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

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OVERALL ANALYSIS


CHARACTER ANALYSIS


Robert Langdon

Keeping with the idea of male and female as a complimentary, essential pairing, Brown provides us with two protagonists. Robert Langdon is the male protagonist. He is a Harvard professor who finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery. As protagonist, Langdon must overcome the novel’s major obstacle, which is to solve the clues left by Saunière. Solving these clues means something different to Langdon than it does to Sophie; however, their purposes are complimentary. For Langdon, solving the clues will hopefully answer his questions about the Grail--a life long enigma for him.

Langdon’s efforts are stalled by the novel’s antagonist, Sir Lee Teabing, who intends to use him to find the Grail and dispose of him. For Langdon the resolution comes when Marie tells him the Grail documents were never meant to be released. Langdon’s belief that the Sangreal documents should not be used to destroy religious faith is confirmed. In the Epilogue Langdon does find the Grail, but because of the outcome of his quest he is satisfied to know where it is. He does not have to obtain the documents.

Sophie Neveu

Sophie is the female protagonist. She, like Langdon, seeks to solve the clues left by her grandfather. Unlike Langdon, Sophie has just learned about the folklore surrounding the Grail. Sophie hopes that in solving the clues she will learn the truth about her family--an enigma that has followed her throughout her life. Antagonist, Lee Teabing, also acts as a deterring force for Sophie. In keeping her from the Grail, he keeps her from her family, who are still alive.

Sophie’s resolution comes at Rosslyn Chapel, where she is reunited with her grandmother and brother. Neither Sophie nor Langdon could be successful on the quest without the other. Sophie supplies necessary information about her grandfather’s past as well as cryptology; Langdon supplies necessary information about symbology and Grail history. Together, female/male, yin/yang, chalice/blade, they are able to achieve their goal. The reader should note that Teabing, who worked only with men, was not successful.


PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS

The Da Vinci Code is a suspenseful mystery, which encompasses a thrilling quest for the Holy Grail. The plot is imbued with as much historical truth as conjecture.


Exposition

The exposition of a plot is the place where the reader is introduced to the main characters and any important information to understand what is presently occurring. The first twenty chapters of this novel are its exposition. In these chapters, we meet the major characters and learn their backgrounds. We also learn the major conflict Sophie and Langdon will confront is uncovering the clues left by Saunière about the Grail.

Rising Action

Rising action is the action that will lead to the climax (or the major turning point in the plot). In this novel the rising action is everything that happens before the police capture Teabing. This includes eluding the police, traveling to London, Teabing’s “kidnapping,” and uncovering the passwords.

Climax

The climax is the point in the plot where something happens to change the course of action of the main character. It is a decisive moment that will determine the outcome of the plot. The climax occurs when the police apprehend Teabing at Westminster Abbey. This is the major turning point in the plot because it allows Sophie and Langdon to resolve their major conflict without Teabing or the police interfering.

Outcome

The outcome of the plot is when resolution occurs. The outcome in this novel occurs at Marie’s house. Here Sophie and Langdon have successfully answered most of Saunière’s riddles. Sophie learns the truth about her family and Langdon is content to let the mystery of the Grail rest.


THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS


Mystery and Wonderment That Serve Our Souls

The major theme of this novel is expressed in a quotation by Marie Chauvel in the resolution. In this statement Marie refers to the mystery and wonderment of the Grail that serve people’s souls. However, this message is also applied to religion throughout the novel. In this conversation, Marie explains that the Priory never intended to release the Sangreal documents. Marie discusses how men are driven by the mystery of the Grail.

Similarly, Langdon expresses earlier to Sophie that he does not believe the Grail documents should be released to prove religious beliefs wrong because many people are driven by faith in their religion. The real facts do not matter. Langdon’s Mickey Mouse watch symbolizes this idea. For example, people tell their children fairytales because of the mystery and wonderment it produces for them. Langdon believes religion is like a fairytale; Marie believes the Grail is like a fairytale. Langdon believes these fairytales (or metaphors) only become dangerous when we start believing them literally.


POINT OF VIEW

Third person, omniscient. The story is told by an anonymous narrator who has access to the thoughts of the characters.


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