Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ladies of Fiction: Lisbeth Salander

Lisbeth (and Mikael) surrounded
by adoring fans
Lisbeth Salander, a lady?  I hear you cry in confusion.  How does a surly, piercing studded hacker chick deserve to be called a lady?! 

Simple, I reply, Lisbeth possesses the raw power and determination that any lady should be proud to call her own.
One of the most vital points of being a lady is learning not to judge simply by appearances.  Lisbeth may not wear the elegant gowns or comport herself in the manner we tend to associate with a lady, but what she lacks in overt appearance she makes up for in her internal fortitude.  Lisbeth’s life, from the start in the novels, is a harsh one, in which she is branded insane and thrust into the uncaring maw of asylums and foster homes.  She regularly is mistreated and/or outright abused, and generally has her life made a living hell.  It has damaged her, without a doubt.  Her withdrawn personality and spike riddled appearance serve as armor against a world that has proven itself utterly untrustworthy. 
That being said, however, Lisbeth does not lie down and die.  She does not give up.  Every time someone tries to destroy her, she rises again with a vengeance worthy of the Furies themselves (notably, my friends and I have recently introduced the term ‘Lisbeth’ as a unit of measurement for female rage).  Given all the suffering she has been through, Lisbeth could be forgiven for shutting herself off completely from the world.  Instead she takes her gifts and fire-forged determination and uses them to fight against those who would hurt her or others.  In spite of everything, she overcomes her obstacles and, in her own, asocial way, manages to develop friendships and even romantic relationships.  It isn’t easy, and at the end of the novels it is clear that Lisbeth is still in many ways her ever prickly self, but Lisbeth’s determination never wavers through it all. 
Every life is touched by suffering to some degree.  Sometimes that suffering is great, sometimes small, but the exact size or degree aside, it can make us want to shut down, curling in on ourselves against the world.  What we can learn from Lisbeth is how not to do that.  Obviously, we can’t (and in most cases shouldn’t) lash out at the source of our suffering as Lisbeth does, but we equally cannot allow whatever tragedies occur in our lives to bind us, blind us, and shut us off from the world.  It may seem impossible, and in some cases perhaps the trauma really cannot be overcome, but if a person does not try, how can one ever find out?  Better to take a note from Lisbeth and fight against that which seeks to damage us, rather than meekly lying down and allowing it to rule us. 

No comments:

Post a Comment