Throughout “The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo”, all of the characters are competing to discover the unknown, to unearth the hidden mysteries. As Salander says “people always have secrets. It’s just a matter of finding out what they are”(138).
Salander’s job and hobby as a hacker revolves around finding all available information about the people she is investigating. When uncovering details about someone, she goes to all extremes including illegal practices such as breaking into other people’s property. She enjoys “digging into the lives of others”(363) and “loved hunting skeletons”(297) or the secrets people attempt to hide.
Mikael Blomkvist’s has his own share of exposing other’s lies and secrets. As a journalist he worked towards writing an article about the corruption within the Wennerstrom Company. After this, he begins to investigate the disappearance of Harriet Vanger by the request of Henrik Vanger.
In addition to these protagonists, Martin Vanger possesses a strong and creepy obsession to know every last detail about his victims. The Vanger family does not hestitate in discovering the truth to why Mikael is snooping into family history. Bjurman also pries into Salander’s life. Harriet searches for the truth behind a series of murders and attempts to tell Henrik the truth about Martin. All of these characters including Salander and Mikael use the information they gather about others to their advantage and believe that “knowledge is power”(361).
Although most of these characters spend their time and energy searching for truth and bringing the unknown into light, they are not so happy when their secrets are being told and are public. Salander is taken off guard when Mikael barges into her home and has a distain for Bjurman and his evasion of privacy. Mikael becomes angry when he finds that Salander has been on his laptop. Wennerstrom sues Mikael for supposedly writing false information about a secret investment. Martin and Bjurman lose all hope in their lives when their secrets of sadism are going to be publicized. Harriet has to go into hiding before she is able to tell the truth about her brother to Henrik. In addition to this, the pastor comments that Harriet was looking for “the forbidden truth”(442), making it appear that seeking for knowledge is not always positive.
These reactions create the question, how can everyone be searching for the truth of others yet still want to hide their own lies and secrets? As Salander says, “all people have things they consider to be private and that they don’t go around airing in public”(61). Larsson explores the effect that information, public or private, has on people. As people search to known everything about one another and hide their own secrets, it becomes evident that truth and the unknown is key to control and power. Unveiling secrets is not just about holding more knowledge over another but that this knowledge gives a person the ability to outsmart and hold control. Stieg Larsson suggests that each of the characters need to find a balance in hiding their own secrets and seeking out others to remain in power.