In the book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, author Stieg Larsson has truly created a marvelous character named Lisbeth Salander. She is the stereotypical gothic twenty-three year old girl, yet she hides her inner personality and capabilities underneath layers of makeup and dark clothes. She is physically weak and vulnerable, which gives the reader a sense that she is a fragile woman with no means of guarding herself. However, the one thing that no one can attack is her intelligence and emotional powers. Possessing a high IQ level, it is clear to the reader that Larsson has created a character that can outwit anyone double her size.
There are many moments in the book when Lisbeth Salander is physically and emotionally assaulted and raped. The reader learns that her foundation and childhood are highly contributing factors to these unfortunate circumstances. Lisbeth’s mother was passive and submissive to her abusing husband, who not only abused her, but also her daughter, beating them regularly. When his beating caused brain damage of his wife, Lisbeth threw gasoline on her father and set him on fire. However, he survived. After this, Lisbeth was taken in by the government social welfare child services and was transferred to multiple foster care homes since the age of twelve. There are many hints in the book that suggest that Lisbeth continued to suffer from abuse through these guardians, which is the main reason why she is extremely anti-social and does not trust people easily.
At the present time of the story, Lisbeth’s counselor or social case worker refuses to give her trusty reports, and blackmails her that he will keep providing negative reports and not give her money, unless she complies with his wishes, which involve giving him sexual favors. Even after Lisbeth willingly agrees, he continues to force his will on her, raping her cruelly and acting like nothing happened afterwards. After this incident, the reader finds out exactly what Lisbeth is capable of. She carefully plans everything in advance, so even when she is encountered with surprise situations, she has control over consequences. For instance, Lisbeth videotaped the rape from a secret camera installed in her backpack, which she uses later to blackmail the counselor. Furthermore, it is clear that she can handle herself and protect herself, if she wants as she managed to gag, bound and rape the counselor all by herself through tools, such as Tasers.
This made people question, if Lisbeth had intentionally let herself be raped, in order to blackmail the counselor, indicating her peculiar thought pattern and pain tolerance. Moreover, taking revenge is one of her primary goals and methods of surviving, using revenge as a defense mechanism. Her behavior showed that she quickly processes small details in her mind and stores the data for the later use. Her photographic memory was apparent when she did not need to reference notes and photos Mikael gave her to study. In addition, Lisbeth travels freely and does not get lost, showing her strength to remember routes and strange places. She is a highly secretive person, working for a news magazine as an undercover investigator, and is proficient in computers and technology, being able to hack into any account. Her heightened intelligence, along with antisocial behavior, violent tendencies and pain inflictions would all point to classic psychological cases of behavioral disorders; however, that is exactly what Lisbeth aims for people to see her. The readers realize that she is leading multiple lives and is capable of being a “normal” person. Yet, she had been conditioned to show people what they want to see (as a child growing up in the state foster system) for her own benefit.
Having, one can immediately sense that perception has somewhat changed about other individuals. Even though Lisbeth is a fictional character, she made one realize that people are in control of their actions and they should use that control to gain advantage over the system and others who around them. At many instances, Lisbeth proved that she was just as normal as everyone else, but she chose to lead a certain lifestyle because of what people expected of her. I think that often times; people easily label people under scientific or social labels, thinking that categories will help organize the world in a better way. However, Lisbeth proved that these categories are faulty and anyone can bypass them. Furthermore, one now questions the “system” more as it is not teaching children to help themselves or helping them. It is just a way by which one can to monitor their existence. Lisbeth reminded all that it is time for the government to take off the blindfold and pay attention to its dependents. All in all, one cannot look at people the same way again or judge them quickly, as there might be layers of personalities underneath the exterior.