The triology impacts many readers with its intricacy of plot. In this review, however, I wish to focus on the thematic elements with their thought provoking potential.
At the core of the thematic structure is Larsson’s presentation of women as victims of “1-1” abuse.
Examples of these women would include Lisbeth, her mother, Erica Berger, and the many nameless women abused or even killed.
Coupled with “1-1” abuse, is the reference to women being abused systematically by institutions. Examples of systemic abusers would include the government and the police, the justice system, the medical establishement and social service agencies.
Integrity, its essence and consequences, threads its way throughout the trilogy: journalistic, financial and technological ethics questions are posed to the reader.
The reader is bekoned to reflect on the question: what is mature, genuine, authentic human sexuality?
What behavior patterns indicate a living out of a person’s sexuality that is is immature, stunted, destructive rather than growth producing? Blomvkist’s sister says her brother is “screwing his way through life…” not perceptive to the hurt he is causing. How does he relate to Ericka, Lisbeth, Monica, Cecilia? Is he capable of love? Are his sexual relationships anything more than physical?
Are love (“other” centered devotion,) emotional intimacy and fidelity essential aspects of a mature sexual relationship?
What women in the novels are growing as healthy sexual persons: Erika, Monica, Cecilia?
Or, are they as much as victims as tragically flawed Lisbeth–albeit to a much lesser degree? Lisbeth, who says, “I’m not good at relationships.” is so because of her inability to trust, which leads to her subsequent emotional isolation. She is cognitively brillant, but emotionally disabled. All of this is rooted in her being victimized by men.
But she is a fighter. And in her own way demands respect. Perhaps that is the concluding thematic question for readers of both genders: how shall I as a woman demand respect, and how I as a man always be respectful?
Ernie Stark i Glen Ellyn
Submitted: 19 July 2010