The novel “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was written by the Swedish author Stieg Larsson. Lamentable as it is but it was published only after the author’s death in 2004. Within some months after the publishing it became the world bestseller. It is noteworthy that initially in Swedish variant it was called “The Men who hated Women”, but as you see the translator from Swedish to English decided to change its title. And I consider it was not in vain.
I doubt that the book would have become the world bestseller, if it had been published under such misogynistic title. And all in all is not it the very dramatic title “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”? Actually I encountered this book by accident about one year ago surfing American sites for some books to read. Then there were not those everybody’s fad and bandwagon for this novel as we can see today, in Russia it was not familiar to all the people, but became only after David Fincher had shot the film with the same name.
And I still vividly remember that I was just mesmerized exactly by this title and also by the red cover of the book on which a naked woman with a beautiful tattoo on her shoulder blade was depicted. So I hurriedly read all the readers’ reviews, not paying any attention to a pitiful handful of negative ones and decided then that sooner or later I would buy this book without any doubts. Finally, it so happened that I have bought not only one book, but the entire bundle, I mean “The Millennium” trilogy. And now after reading the first book I see that the original Swedish title “The Men who hated Women” is more proper, but nevertheless I like more the English one “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, as it is more enigmatic, it does not disclose a main theme of the novel. Well, actually it means nothing and this tattoo plays no role in the book.
One way or another but behind this meaningless title I have met a great heap of problems. And these problems are not made up out of whole cloth, they are really significant not only for Sweden but for the whole world nowadays. And on this essay I would like to enumerate all the themes I have managed to notice by reading the book. Firstly, I consider that violence is the main theme of the book. Violence runs through the entire book. Much of this violence is sexual. Every part of the novel begins with epigraphs giving us an idea about the state of the women in modern Sweden: “18% of the women in Sweden have at one time been threatened by a man”, “46% of the women in Sweden have been subjected to violence by a man”, “13% of the women in Sweden have been subjected to aggravated sexual assault outside of a sexual relationship”, “92% of women in Sweden who have been subjected to sexual assault have not reported the most recent violent incident to the police”. Lisbeth Salander, the main female character of the book is regarded to be asocial and dangerous for the society, that is why she has been put under the guardianship.
Her guardian Bjurman has the total power over her, as he has taken control of all her honestly earned money. Bjurman understands that Salander is a perfect victim for him, because sooner or later she will need her money and she will come to him to get it. So he goes beyond his commission and subjects Lisbeth to sex, considering that nobody will believe her if she decides to tell about his assaults because she is regarded to be insane. The main villain of the book the magnate Martin Vanger kills his boredom raping women and massacring them as well as his father did when was alive. Martin thinks that nobody will miss immigrants from Eastern Europe, so their lives are worthless. Thus we see that people having power and money can do everything they want even in Sweden where we believe everything is hunky-dory and men and women have fully equal rights. Apart from sexual there is a great deal of physical and even mental violence in the novel.
Lisbeth Salander is very violent herself, she uses violent tools, such as a taser and a golf club to get revenge, she always has violent thoughts even toward the good guy journalist Mikael Blomkvist. But of course we can conclude that her life has made her such a woman. Secondly, the author in his novel reveals the problem of the incompetence and cowardice of investigative journalists. All of them are half-hearted to go against the stream, to say something that will not satisfy industry moguls. They even do not try to do it, on the contrary they try to please frauds, battling for their interests and writing complimentary articles about them. Mikael Blomkvist is the only one brave and competent guy not sucking up to big shots, doing money laundering and embezzlement of public funds. He is brave enough to disclose the true information about one of the most powerful tycoons.
Thirdly, Stieg Larsson, a leading expert on the antidemocratic right-wing extremist and Nazi organizations, brings to the surface the theme of hatred and Nazism. I was surprised to learn about the Nazi activity in Sweden before, during and after World World II. One of the brothers stops talking with his other brother only because the latter has married a Jewish woman. Is not it silly? Hence I would like to formulate the last problem, I have managed to find in the novel: can parents and society bring up a person dangerous for the society> I will try to answer this question taking for example life of Martin Vanger. He was brought up in the dysfunctional family. Martin’s mother Isabella did not pay any attention to her children, she liked drinking and spending time with men, while his father Gottfried was drunkard, rapist and killer, he used to rape his own kids since their puberty. He taught Martin to rape and slaughter women.
Gottfried himself had been raised in the dysfunctional family, in his childhood he saw his father Richard, the inveterate Nazi by the way, beating his mother. So who is guilty that Martin gets pleasure by killing women? Where is the root of all evils? As for me, so I assume that the genetics plays the major role, there was initially something wrong in Richard’s character, that made him the Nazi leader, so Martin inherited this brutality from his grandfather. Besides, it was nourished by the poor upbringing. Well, I assume it is just the right time to stop talking on and on. I have said everything I wanted to say. Actually it was not among my aims to persuade you to read this novel. There are no doubts that some people will find this book too protracted, over-cruel, bloody and sometimes meaningless.
Yes, to tell the truth I began reading it twice, firstly it was quite difficult for me to get a grasp of it; I assume it is because of numerous really complicated financial details the author in the beginning of the book goes into. But the second approach to this book was more successful: I started reading it and I could not stop doing it. Regarding all those brutalities of the book, well, I can say they reflect the true state of affairs in the world: millions of women go through violent and cruel treatment; thousands of them go through rapes, and those people who have money and power they can do everything they want and go unpunished. So this novel brings all these sharp social problems to the surface, that is why I can say with the absolute confidence that it is one of the best novels for the last decade. I am really addicted to this series and as I reckon the fact that Stephen King recommends to read these books does them even more credit.