The serial killer and one of the primary antagonists of the novel, Martin exemplifies the man who hates women. Vanger devotes a great amount of his time and energy to choosing his victims. That his choices focus on powerless women who will not be missed, or on those who do not possess the will or ability to fight back, suggests both the frightening lack of protection society offers to women and the depth of his hate for them. Martin also exemplifies the conflict between personal accountability and outside influence. Blomkvist argues that Martin’s revolting crimes stem from his childhood abuse, while Salander argues that, regardless of his past, Martin is accountable for his own choices. Martin essentially serves as the most extreme example of the predatory men who appear throughout the text, including Salander’s guardian, Nils Bjurman, and Hans-Erik Wennerström.
Martin additionally represents the dark and disturbing lineage of the Vanger family. The product of a bloodline that includes an alcoholic, sexually abusive father and an anti-Semitic grandfather, as well as an absentee mother, Martin exemplifies the worst end result of a profoundly dysfunctional family. Blomkvist notes throughout the text that, despite significant financial and personal success, the Vanger family seems fundamentally broken. Martin, the acting head of the company and a seemingly decent man on the surface, symbolizes the festering corruption beneath the surface of the seemingly respectable, wealthy clan. Even his dungeon, hidden beneath his father’s old cabin, evidences the darkness and depravity on which the family’s wealth is built.