Popular and Contemporary Literature
March 24, 2013
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Critical Reflection
The critic and scholar Karen Sanchez-Eppler says, "Narrative formulas index cultural obsessions." The narrative formula for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson follows two unlikely heros, each guided by their own set of principles and outlooks on the world and influenced by the events in the story, coming together to solve a seemingly unsolvable mystery. A cultural obsession that’s being indexed is sex and sex crimes.
In many cultures sex sells and this is especially true in American culture. Many best sellers seem to be so because there is either sex or violence or both prevalent throughout the novel. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo novel happens to not only have both but also has them comingled together since the sex is violent. Sexism makes this novel. The main character, Mikael Blomkvist has a lot of casual sex with three different women, his co-editor at Millennium Erica Berger, Cecilia Vanger, and Lizbeth Salander, his “side-kick” in the Harriet Vanger investigation. While these encounters are not violent, they are not the actual focus of the story but there to further establish Mikael’s character and likely to suggest his healthy need for “normal” sex and female companionship. Salander, is not so lucky. She is raped by her new guardian, Nils Bjurman. First it’s just oral but the second time he performed heinous and sadistic acts on her beginning with tying her up and anally sodomizing her. Salander’s way of getting back at Bjurman has a sexually aggressive tone to it especially when she “roughly spread his cheeks and rammed the [anal] plug into its proper place (Larsson, ch 14)” and after showing Bjurman the video she had taken with her hidden camera of their previous encounter “grabbed the whip and flicked it right over his genitals (Larsson, ch 14)” in order to grab his attention. She...
Cited: Larsson, Stieg. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Trans. Reg Keeland. New York: Vintage-
Random House, 2008. Kindle file.
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