Study Guide

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Violence

By Stieg Larsson

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We've got a very violent novel on our hands here. Much of the violence in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is sexual, but other forms of physical violence plus verbal and psychological violence are explored too. This is tricky because Lisbeth Salander, the novel's star, is pretty violent herself. She has violent thoughts even toward good guys, like Blomkvist. She uses violence to get revenge, and to exact what she sees as justice on her enemies and other predators. And she has no qualms about her aggressive methods. By contrast, Blomkvist is never physically violent that we've seen. But he uses his pen like Salander uses her taser, to get revenge and to fight for causes he thinks are just.

Questions About Violence

  1. Could Salander have saved Blomkvist from Martin without using violence?
  2. How do you feel about the violence Salander doles out to Bjurman? Did he get what deserved, or should she have reported him to the police instead?
  3. Does verbal violence usually lead to physical or sexual violence too, as we see in Bjurman's treatment of Salander?
  4. Does Isabella's failure to take action when Gottfried rapes her children, and when Martin rapes Harriet, constitute violence?
  5. How does Harriet's act of violence against her father impact her life? Do you think she feels guilty about it, or just afraid that she'll be found out and punished?
  6. Does Gottfried's violence against Martin explain why Martin turns out the way he does? What makes Martin choose the same path?
  7. Does Martin have a choice, or is he insane and doesn't know what he's doing?
  8. How might Blomkvist's experience with Martin in the basement impact his future life?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Violence Study Group

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