(Warning: This post contains spoilers.)
There are few heroines that speak to me the way Lisbeth Salander does.
Stieg Larsson has become famous. Everyone has heard of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest. But the works speak to me in a way that is perhaps more profound than they do your average reader. I admire Lisbeth Salander, that skinny waif of a girl who is so strong and has so much heart. I love her spirit. I think her tattoos are beautiful. I think every single one of them is a 'f--k you' to all the people who hurt her. I love that she alternatively dresses like a goth, a punk or mixes up the social stratas to be blonde, wealthy women such as Irene Nesser.
And I really love the Swedish film version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"- which I just rented off of iTunes and watched tonight! It was so brilliantly done. It was the fragile, sexy, clever, intelligent, lonely, antisocial and beautiful Salander brought to the forefront. There's a part in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" - the book version- which is so token Salander. She's talking to Blomkvist and she says that Harriet Vanger was a coward and a weakling because by fleeing to Australia she didn't report Martin and allowed him to keep abusing women for the rest of the time that he was alive. And she holds Harriet responsible for that, for the cowardice that allowed Martin to continue to hurt so many other people. And there's an element of justice in that, testament to the unique moral code that Salander follows, that resonates so strongly with me. In Salander's world there is right and there is wrong and choosing to be weak and allowing others to be hurt because you haven't got the guts to condemn them or fight them is wrong.
The movie demonstrates this in a pivotal scene where Salander and Blomkvist are talking and the conversation goes like so:
Blomkvist: What happened out there? [pause] He didn't die in an accident, did he? [pause] Damn, Lisbeth. His father taught him to kill when he was 16 years old. That would make anyone sick in the brain.
Salander: Don't make him into a f--king victim. He nearly killed you. He was a killer and a rapist and he enjoyed it. He had the same chances as everyone else. You choose who you want to be. He wasn't a victim. He was an evil motherf--ker who hated women.
Blomkvist: How did he die?
Salander: He burned to death.
Blomkvist: Could you have saved him?
Blomkvist: But you let him burn.
And the Salander in that scene is all avenging angel justice-in-black-leather with delicate piercings scattered across her eyebrow, nose and ears. You can't help but love her.
She's a goddess in black leather who drives motorcycles, can access your computer and beats people up with golf clubs. She'll only hurt you if you deserve it and she'll dole out justice where it's due. She won't let anyone intimidate her, frighten her or otherwise manipulate her. She's independent in every single way and scary as hell.
She's Froken Salander...and she's a diminutive 4 foot 9 or so.
She's also the answer to Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. McMurphy died to set his ward free...but Lisbeth Salander's going to make sure anyone who wants to hurt her goes down screaming, the smell of gasoline in their nostrils and an axe through their head. Her motto isn't to get revenge; it's simply to get even.
Salander's the answer to girls like Bella Swann or Lexi Gray, the ones who let themselves get pushed around and allow their lives to revolve around men. She's complex, complicated, incredibly intelligent and nobody's b*tch. Buffy the Vampire Slayer looks pitiful next to her.
In short, she's a little bit like my dream girl. And evidently, not just mine, based on the 21 million copies sold of the book.
Long live Lisbeth Salander...the woman who combines femininity, mystery, stubbornness, independence, detective skills and sheer cheek with amazing survival abilities and a wonderful ability to make us readers laugh while she's doing it.