Societal Question re: Lolita, the Film

As the title implies, I have a question about the movie Lolita starring Jeremy Irons and Dominique Swain.

For a short time, Lo attended Beardsley, an all girls’ school. During the admissions interview, one of the school’s administrators advised Professor Humbert the school focused more on the three Ds (drama, dancing and dating) than on academics. Bearing in mind I’ve never read Nabakov’s novel, did schools like this really exist? In the 1940s, were there schools that taught girls to be wives instead of preparing them for college?

I found the idea of this odd, yet intriguing. I’m aware that in that era a woman’s role was to be a homemaker but I assumed they were still educated. How else was a woman going to sustain her end of a conversation with her husband and his colleagues while entertaining?

What you’re describing used to be called “finishing schools.” These were designed to give young women (and there were a few for men, as well) an exposure to the social graces and a certain superficial polish. I was under the impression that most of thesewere designed for high school or post high-school students, the idea being that the basic learning had already taken place in elementary school.

As someone who’s done my share of interviewing throughout my career, I can tell you that it’s no trick to hold up one’s end of a conversation by asking fascinating questions (defined as any question that gets the other person to talk about him/herself).

BTW, that scene is in the novel. In fact, the administrator’s speech about the school’s goals is the longest speech in the novel, which may be of importance to analyzing what Nabakov, the academic, was satirizing in American culture.

Wasn’t Delores twelve or thirteen during her attendance at Beardsley School for Girls? Was this a case of Nabokov using artistic liscense or did girls really attend finishing schools at young ages?

Although that scene in the movie didn’t include the lengthy speech you describe, Walloon, it was quite clear that scholastic studies were given a backseat to the three Ds.

If this was a case of satire, then I can rest a bit easier tonight.