Heta Pyrhönen

"Putting Out Fire with Gasoline": The Gothic Core of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy

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This essay argues that Stieg Larsson's hugely successful Millennium series is constructed around a Gothic core. This core relies on a structure in which the Gothic terror inflicted by the villains draws forth an anarchic response from the heroine that reflects its cause. The ensuing battle spotlights issues dealing with familial and social authority as well as their justification. The analysis is steered by the ideas Slavoj Žižek has presented about the contemporary socio-cultural situation in the West. Given that most of his examples come from popular culture, his essays foreground moments of Gothic terror in cultural products and political situations. Thus they read like analyses of Gothic cultural circumstances. This perspective fits Larsson's handling of Gothic elements, for they serve the purpose of focusing on snags and hitches in symbolic structures that cover up perverted libidinal energies.


  • Millennium trilogy
  • monster
  • Slavoj Žižek
  • primal father
  • Gothic reversal


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