The Frame: Who are the Real Victims?
From the very onset of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, Stieg Larsson implements an air of uncertainty. However, at first glance the novel may seem to be straightforward, but upon further investigation it is revealed to be even more complex than originally thought, even breaking down the literary fourth wall separating the readers and the characters within the novel.
Larsson uses many techniques to connect characters and his audience, most often through the repetition of new information that may seem to be important. For example, throughout the prologue of the novel, a description of a veteran police officer and an old man, Larsson thrusts us into an investigation with a rush of information such as numbers and cities. At this point, the audience has no context behind the mystery, only specific information. This allows readers to create assumptions that may later lead them down the wrong track.
From this point, Larsson’s next use of repetition throughout the prologue and much of the novel may lead us to believe that he has been playing the audience into a trick. The repetition of the word “frame” throughout the prologue could hold many meanings. Obviously, in the literal and physical sense of the word, there are frames all over the man’s room. However, on a deeper level, Larsson may be changing the definition of a frame from a noun into a verb. Perhaps this repetition is a hint for an expert detective reader that he or she should not always believe or jump to conclusions based on what they see.
It can be argued that Larsson is simply framing this entire novel, simply to mislead both characters within the novel, and those reading the novel. Perhaps Larsson is simply implying that framing others may be a common theme throughout the rest of the novel, or he may even be taking a cinematic definition of a frame, hinting to the audience to pay close attention to each and every frame of the novel. While this analysis may seem fairly strong, certain aspects of the prologue may lead to complications down the road. For example, when describing the police officer’s career, Larsson explains that his ninth murder case went unsolved, and in the old man’s room, the ninth slot in the first row was missing a frame.