Although it doesn’t have the most convincing plotline, I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy with extreme excitement by the pool this summer. Lazy adults chatting while hyper active kids splash pool toys through brightly blue (probably urine infested) waters played the soundtrack to my intensity as I poured over Liz Salander’s story of abuse, mistrust, revenge, strength and computer hacking skills.
I am not a typical mystery/thriller novel reader; however, I do admit to watching Criminal Minds, Law & Order (primarily SVU) and any CSI episode with addict like fanaticism as I procrastinate an important project. Therefore, my love for the simple plotline of a complex female character and misogynistic killers who reveal their evil motives just before – but not successfully – killing their victims is understandable. My analysis of the Dragon Tattoo series is not about narrative or critical acclaim (although Daniel Craig always gets my acclaim). Instead, I am more interested in author Stieg Larsson’s projection of complex female characters throughout the series. From the petite but fierce Lisbeth, to the beautiful and powerful Erika Berger, to the physical and feminine Monica Figuerola, and even the triumphant defense lawyer Annika, Larsson displays multiple forms of female strength that defy the traditional role of women.
In the final book, Larsson begins each part with a piece of history about women of war – their hidden stories and non-traditional methods. I was fascinated by his diverse portrayals of the complexity and power women possess while remaining unique, vulnerable and compassionate.
While Larsson is no biblical author, I find myself comparing his lengthy tale (a triple volume set containing 2069 pages total) of female conquest with David’s story throughout 1 and 2 Samuel. Why does the Christian church idolize a man who kills and abuses others but quickly dismiss the women throughout the narrative? What of David’s silent mother? What about mournful Bathsheba, seduced (or raped) by the king and left a widow? What about the witch of Endor who predicts the defeat of Saul and rise of David?
Larsson is correct in his introduction stating women are silenced throughout history:
An estimated 600 women served during the American Civil War. They had signed up disguised as men. Hollywood has missed a significant chapter of cultural hsitory here - or is this history ideologically too difficult to deal with? Historians have often struggled to deal with women who do not respect gender distinctions.
How does our current understanding female power influence our reading of the bible or the biblical silence concerning female characters?