On the Millennium Trilogy

Lisbeth Salander and the "Truth" about Goths

By Lynne McDonald-Smith, Robert Young, Ph.D.

One of the first things that we learn about Lisbeth Salander is that she stands out. Her dress and appearance are visually striking, and Stieg Larsson provides several vivid descriptions of her in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in the Millennium series. For example, we learn early on that Lisbeth “dressed for the day in a black T-shirt with a picture on it of E.T. with fangs, and the words I AM ALSO AN ALIEN. She had on a black skirt that was frayed at the hem, a worn-out black, mid-length leather jacket, rivet belt, heavy Doc Marten boots, and horizontally striped, green-and-red knee socks. She had put on makeup in a color scheme that indicated she might be colorblind.” Despite her unique appearance, Lisbeth remains physically appealing: “She wore black lipstick, and in spite of the tattoos and the pierced nose and eyebrows she was . . . well . . . attractive.”

Given this description, Salander appears to be a Goth–at least that’s how the media and most book and film reviews portray her, although this is never explicitly confirmed in any of the books.1 Even so, we can agree she belongs to at least one of the various tribes of alternative subcultures, be that generic alternative rock, punk, Goth, industrial, or something similar. There are real (sometimes subtle, sometimes distinct) differences between even these closely aligned youth cultures, and the uninitiated may have difficulty in distinguishing between them. This by itself is an illustration of our own psychological naivet© in  …

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