The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson
Analysis: What's Up With the Title?
Lisbeth Salander, our brilliant private investigator-hacker-vigilante, is – yes – the girl with the dragon tattoo. Said tattoo resides on "her left shoulder blade" (2.16). As noted in our discussion of her tattoos in "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory," Salander's past remains a mystery in this novel. So we don't yet learn the significance of the dragon.
The original Swedish title is Män som hatar kvinnor, or Men Who Hate Women. This title comes from Salander's perspective, rather than merely being about her. She believes that hatred is the motive behind crimes against women. Though we tend to think that the English translation title is more fun and mysterious, the original title cuts more to the heart of the novel's plots, which revolve around horrible acts of violence against women. Interestingly, Salander partners with the man who loves women, Mikael Blomkvist.
Together, Blomkvist and Salander discover some men who really hate women, namely, Martin Vanger and his late father, Gottfried, a father-son serial killer team. Consequently, Blomkvist almost becomes the very first male victim of Martin, and gets firsthand knowledge of what it feels like to be one of the women in Martin's torture chamber. The experience increases his interest in making Sweden (and the world) safer for women. This interest becomes a focal point of his work throughout the next two books in the Millennium trilogy.