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As Swann Jones states, Lolita, ‘consciously borrowed the stock characters of the European fairy tale… the jealous mother, the fairy princess, the prince charming, the ogre father, and the hunter’. For example, Charlotte Haze is characterised as the ‘jealous mother’ by attention drawn to the fact that she serves as a hindrance to Humbert’s desires (‘when Mrs Haze was to me but an obstacle’) and Lolita’s freedom (evident in how she wishes to confine her to a boarding school, out of Humbert’s reach), and her undesirability. Humbert posits himself as ‘Prince Charming’ (‘What a comic … Prince Charming I was!’), and Lolita as the fairy princess (‘a fairy princess between her two maids of honour’). This allusion to fairytales is also seen in the partisan nature of fate, which, throughout Part One of the novel, privileges Humbert. To rid of the obstacle of Charlotte Haze, Humbert notes that, ‘no man can bring about the perfect murder; chance however can do it’. And this is exactly what happens: Charlotte Haze is run over immediately after discovering Humbert’s personal writing, leaving sole custody of Lolita with him (‘I had actually seen the agent of fate’). This mirrors a story Humbert admires earlier in the novel wherein ‘by a miraculous and beautiful coincidence’ fate inclines a murderer’s way and he is able to evade capture and ‘live happily ever after’. This allusion to the fairy tale by Humbert could be seen as another major example of him projecting his fantasy onto reality, but that his fantasy aligns with fate shows the two to be somewhat compatible. However, as Martin Amis points out, ‘however cruel Humbert is to Lolita, Nabokov is crueller to Humbert’. This is illustrated in Part Two of the novel wherein fate begins to turn away from Humbert. For example, ‘on the very first day of school’ workmen put up a fence occluding his view into Lolita’s school and ‘[spoiled] everything’. Furthermore, contrary to the convention of fairy tales, the removal of the obstacle paves the way, not for a satisfactorily blossoming love, but instead a sordid and unhappy relationship between Lolita and Humbert, the culmination of which is Lolita’s final rejection of him: ‘‘Come just as you are. And we shall live happily ever after.’’ / ‘you’re crazy’’. Thus, by first apportioning Humbert with a receptive reality to his fantasy only to morph it into an instrument of incompatibility, Nabokov could be highlighting the notion that fantasy cannot be projected onto reality as the two are irreconcilable. Furthermore, he could be exposing the way in which fairytales attempt to portray life, and forces us to realise that actual events and persons do not always fit these folkloric fabrications. In a very similar vein, we see the regime attempt to characterise Offred and the other handmaids in a fairytale-esque way. When seeing herself in a mirror, Offred notices that she looks like, ‘a parody of something, some fairytale figure in a red cloak’. That she looks like a ‘parody’ of a fairytale character (Little Red Riding Hood) reflects the nature of the regime.
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