Study Guide

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Isolation

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A big chunk of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is set on a remote Swedish island mostly owned and inhabited by the Vanger family. It also features several isolated cabins, a bedroom torture chamber, and a serial killers basement. These isolated settings work with the isolated mindsets of the main characters. Henrik Vanger is shut off from everything by his obsession with Harriet's disappearance. If Blomkvist wasn't isolated by his recent professional disgrace, he would never have jumped on board to help Henrik. Salander is perhaps the most isolated character of all –she's the novel's true outsider. Even Martin has a life full of friends and family who love him. But Salander is isolated from even her friends by her legal status and her lack of trust. We are also asked to feel the isolation of minor characters – Martin's victims, the women who spent their last days and hours in his windowless, soundproof chamber of horrors.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Is Salander more or less isolated by the end of the novel? In what ways?
  2. Why does Henrik insist that a family member murdered Harriet on the secluded Hedeby island?
  3. In what ways might Bjurman's tattoo (courtesy of Salander) isolate him? Do you think it will keep him from hurting other women?
  4. Does the secret of Martin Vanger isolate those who know it?
  5. Is Blomkvist more or less isolated by the end of the novel?
  6. Why does Cecilia continue to live on Hedeby Island, instead of in a less isolated area?

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