On the Millennium Trilogy

The Body Speaks Louder Than Words

What Is Lisbeth Salander Saying?
By Rachel Rodgers, Ph.D., T. H. Eric Bui, Ph.D.

In Western societies, and particularly among women, physical appearance is a central tenet of identity. Indeed, physical appearance is the first information we signal to others about ourselves. Hairstyle, clothes, makeup, and, of course, body art all contribute to tell other people who we are. Furthermore, as attractiveness is one of the most socially valued attributes, the way we perceive our body (our body image) is also linked to our self-esteem and mood.1 In line with this, individuals who make choices about their appearance that do not adhere to what is socially accepted or considered attractive appear deviant or marginal. This is the case for multiple piercings and tattoos.

Throughout the Millennium trilogy, Lisbeth Salander speaks aloud remarkably little. She rarely initiates a conversation of her own accord or volunteers any information about herself. Furthermore, she very rarely defends herself when being criticized or accused of something and often becomes sullenly silent. This happens, for example, at school when she gets into an argument with a teacher over the correct answer to a problem and then later when in St. Stefan’s clinic she pledges to never talk to a psychiatrist again after her thirteenth birthday. Her ensuing refusal to talk to authorities stems from her perception that speaking is ineffective, thanks to her failed attempt to explain her version of the attack on her father. Having talked to police officers, social workers, and hospital staff, she concludes that talking to authorities is ineffective and that her voice will never be heard.  …

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