The Girl Who Played With Fire Themes

Themes

Media Sensationalism

Larsson is a journalist, and he uses this novel to criticize the media’s tendency to sensationalize cases and publish misinformation before checking sources. Sweden’s newspapers immediately judge, convict, and sentence Lisbeth Salander for the triple homicide as soon as her name is released as a suspect. Similarly, the media relies on alarming headlines such as “psychotic” and “Satanic” to increase their sales. Larsson also portrays the media as ever ready to encourage discrimination in their audience if doing so will help sales. When it is discovered that Mimmi is a lesbian and that Lisbeth is her lover, both women are presented in the press as perverted sadists seemingly capable of committing a sundry of violent acts.

Government Corruption

Although Lisbeth Salander would not appreciate anyone viewing her as a victim, she is certainly victimized by the corruption within the very parts of Sweden’s social services that were established to help children like her. At a young age, she is taught to distrust anyone in authority and suffers abuse not only from her psychiatrist but also from her guardian. Blomkvist and Palmgren are horrified to find out about the government cover-up that put a murderer’s welfare above that of a young girl.

Similarly, Svensson and Johansson’s research establishes that many of those involved in the sex trafficking activities they have uncovered are government officials or police officers. The couple realizes they will have to file a police report after their works are published but know they must keep their research secret because of corruption’s infiltration of the police and government ranks.

Vigilante Justice

Lisbeth Salander believes fully in vigilante justice. In Part One, she bludgeons Dr. Forbes and watches as he is swept away by the hurricane to his death. She feels no remorse for her actions because she saved Mrs. Forbes from being killed by her husband. When Grenada’s police assume the doctor was killed in the storm, Lisbeth keeps silent and offers no information because she believes justice has been accomplished.

Additionally, although Lisbeth certainly has good reason to distrust the police, she could have gone to them with her evidence proving that Bjurman raped her, and he most likely would have been punished, but she chooses instead to torture her former guardian and blackmail him with the tape.

Finally, when Lisbeth discovers that her father has resurfaced and that he is behind the deaths of two innocent young writers, she could have simply fled the country until her name was cleared, but it is not in her nature to ignore her father’s involvement. She believes that she is the only one who can enact justice upon the malevolent Zala. Lisbeth pays an immense price for carrying out her version of vigilante justice, but her punishments for the novel’s various offenders certainly fit their crimes.