informs us of his childhood and in a few paragraphs he summarises his formative years of life.
This flashback technique is called analepsis. Nabokov has chosen to present Humbert’ childhood very sweepingly as if to place no great importance upon it, perhaps he is stressing that his childhood has no significant bearing on his condition. I grew, a happy, healthy child in a bright world of illustrated books, clean sand, orange trees, friendly digs, sea vistas and smiling faces.
Humbert also describes his childhood fleetingly as if that is the way he actually feels about it.
The days of my youth, as I look back on them, seem to fly away from me in a flurry of pale, repetitive scraps like those morning snowstorms of used tissue paper that a train passenger sees whirling in the wake of the observation car. The next events of Humbert’s life are in section three, when we hear about Annabel, his first love. These events are described at great length as Humbert emphasises that they more important to him.
He describes his first furtive attempts to have sex with her in graphic detail. After one wild attempt we made to meet at night in her garden (of which more later) the only privacy we were allowed was to be out of earshot but not out of sight of the populous part of the plage. There, on the soft sand, a few feet away from our elders, we would sprawl all morning, in a petrified paroxysm of desire, and take advantage of every blessed quirk in space and time to touch each other.
In section four Humbert leaps back into present day, reminiscing about Annabel and her untimely death, telling us that this is the reason for his lack of romance with anybody else during the rest of his youth, and perhaps this also explains his unnatural affections for Lolita. At the end of this section, Humbert saves the details of his only real sexual experience, as he obviously regards this as the climax of this period in his life, and we learn that Lolita is in fact a product of his recreation of Annabel in his bid to consummate his love for her.
Until at last, twenty-four years later, I broke her spell by incarnating her in another. Section Five sees Humbert still reminiscing about the past, as he goes on to describe his education. However, we sense that there is no particular enthusiasm for his studies or, indeed, for his chosen career, that of an English teacher, as there no real description of his schooldays, they are glossed over fairly quickly in two sentences. After a brief description of his career we learn possibly the real reason for him becoming a teacher as, “pale pubescent girls with matted eyelashes could be stared at. Humbert then digresses at length about his obsession with, “nymphets,” in a long rambling speech about young girls and their bewitching powers, with particular reference to Lolita, perhaps indicating his madness in his obsession with her.
The extract is written in form of memoirs as if were not a work of fiction but an autobiographical account of his Humbert’s life, it is a ,”novel pretending to be a memoir. “1 Humbert is writing from his prison cell awaiting trial and there is an implied reader as if Humbert is writing an apology to the courtroom, addressing the “ladies and gentlemen of the jury. The third paragraph in section one is written in conversational form, “answering implied questions from an unspecified interlocutor, in the manner of a dramatic monologue. “2 Humbert asks the question, “Did she have a precursor,” and then answers the reader, as of course they can not, “She did, indeed she did. ”
Humbert indicates to us that he is in prison and is constantly being watched, “I am writing under observation,” and by his method of speaking directly to the reader he tells us to, “tells us to look out for codes and clues and beware of the literal. 3 Ironically this immediately convinces us of his undeniable guilt. The narration begins in the present tense in the first line. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. However, in the next section we are thrust back into the past tense, and throughout the extract Nabokov uses a clever narrative technique, when, amidst the descriptions of Humbert’s encounters with Annabel and his subsequent career, we are constantly reminded of his nagging sense of longing for Lolita by his method of bringing us back to the present tense. .. and this is how I see Lolita… The extract is seen through the eyes of Humbert Humbert and his is the narrative voice through which we are told the story therefore the extract exhibits mimesis in that the narrator is telling us the story.
However, there is an omnicient narrator in Nabokov’s own authorial comment and the narration switches from the third person authorial commentary in the past tense – diagesis – to the first person in the present tense: Humbert’s own point of view, which is mimesis, but this only happens once in the extract.
But let us be prim and civilised. Humbert Humbert tried hard to be good. Really and truly, he did. He had the utmost respect for ordinary children, with their purity and vulnerability, and under no circumstances would he have interfered with the innocence of a child, if there was the least risk of a row… So life went, Humbert was perfectly capable of intercourse with Eve, but it was Lilith he longed for. The bud stage of breast development appears early (10. 7 years) in the sequence of somatic changes accompanying pubescence.
And the next maturational item available is the first appearance of pigmented pubic hair (11. 2 years). My little cup brims with tiddles. The underlined section indicates where there is a change from the authorial commentary to free direct speech as Humbert takes over the narration and it moves into the present tense letting us into Humbert’s stream of consciousness. Finally, in the last sentence we are fully aware that Humbert has taken over the narration, as we move into the final sentence, “my little cup brims with tiddles,” and the narration moves into the first person.
Perhaps this sudden change from the authorial commentary to free direct speech is contrasted so dramatically to illustrate Humbert’s sexual preoccupation with children and to show us in this dramatic style that he is constantly thinking about it. However, Humbert is an unreliable narrator as we are never completely sure of his sanity and that what we are being told is the truth. One indication of this is his desperate attempt to convince us that the affection he holds for Lolita is completely normal and should not be judged as unwholesome in modern society.
Marriage and cohabitation before the age of puberty are still not uncommon in certain East Indian provinces. Lepcha old men of eighty copulate with girls of eight, and nobody minds. This is an extremely clever technique as it makes the reader begin to question the actual sanity behind a culture which does not allow these practises as we are drawn into his madness, until we remind ourselves that he is, in fact, insane. Another feature of the extract which illustrates Humbert as an unreliable narrator is the fact that we are immediately thrust into oppositions at the beginning if the passage. My sin / My soul Light of my Life / Fire in my loins
Humbert tries to make his obsession with Lolita seem respectable but the contradictions in his speech let the reader know that his intentions are not honourable. The language of Lolita is also worthy of comment in that Nabokov exhibits a style of writing known as ‘fancy prose,’ and this can be explained as being that works of fiction generally have no rules, therefore the author can be as flamboyant and as decorative as he pleases. Nabokov uses excessive alliteration in the first paragraph, indeed David Lodge calls it, “a veritable firework display of alliteration. ” “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.
Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. The use of repetition is also employed, that is, repetition of particular sounds, similar to that which is used in poetry. The metaphor of the tongue indicates a double meaning, and is an extremely apt use of imagery, suggesting both his verbosity in this eloquent appraisal of Lolita and also indicating his animalistic lust for her. This illustrates the style in which Nabokov writes, and he mockingly acknowledges this fact with the line, “can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. To conclude, the narrative techniques employed in the extract all cleverly illustrate Humbert’s obsession with Lolita. From the extract it can be assumed that the majority of the novel is written in the narration of Humbert himself with very little authorial comment. However, from the small amount that there is the construction of the text is very misleading in the figure of the narrator, as it jumps from authorial commentary to Humbert’s narrative without any clear indication other than the change in tense.
However, we can deduce that the author’s point of view and the narrators are extremely similar as though he is sympathising with the plight of the principle character. We are also aware that Humbert is an unreliable narrator and cannot be relied upon for an honest account of the story and, as a result, this also further implicates his madness. The imagery of the courtroom also suggests to us at the beginning of the extract to deliver a guilty verdict before hearing his plea.