de Bruin, Karen

Advisor Department

Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures




“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim” — Nora Ephron

Literature has always provided an outlet for writers to express their commentary on society tracing from Shakespeare’s plays in the 1600’s to Jane Austen’s classic novels to the modern literary narrative. These writings are often more than just tales to entertain a crowd or a reader; they create dynamic characters that call into question the standards and expectations that society deems acceptable.

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy has created an iconic and dynamic character that resists and challenges what it means to be a woman in terms of society’s gender roles and hetero-normative expectations. Lisbeth Salander challenges these standards by refusing to submit to the labels and expectations that are placed upon her by society, the government and the men in her life. She is the girl with the dragon tattoo who is able to create her own freedom even while her own rights are constantly infringed upon. She is unapologetic and unwavering in her beliefs; she is a completely autonomous and empowered female character that every woman can look to for inspiration and motivation to be whoever they want to be regardless of any predetermined standards or expectations

What does it mean to ‘be a woman’? The answer is quite simple; a woman is to illustrate herself as she sees fit by constructing an individual mold that fits her and her alone.