Study Guide

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Violence

By Stieg Larsson

Violence

[Henrik:] "So, there's only one real possibility left, namely that Harriet disappeared against her will. Somebody killed her and got rid of the body." (5.48)

Henrik can't possibly figure out Harriet's disappearance on his own because he's too focused on what he thinks is the violent end of her life, and not enough on her life itself.

How much do you earn? I want a copy of your financial records. Who do you spend time with? Do you pay your rent on time. Do you drink? Did Palmgren approve of those rings you have on your face. Are you careful about hygiene? (9.60)

Bjurman inflicts verbal violence on Salander before he moves on to rape and physical brutality. We're reading it not as dialogue but as she's hearing it in her memory.

Finally the boy punched her in the face; it split open her lip and made her see stars. They left her on the ground behind the gym. She stayed home for two days. On the third day she waited for her tormenter with a baseball bat and whacked him over the ear with it. (12.124)

This is from Salander's grade school days. Nobody defends her when she's attacked repeatedly at school, but as soon as she fights back, she's branded a nut-job.

At first she did not understand what was happening. Then she saw the handcuffs close around her wrists. (13.200)

Salander doesn't anticipate Bjurman's attack because she finds no hints of such behavior when she investigates him. She knows she's on a dangerous mission (to film him raping her) but has no idea how dangerous this really is.

She shoved the taser into his left armpit and fired off 750,000 volts. When his legs began to give way, she used all her strength to push him down on the bed. (14.28)

Yes, Salander sure doesn't hesitate to use violence on her attacker Bjurman when she visits him in his apartment for the second time. How do you feel about this?

Suddenly he heard a sharp crack and the grey concrete wall next to his head exploded. Then he felt the pain as fragments of concrete and shrapnel tore a deep gash in his scalp. (22.92)

When somebody (Martin) starts shooting at Blomkvist, his year in the military as young man pays off. He goes into full battlefield mode and it saves his life.

[Martin:] "[…] I'm more of a serial rapist than a serial murderer. […] most of all, I'm a serial kidnapper. The killing is a natural consequence – so to speak – because I have to hide my crime." (24.26)

As Salander discovers in Martin's "death book" (25.8), he basically stalks every woman he encounters and, from all of these, picks the victims who are least likely to be missed.

He slipped the leather strap through a loop above Blomkvist's head and then tightened it so he was forced to stand on tiptoes. (24.89)

Blomkvist is the first of Martin's victims to enter the basement and exit alive.

[Salander:] "Do you like pain, creep?" (24.102)

This line is sure to make it into the Hollywood version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. She doles out pain to Martin with one of his CEO toys, a golf club.

Salander: "Bulls***. […] Gottfried isn't the only kid who was ever mistreated. That doesn't give him the right to murder women. He made that choice himself. And the same is true of Martin. (24.98)

Why do some abused people become abusers, and others don't? That's the crux of Salander and Blomkvist's debate.

The pain was so immediate and so fierce that Lisbeth stopped in midstride, incapable of movement. She wanted to take the metal sign and use the hard edge to cleave Berger's head in two. (Epilogue.130)

Salander wants to salve her heartache with violence, though her form of violence is rather controlled. She sees a clear difference between using violence on a bad guy, and using it on a woman she sees as a rival.