International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Stegl Larsson
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo explored
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is Larssons social portrait
of a corrupt, modern Sweden. He uses the unconventional characters
of the novel to explore this using the themes of abuse, control
and revenge. His social commentary is emphasised by referencing
of the cultural calendar Epiphany Day , Midsummer Eve, Childrens
Day Parade to maintain setting and atmosphere.
novelist, Astrid Lindgrens impact on Larsson is also hard to ignore
and the writer is keen to share that influence even though his characters
seem less than happy with the comparison.
he was nicknamed Kalle Blomkvist by his peers
In spite of his respect for Astrid Lindgren whose
books he loved he detested the nickname."
"Somebodyd get a fat lip if they ever called me Pippi Longstocking
Kalle Blomkvist was Lindgrens child detective who
relished cracking codes and puzzles to solve kidnappings and murders.
Pippi Longstocking was her dysfunctional girl who struggled
to find a role in normal society, always wanting things done her way.
Larssons reference to these fictional inspirations confirms his
commitment to Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. He wants us to
know everything about these characters, even their fictional birth.
Blomkvist acts as a political and social literary device for Larsson
using the magazine Millennium and its constant battle to
unmask industrialist corruption. Larsson was among the worlds
leading experts on right wing extremism and became editor in chief of
Expo. He was also a consultant for Scotland Yard and it is this expert
opinion that is at the core of the moral quest of the central characters.
Larsson uses the introduction of multiple characters to give the book
a social structure. Salander is hired by Armansky who was hired by Frode,
who was hired by Henrik Vanger to ensnare Blomkvist. This elaborate
introduction mirrors the way the world works and Larsson doesnt
forget this as an integral part of his social commentary. Blomkvist
even goes to prison because of a libel charge brought against him by
the corrupt Wennerstrom, which is central to the books theme of revenge.
These peripheral characters are also used in assisting the investigation.
The retired, D.S Morell introduces us to the Rebecka Case,
the first Cold Case crime committed by the killer. Even
Blomkvists daughter Pernilla assists with the bible references.
There is a central control theme with Larssons characters. Henrik
Vanger exerts control over Blomkvist using money and revenge. If Blomkvist
trades a year of his life to document a history of the Vanger family
and to find Harriet Vangers killer, he will be rewarded financially,
professionally and emotionally.
Erica Berger, Blomkvists best friend, lover, and boss at Millennium,
is a rarity in Larssons Sweden. Berger is a powerful woman who
has taken control, professionally and sexually, and dominates the men
in her life.
The use of genealogy in mapping a diagram of the Vanger Family
Tree provides us with our suspect list. Larsson surrounds Blomkvist
with these suspects on Hedeby Island creating tension and playing on
the isolation of our hero in a cold, harsh, unfamiliar climate. This
device brings us into the familiar territory of a murder, mystery novel
but the interjection of Salander twists this formulaic shape completely
out of joint.
Lisbeth Salander is a computer Hacker with tattoos
and body piercings. She is a dysfunctional girl with a history of abuse,
and the central character to the Dragon Tattoo title. The
depiction of Salander is Larssons model of the dark side of contemporary
Sweden and a result of the evident corruption he has encountered. Salander
suffers further violent and sexual abuse at the hands of her guardian,
Advocate Nils Bjurman, but his control is not absolute.
and it did not bode well for Herr Advokat Nils Bjurman."
There are many examples of Larsson daring the reader not
to watch. He often instructs us when something significant, and often
brutal, is about to happen. This is never more apparent than when an
isolated Blomkvist finds himself inside Martin Vangers basement.
"Blomkvist had opened the door to hell"
Encapsulating the recurring themes of abuse, control and revenge, Salander
records the evidence of her rape to gain emotional control over her
abuser. The physical nature of her revenge is to tattoo Bjurman.
"The message was written in caps over five lines that covered his
belly, from his nipples to just above his genitals: I AM A SADISTIC
PIG A PERVERT AND A RAPIST"
Through her condition - a result of corruption and abuse
- Salander pursues her exacting moral stance to destroy Wennerstrom
through his own corrupt financial world. This fuels Larssons social
commentary on the Swedish economy and his own personal rage against
the broken machine that is modern Sweden. The Men Who Hated Women
are revealed inside the torture chamber where Harriet was abused and
other women were tortured and killed. Blomkvist reveals Gottfried and
Martin Vangers motive of simplistic evil.
"Because its so easy,....Women disappear all the time. Nobody
Larsson uses statistics of abuse to support the content of the book,
re-iterating the original title of his work.
"46% of the women in Sweden have been subjected to violence by
The reality of a corrupt modern Sweden is never far away from Larssons
thoughts. The truth is to be buried because of Salanders resistance
to authority and Blomkvists humanity. Henrik Vanger doesnt
have the information to destroy Wennerstrom and asks Blomkvist not to
disclose his findings. Blomkvist echoes Larsson in his response.
"Congratulations; youve managed to corrupt me."
The mystery of Harriet Vanger is unravelled via London and Australia.
Harriet fled Sweden to escape her abusers to become a woman, a wife
and a mother. Sex and sexual abuse is always at the heart of Dragon
Salander and Blomkvist are not the archetypal heroine and hero and in
their relationship Larsson doesnt follow the generic formulas
for success. The book culminates with Salander falling in love with
Blomkvist, but this notion is literally thrown away with
Blomkvists Christmas present into a skip when Salander sees Blomkvist
with Berger. This brings forth a sense of emotional abuse much different
from the physical abuse she has suffered through societys failings
and the self-abuse of her tattoos and body piercings.
"The pain was so immediate and fierce that Lisbeth stopped in mid-stride,
incapable of movement."
Here, we are far from an archetypal conclusion as Lisbeth simply returns
to the isolation of her world.
2009. Astrid Lindgren Her life and popular childrenšs stories. Retrieved
October 16th 2009, from www.pippisworld.com. Bostrom, E. 2008. Stieg
Larsson. Retrieved October 16th 2009, from www.stieglarsson.com. Larsson,
S. 2008. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. London; Machelose Press.
Comment from the MA Group: MS Vodka writes
I wanted to explain
Salander a bit more before we moved away from the Girl with the Dragon
Tattoo as how I see her. Looking first at the "mental illness"
and then onto her hacking capabilities. This was something I was thinking
about in class but remembered a bit more about what I wanted to explain.
I see Salander as a sociopath, not a natural socio-path whose characteristics
usually involve manipulation from own gain, having no emotions; most
disturbingly not having any emotions of guilt or remorse and so forth.
Salander instead is a classic case of a child who has been deprived
of childhood contact, she is from a broken home and so has not been
brought up with emotions and happy situations as such, she has not learnt
the correct emotional responses to situations, it is not that she can't
feel, its that she has not learnt how to feel yet, and has not been
in a stable environment during the key childhood phrases that will allow
her to do so, similar peoples have been reported from psychological
studies, one particular case looked into a group of children in a borstal,
the more broken the home, the more emotional the abuse, the more likely
the child would grow into the characteristics of a socio-path. (Bowlby
44 thieves, if am remembering correctly)
"We can conclude from this evidence that Bowlby was correct to
emphasise the importance of the early years, but the effects of delay
in the formation of attachments do not necessarily persist into adulthood
and lead to affection-less psychopathy, as Bowlby predicted. Indeed,
loving relationships and high quality care are necessary to reverse
privation effects. "
But Salander has not been in any loving relationship as of yet (this
is just based on book one) and so the effects of privation continue.
I hope this makes some kind of sense? if you have more interest could
find some psychology journals for you to read, (to back these claims.)
Moving on to her computer abilities, I would like to point you towards
several female inventors who worked with computers, I have not researched
these women in depth but would like to still use them,1843 Ada Augusta
Lovelace, laid some of the early conceptual and technical groundwork
for high technology by helping develop an early computer.1952 Grace
Hopper was credited with devising the first compiler, a program that
translates instructions for a computer from English to machine language.2002
Under Helen Greiner's leadership, iRobot Corporation is delivering robots
into the industrial, consumer, academic, and military markets. In 2002,
the ROOMBA robot vacuum was introduced to the consumer products marketplace.
http://www.ideafinder.com/features/classact/women.htmRead the BIO of
Dr. Grace Murray Hopper, she was the inventor of COBOL, which is a computer
language, particularly as a child - "At the age of seven, she dismantled
her alarm clock to figure out how it worked, but was unable to reassemble
it. By the time her mother figured out what she had been up to, the
young Grace Hopper had gone through seven clocks in the house "
The point I am making,
is that there have been many women involved in the creation of computers,
who understand things in a similar way that Salander does, some of them
were born with this spark like Salander for just understanding how things
work.Though it would be a rarity to find a privatise child (a child
who has not been able to form an emotional bond) who is also a genius,
I don't think it is impossible and its why I accept that Salander could
be a real person.
Also if anyone here is a Criminal Minds fan, compare the character of
Penelope Garcia, who is a hacker who lost her parents at an early stage
with Salander. What makes Garcia different is that she was able to form
an emotional attachment with the team she worked with, whilst Salander
did not have a chance (in my opinion)
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