Synopsis Of Lolita

Synopsis Of Lolita

Lolita is a classic novel written by Russian-American author Vladmir Nabokov in 1955.

A French literature professor in his 40s uses the pseudonym Humbert Humbert when he writes letters to an American 12-year-old girl named Dolores.

Originally, the novel (which was written in English) was published in Paris. Later, the book became available in Russian. It was then published again in1967.

In 1962, the novel was adapted into a film by Stanley Kubrick.  It was then adapted into another movie by Adrian Lyne in 1997.

There have been several other adaptations of the book including stage adaptations.

There have been two operas, two ballets and a commercially unsuccessful Broadway musical. 

We’re going to look at a synopsis of what happens in the film adaptation of Lolita by Stanley Kubrick. 

Synopsis Of Lolita


Drunkenly playing the piano, Clare Quilty sits alone in his isolated mansion before being shot to death by Humbert Humbert. 

Four years ago, Humbert arrived in New Hampshire ready to relax before beginning his new job at Beardsley College in Ohio.

He meets Charlotte Haze, a widowed woman who invites him to stay at her house. He decides to stay after meeting her 14-year-old daughter, Dolores who is nicknamed Lolita. 

Humbert becomes instantly infatuated. To become closer to Lolita, Humbert accepts Charlotte’s offer of living in her house.

Charlotte, however, wants him all for herself. She tells him of her plans to send Lolita to a summer camp for girls.

After the Haze family has left for their camp site, the maid hands Humbert a letter from Charlotte.

Within the letter, Charlotte confesses her love for Humbert and offers him an ultimatum — marry her, or leave.

Humbert reluctantly accepts Charlotte’s marriage proposal in order to be closer to Dolores.

While Lolita is away, the couple’s relationship takes a turn for the worst. Humbert becomes increasingly withdrawn and Charlotte becomes increasingly dissatisfied.

Later, Charlotte discovers that Humbert had written about her in his diary. He described her as “brainless” and “obnoxious”.

Upset, Charlotte rushes out into the street but is instantly struck by a car and killed.

When Lolita is due to be collected from summer camp, Humbert arrives. Not knowing that her mother is deceased, they stay at a hotel overnight.

In the lobby, Humbert meets a mysterious man.  He focuses the conversation on Humbert’s “beautiful daughter”, who is asleep upstairs in the hotel room.

Humbert leaves the conversation and returns to his hotel room.

The next morning, Lolita plays a game with Humbert that she claims to have learned at camp. During the scene it is insinuated that they have a sexual interaction.

They leave the hotel and head across the country together staying at different motels.

When they are in public and around other people they keep up the charade that they are father and daughter.

After several days of doing this, Humbert finally admits to Lolita that her mom is actually dead and not sick.

Despite being stricken with grief at the death of her mother, Lolita decides to stay with Humbert.

When the new semester starts, Humbert takes his post as professor at Beardsley College and enrolls Lolita at the same school.

Eventually, people begin questioning whether Dolores’ relationship with her overly-protective father is healthy.


Soon thereafter, Lolita becomes increasingly involved in extracurricular activities, one of which is the school play. Humbert begins to feel anxious about this.

When Humbert returns home one night, he is faced with an unexpected visitor. There is Dr. Zempf, a rude man who speaks with a heavy German accent.

He claims to be Lolita’s teacher and asks to discuss Lolita playing the leading role in the school play.

Later, Humbert goes to see the play, and he finds out that Lolita has been lying about where she was on Saturdays.

Instead of attending piano lessons, Lolita was spending intimate time with Dr. Zempf.

After arguing about this, Humbert finally decides to leave Beardsley College and take Lolita on another trip.

Lolita objects to this to begin with but all of a sudden changes her mind and becomes very excited about the prospect. 

As soon as they begin to travel, he notices that they are being trailed by a strange car. Suddenly, Lolita becomes sick, so Humbert takes her to the hospital. 

When Humbert comes back to pick her up, she isn’t there. The nurse says that Lolita left with someone else who claimed to be her Uncle.

Humbert leaves without any idea of the whereabouts of Lolita. 

Some years pass and Humbert receives a letter from someone named Mrs. Richard T. Schiller. It turns out this is Lolita’s newly married name.

She says she is married to a man named Richard, and that she is also expecting a baby and has no money.

Humbert decides to go to her address and ask for an explanation from her about who kidnapped her three years prior.

She claims that it was Clare Quilty, the same man who followed them in the car, and the same man who disguised himself as Dr. Kempf.

Apparently, she had continued her affair with Dr. Kempf and then left when he told her that he would give her fame and fortune by making her appear in his art films.

Humbert asks for Lolita to leave her husband, realizing that he is still in love with her.  She refuses his offer to leave with him.

Then, Humbert hands Lolita $14,000 and says that it is the money he made from selling her mother’s house.

He then leaves for the mansion to shoot Quilty. It was later revealed that Humbert had died from a heart attack whilst waiting on trial for his murder of Clare Quilty.


Despite its many adaptations, Lolita remains an extremely popular book that will continue to be adapted in the future.

Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the novel is one of the most memorable and has been credited as such. 

If you haven’t already, why not check out Stanley Kubrick’s movie adaptation of Lolita. 

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