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
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
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