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Free Study Guide for The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown: BookNotes

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The conflict of a plot is the major problem experienced by the protagonist. In this novel, the major problem for Langdon and Sophie is trying to uncover the clues left by Jacques Saunière.


The protagonist of a story is the main character who traditionally undergoes some sort of change. He or she must usually overcome some opposing force. The balance of female/male, yin/yang, chalice/blade is carried through in Brown’s characters. Sophie and Langdon are both the protagonists of this plot. They work together to uncover the clues about the Grail and Sophie’s family. They could not overcome this challenge separately.


The antagonist of a story is the character that provides an obstacle for the protagonist. The antagonist of this plot is Lee Teabing, or the Teacher.


The climax of a plot is the major turning point that allows the protagonist to resolve the conflict. In this novel the climax occurs when Teabing holds Langdon and Sophie at gunpoint in Westminster Abbey. Langdon and Sophie learn who is behind the murders, refuse to help Teabing, and solve the riddle. Moreover, Fache captures Teabing and Sophie and Langdon are free to find the Grail.


The outcome, resolution, or denouement occurs in the final chapters when Sophie learns the truth about her family and Langdon and Marie discuss why the Grail should never be revealed. The search has ended with satisfying results.


Because this novel is a mystery, much of the plot is revealed in flashbacks and may be confusing. This synopsis will recount the major plot events chronologically.

Five months before the novel begins, Bishop Aringarosa is called to the Vatican and told that the Pope no longer wants the Catholic Church to be associated with Opus Dei (Opus Dei (Latin:"The Work of God") is a controversial Catholic organization founded to foster Christian principles and promote the church). The Church has decided to give Opus Dei twenty-million euro, which the Church had earlier borrowed from Opus Dei. A few weeks later, Aringarosa receives a call from Lee Teabing, who disguises himself as a devout Frenchman and calls himself “the Teacher.” Teabing tells Aringarosa that he knows how to find the Holy Grail. (The Holy Grail - of legend and literature, it is commonly thought to be the cup or chalice used by Christ at the Last Supper. It is said to possess miraculous powers.)

For twenty-million euro--money that Teabing does not need, but uses as a cover--Teabing will share the Grail with Aringarosa who can use it to bargain with the Church. In the meantime Teabing has bugged the homes and offices of prominent Parisians whom he suspects are at the top of the Priory of Sion. When Teabing has enough information he tells Silas, the albino monk, to kill the Grand Master and his sénéchaux. Silas must first demand to know where the keystone is. When he kills the men, they each give him the same incorrect answer.

Meanwhile, Harvard professor, Robert Langdon is in Paris to give a speech about his research. He is woken in the middle of the night by Lieutenant Collet because the Paris police need his help solving the murder of Jacques Saunière. The police captain, Bezu Fache, is actually bringing Langdon to the scene because he thinks Langdon was responsible for the murder. Before he died, Saunière left a riddle on the floor next to his body that included Langdon’s name. At the scene of the crime Langdon meets Sophie Neveu, Saunière’s granddaughter--although the police only know that she works for the department of cryptology. Sophie knows Langdon is being wrongly accused and helps him escape, but not before they discover more clues left by her grandfather.

Langdon and Sophie follow Saunière’s clues to a Swiss Bank where they uncover a cryptex. Without knowing that Teabing is the mastermind behind the murders that occurred that evening, Langdon takes Sophie to his home. Teabing is a religious historian and life-long Grail seeker as well as Langdon’s friend. Both Silas and the police end up at Teabing’s estate, but Rémy, Teabing’s manservant who is in on the plot, helps them escape. Teabing, Sophie, Langdon, Rémy and Silas (as a prisoner) travel to London.

On the way, they are able to open the cryptex, finding only another cryptex inside. Teabing purposely misreads the next clue, leading them to the wrong place. At the Temple Church, Rémy and Silas steal the cryptex and pretend to kidnap Teabing. Teabing is angry with Rémy because he was not supposed to show his face. Teabing murders Rémy by taking advantage of his peanut allergy. Teabing sends Silas to the Opus Dei house, where he is later involved in a shootout with the police and dies. During the shootout Silas accidentally kills Aringarosa, who came to help him.

Sophie and Langdon figure out the real location described in the clue and go to Westminster Abbey where Teabing lures them into a secluded room. Here, Langdon retrieves the cryptex and is able to guess the password. The police, who have figured out Teabing is the murdered, arrive. Langdon and Sophie go to Scotland, where they believe the Grail is. Instead, they find Sophie’s grandmother and brother, whom Sophie believed were dead. Langdon and Sophie agree to meet the next month in Italy after sharing a kiss.

Two days later, back in Paris, Langdon figures out the location of the Grail. The Grail is buried under the inverted pyramid at the Louvre.

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