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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Stieg Larsson

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions & Essay Topics

full title ·  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (in Swedish, Män som hatar kvinnor; literally, ”Men who hate women”)

author · Stieg Larsson

type of work · Novel

genre · Mystery; thriller; crime fiction

language · English; originally written in Swedish

time and place written · Sweden 2002–2003

date of first publication · 2005

publisher · Knopf

narrator · An unidentified narrator describes the events of the story as they occur, periodically expressing a subtle sympathy for, or understanding of, the protagonist’s views.

point of view · The narrator speaks in the third person, focusing alternately on multiple characters throughout the novel. The narrator primarily observes the actions and behaviors of the characters objectively (as they would appear to an outside observer), but also provides frequent insight into the thoughts and feelings of the characters.

tone · Objective, but occasionally sympathetic and critical of economic and social corruption

tense · Past

setting (time) · 2002

setting (place) · A series of real locations throughout Sweden with the exception of Hedeby, which is fictional

protagonist · Mikael Blomkvist

major conflict · Mikael Blomkvist tries to solve the mystery of Harriet Vanger’s disappearance while simultaneously trying to restore his journalistic credibility and save Millennium, the magazine he co-founded.

rising action · Blomkvist and Salander, partners in Blomkvist’s quest to unravel the mystery of Harriet’s demise, hurriedly piece together fragmented bits of information to figure out the relation of several serial killings to Harriet’s disappearance as Blomkvist’s political magazine, Millennium, flounders under the weight of his unjust libel conviction.

climax · Blomkvist’s capture by Martin Vanger, the second-generation serial killer, and Salander’s subsequent intervention alters the course of the narrative by confirming Blomkvist and Salander’s suspicions about Martin’s cruelty towards women and revealing that Harriet, the subject of all their inquiry, is very much alive.

falling action · The news that Harriet is alive and well in Australia promises Henrik peace and the Vanger company a future, while Salander and Blomkvist reconcile themselves to what they’ve discovered and profit financially and professionally from their triumph.

themes · The epidemic of violence against women in modern society; the corruption of Sweden; the inaccuracy of appearances

motifs · Geography; seasons; violence

symbols · Computers; flowers; tattoos

foreshadowing · Blomkvist’s discovery of a dead and dismembered cat on the porch hints at the violence that will occur later in the novel; the break-in at Blomkvist’s cabin in Hedeby foreshadows the brutal confrontation he will later have with Martin; Salander’s research on the psychopathology of sadism foreshadows her discovery of Martin’s true nature

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