The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest Symbols, Allegory and Motifs
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The symbolic injury
The novel's action is about Lisbeth's symbolic journey to healing after her encounter with her women-torturing, kidnapping, evil father who shoots her in the head and leaves her to die. Her injury symbolizes the damage done to her person by the patriarchy (since it was literally her father her pulled the trigger). Her survival is difficult, and she has to depend on others, because she cannot fend for herself.
The officers of the law accuse the victim of inciting her own victimization. This is a symbolic reminder of the problem of victim blaming. Lisbeth struggles to convince people of her innocence, and her desire for privacy and peace makes her even more vulnerable to their suspicions. She relies on other people to help her. They try to prove her innocence, but they're up against the problem of assumption and closed-mindedness.
Shame and the name-change
Zala changed his name to protect his identity after his crimes against his daughter, but she is on an inverse journey, accepting that her father did such a thing to her. She accepts the shame of his identity, but he rejects it, evading responsibility. Although he changes his name, everyone still knows who he is and what he is guilty for. The name change was purely symbolic. This shows that he doesn't take responsibility for his actions, but still does what he wants to.
The motif of death
There is a lot of death in the story. Lisbeth almost dies from a gunshot wound to the head, from the operation to remove it, and from the accusations against her of attempted murder. There is a triple homicide, and then when Zala finally dies, Gullberg executes him and then kills himself. The complex relationships between the characters and death are a portrait of death's universality. The stakes of the injustices described in the symbolism of the book are heightened by death.
Ultimately, Lisbeth's story is of ultimate priority. She writes her autobiography and publishes it, knowing that it will incriminate a lot of people. She is able to put her own name on her story and publish it. This is a symbol for acceptance and pride, because she takes responsibility for her own story. Her story is shown as a powerful tool for change, because she serves as a whistle-blower against an evil organization with too much power.
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