independent novel study project (k)

The Da Vinci Code

                                                             A Quick Overview

            The Da Vinci Code is an intelligent and utterly unpredictable thriller of a book in which Robert Langdon is the lead character. The Harvard Symbologist is involved in the investigation of an elderly curator whose life was cut short while inside a museum. The police investigating the case are baffled by a mysterious cipher lying next to the lifeless body. In his investigation of the enigmatic riddle, Langdon uncovers secrets that lead to a trail of clues embodied on the creations of Da Vinci. The Novel has 454 pages but for the purposes of this essay I am going to divide it into 5 sections each containing 90 pages.

In the Bloom’s sketch pyramid the knowledge level is positioned at the bottom while the evaluation level happens to be at the extreme top. As such, these sections are going to structure their questions in similar manner beginning with the knowledge questions and finalizing with those relating to evaluation. The essay shall then culminate in a comparison of the novel and the movie version of the text.

Section One

(1) Name the author of your novel of choice and list some of his/her other works

The author to the Da Vinci Code is Dan Brown an accomplished English best set selling author whose other works include the Deception Point and Angels and Demons.

(2) How do characters in the novel display a twisted side to religion?

This is displayed by the murder of Sister Sandrine Biel. She was a nun that favored the modernization of the church and as such she vehemently was opposed to the oppressive attitude the then regime held towards women. Unfortunately, she loses her life while serving under the priory of Sion to another of the book’s character known as Silas. Silas is an Albino devoted to catholic ways and consumed by the ideals of celibacy and self-punishment. Despite Silas’ religious standing he still took a life while supposedly working within the confines of the laws of the church.

(3) Demonstrate some factors that made reading the novel a pleasant experience

The intense manner in which the ideas of the novel are brought out coupled with the unpredictability of the whole story line made for quit a good read. The flow of the ideas is also very sublime and once you follow the rhythm you just cannot get enough and it makes you want to read on endlessly.

(4) Compare and contrast the personalities of two characters of your choice

My characters of choice are Manuel Aringarosa and Langdon. As Bishop, Aringarosa is passionately conservative to the Catholic ways. This makes him favor the strict rules that it upholds. He holds material things in high regard and has an obsession for power. Langdon, on the other hand, studies religion although he does not profess to any particular faith instead he prefers to operate as an outside observer.

(5) What conclusions can you infer from the old man’s mysterious death?

According to the novel, after the old man had been murdered, his body was made to pose in a manner similar to Da Vinci’s sketch of the Vitruvian Man with mystic messages engraved all over it. This makes me come to the conclusion that this was one of the things that inspired the author while naming his book after Leonardo Da Vinci.

(6) From your reading so far, what thoughts do you have of the book’s effect on religion?

In this text, the author has made reference to the catholic religion and this is evident in the naming of some of his characters and the roles that they assume. Up to this point however, he has not challenged religion and although this may generate mixed views, my thought on it is that it has no influence on one’s commitment towards his or her religion.

Section Two

(1) How would you classify your chosen novel?

The Da Vinci Code is a fictitious, investigative novel based on suspense and its roots are based on religion as well as contemporary thinking.

(2) In your own words explain facts about the novel that you had not discovered in the first section.

In this section, the novel explores deeper into religion and makes bold claims regarding its history key among which being the fact that Jesus had started a family with Mary Magdalene and their descendants settled in France after which they became the Merovingian kings.

(3) How is the Da Vinci Code illustrate un-originality?

The author of the book appears to have made reference to some prior publications for example the 1983 book known as the “Da Vinci Legacy” by Lewis Perdue and novel “Daughter of God” published in the year 2000 by the same author.

(4) Outline some of the criticisms if any that you have towards these texts

My biggest criticism is the fact that the book distorts long held beliefs embodied by Christians worldwide by making non-verifiable assertions based on questionable research.

(5) What impact do you predict that the book has had on its readers?

The book has been written in a captivating manner and the fact that it discusses controversial issues is sure to attract the attention of most people even those who do not fancy reading. The large masses of readers will be affected differently and, while some may choose to disregard the conspiracies created by the novel others may take the reading as gospel truth. However, most will be left with mixed perceptions regarding the claims of the book.

(6) What criteria would you use to assess the success of the book?

I would judge the success of the Da Vinci Code based on the influence that the book has had and the emotions that it has created both among its supporters and its critics. Some of this influence can be witnessed by the books that were released in response such as the “Da Vinci Code Decoded” or the “Truth behind the Da Vinci Code” both of which were published in 2004. The countless imitations and parodies released soon after also indicate that Dan Brown’s book was a resounding success.

Section Three

(1) What is the name of the police officer with whom Langdon investigates the mysteries behind the old man’s death?

Her name is Sophie Neveu who according to the text happens to be the victim’s estranged grand daughter and a descendant from the bloodline of Mary Magdalene and Jesus.

(2) Describe in your own words the reason behind this estrangement

Sophie, in her narrations to Langdon, explains that she once found her grandfather performing pagan rituals in the basement of their country estate home and this is one of the reasons that I associate with this estrangement.

(3) How is the Keystone significant in the concept of this text?

The keystone’s significance is witnessed in the role it plays in the determining of the location of the Holy Grail. According to Sir Leigh Teabing who is Langdon’s friend and an expert Holy Grail researcher, the Grail is a tomb that houses Mary Magdalene’s bones and not a cup as is the idea held by a majority of the Christians.

(4) Outline some of the writing style used by the author    

One of the writing styles used is descriptive writing for example in text “Looking at his surroundings he saw a plush Renaissance bedroom, with Louis XVI furniture, hand frescoed walls and. . .”(Lunn, 20). In addition to the persuasive style, the writer also uses the narrative style of writing virtually throughout the entire book whereby he narrates the story of how the characters went about trying to unravel the different mysteries.

(5) From your readings what are some of the traits you can attribute to Langdon?

His most revealing trait is that he happens to be very smart and this is displayed by the fact that he was able to decipher complex puzzles and he even discovered the location of the Grail though he choose not to share this information. He is also very brave, and this can be witnessed in the fact that besides the fact that he faced threats to his life he did not abandon the investigation.

(6) Do you agree with Sir Leigh Teabing opinion of the Holy Grail?

No I do not, Sir Teabing is quite similar to Langdon on the basis of his religious perceptions whereby he chooses not to commit to any specific religion and as such his bold accusations are based on this fact as opposed to even the slightest shred of evidence that he may possess.

Section Four

(1) In which year was the Da Vinci Code published?

It was published in the year 2003 whereby it was a major success and it sales were only bettered by the novel “Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix” by J.K Rowling (Brown Dan, 45).

(2) Give an interpretation of how the novel embodies real life situations

The Da Vinci Code makes reference to some non-fictional groups. For example, the Priory of Sion is an actual secret society group created in Europe in the year 1099 and some of its members include Sir Isaac Newton and Leonardo da Vinci. The Opus Dei is also a real group devout to Catholic teachings

(3) How are these historical groups an example of controversy?

The fact that he Priory of Sion is a secret group in itself is controversial. Secret groups are usually associated with questionable practices. The Opus Dei group, on the other hand, has been associated with controversial issues such as allegations of brain-washing and “Corporal Mortification” (Brown Dan, 29).

(4) What are some of the similarities and differences between these two groups?

They hold similarities due to the fact that are both groups that profess to know the existence of Jesus. However, while the Opus Dei is keen on living in accordance to Jesus’ teaching, the Priory of Sion is more or less associated with pagan tendencies.

(5) What do you predict was the reason behind Langdon keeping information about the location of the Holy Grail a secret?

This is probably due to the negative repercussions that would occur if such information were to be made available to the public. Another reason was because he did not want the Priory of Sion to find out that he had access to such information because there was likelihood that they would make an attempt at his life.

(6) What is your opinion of these two groups as described by the novel?

I consider their association with secret mysterious practices quite chilling and amusing at the same time, and it makes me wonder what motivates them towards conducting their activities the way they do.

              Section Five

(1) Identify how the Da Vinci Code is a work of art

The reference that the novel makes to well-known artistic creations and, the manner in which it describes architectural buildings and structures makes the work a masterpiece

(2) In your own words describe what makes the book unique

The manner in which the author presents his ideas and, the diction he uses is second to none. The author also identifies groups that were previously thought not to exist such as the Priory of Sion something done by no other publication.

(3) Why are these findings significant?

Their importance is demonstrated by the fact that they can help historians in investigating new aspects of history that had previously been excluded. However, the findings have received their fair share of criticism from a section of the historians.

(4) Other than its captivating nature, what other features make the book popular?

The controversial issues addressed by the book such as claims of a bloodline that originated from Jesus is a major factor that led to the millions of sales that the book was able to amerce and this increased the books popularity.

(5) What ideas can you propose that would make the book more interesting?

The exquisite manner in which the book has been written makes it quite hard to improve on. However, I would propose the inclusion of pictures of the actual works of art in addition to the already elaborate descriptions made in the book. This would really improve the reading experience.

(6) What are your views towards the other publications done by the author?

Dan Brown maintains his high standards of imagery and diction. The works are just as creative as they are controversial and this aspect of his writing is a major factor that has propelled him to the success that he is currently experiencing.

     Compare and contrast the Da Vinci Code novel and the resulting film

The production of the Da Vinci Code film was inspired by successful novel under the same name. However, the movie released in 2006, was not able to replicate the entire theme as was captured in the book. For example, in the plot of the story of the novel, Sophie Neveu is said to have had a brother whom she meets at the Roslyn church. However, the movie does not make any reference to this fact. A more notable difference in the plot can be identified whereby the novel mentions that Langdon happened to be asleep in his hotel room when a police officer seeking his help calls him over the phone. In the movie version however, Langdon is approached by the police while signing autographs after he is done with a speech presentation.

The strategies adopted by the two are also different. For instance, while the novel focused on using precise diction and imagery to attract the attention of its readers, the film adopted the use of an elaborate modern setting that made the viewer attracted to the surroundings in the movie. This fact can be emphasized by the millions of dollars that were invested in shooting the movie in the locations such as England, Scotland and France. The characterization of Langdon is perceived differently by the novel as opposed to what is seen in the film. While the novel describes Langdon as smart, composed gentleman, the film portrays a violent person who does not shy away from an altercation and this is witnessed by the brawl he was engaged in with his friend turned foe Sir Leigh Teabing. In addition, the depth that the novel gave to the description of the architecture and works of art is missing in the movie which tends to focus more on the story line. Nonetheless, the rest of the movie retains its similarity to the text for example; the mood that they both create is one of suspense which leaves you wanting more. Further still, the moral of both stories creates mixed emotions and controversies to all its audience.


The Da Vinci Code is a novel about a Symbologist who is involved in the investigation of a mysterious death at a museum in Paris. In his investigation, he finds a trail of clues that implicate Jesus to establishing a family with Mary Magdalene. Further investigation lead to the discovery of the location of the grail which the lead character chooses not to reveal because of the negative consequences that may follow. The Da Vinci Code film contains several disparities to the original texts. However, the story line remains unaltered.

Work Cited

Brown,Dan, . The Da Vinci Code. Random House $c, n.d. 2010. Print.

Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code. London: Corgi, 2010. Internet resource.

Lunn, Martin. Da Vinci Code Decoded. New York, NY: Disinformation, 2004. Print

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