Study Guide

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest Ethics and Morality

By Stieg Larsson

Ethics and Morality

His job was to save his patient's life, irrespective of whether she was a triple murderer or a Nobel Prize winner, or both. (1.21)

Unlike some doctors we know (Teleborian) Dr. Jonasson, Salander's doctor at Sahlgrenska Hospital has some serious ethics. His job is to save lives. Period.

"[Blomkvist] says that we'll have to ask her herself, if that time ever comes. He says he absolutely won't discuss a person who is not only innocent but also has had her rights so severely violated." (2.170)

Blomkvist recognizes that he has an ethical responsibility not to speak for Salander. In some ways, this whole book can be seen as Salander's quest for her right to speak for herself and tell the truth of her story.

"I can see that you milksops are too sensitive to kill her, and that you don't even have the resources to have it done. […] She has to disappear. Her testimony has to be declared invalid. She has to be committed to a mental institution for life." (4.156)

Zalachenko is a regular ethics and morality guru. In other words, he has absolutely no scruples, even where his own children are concerned.

Gullberg had no doubt that Zalachenko was a sick f***, but he was in no position to pick and choose among GRU agents. He had only one, a man very aware of his value to Gullberg. (5.132)

Gullberg believes that if he doesn't keep the Zalachenko secret under cover, the Section, which is like Gullberg's kid, will crash and burn. Do you think that Gullberg is ultimately more concerned about keeping the Section running or keeping the Swedish people safe?

But Jonasson also realized that isolation was an inhumane way of punishing people; in fact, it bordered on torture. (8.91)

Did you hear that, Teleborian? This point is discussed in more length in The Girl Who Played With Fire.

She just wanted to be left in peace. When it came down to it, she was the one who would have to live with herself. (9.95)

Salander has been through an awful lot at this point. As she recovers, she snaps back to her old self, the one who wants to protect helpless and vulnerable people from predators.

"Your job description as a journalist is to question and scrutinize critically—never to repeat claims uncritically, no matter how highly placed the sources in the bureaucracy." (10.181)

Berger gives great lessons in journalistic ethics.

"The question is, why are apartments so f***ing expensive." (11.109)

In trying to answer this question, Millennium reporter Henry Cortez discovers that Berger's new boss is selling super expensive toilets made cheaply in Vietnam using child labor. This puts Berger in a dicey situation, which she handles like a champ.

"What I'm thinking of asking you is unethical and might also be illegal."


"But morally it's the right thing to do." (11.277-279)

This is Blomkvist convincing Jonasson to smuggle Salander's Palm Tungsten into her hospital room. He's so smooth. Do you agree with him?

"I've stolen a sum of money," she replied with great seriousness. "I need a crook who can administer it." (29.67)

This is how Salander hires Jeremy MacMillan Stuart to be her lawyer in this flashback to The Girl Who Played With Fire.

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