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SYMBOLISM / MOTIFS
This novel is filled with symbols that are clearly explained throughout--such as how the chalice is symbolic of woman and the blade is symbolic of man. However, there are a few more ambiguous literary symbols which Brown uses as furthering forces in character and plot development.
Langdon’s Mickey Mouse Watch
Throughout the novel Langdon wears his Mickey Mouse watch, which reminds him of how his interest in symbology began. Langdon also talks to his classes about how remnants of the Grail story are found in Disney stories. Disney, symbolized in the Mickey watch, exemplifies the importance of magic and imagination for people. Disney World, according to Langdon, is built upon make-believe, infused with bits of hidden truth. These fantastical stories are not unlike Grail mythology or religion (as it is portrayed in the novel). Disney, like Grail stories and like religion, is not necessarily true but it gives people something much more important--mystery and wonderment.
The knight that sits in Saunière’s office is an ironic symbol: knights are supposed to protect the Grail but this knight, which Teabing has bugged, betrays the Grail. This “betrayal” illustrates two interrelated points--1. all knights cannot be trusted, 2. things are not always what they seem. These points relate directly to Teabing. When Langdon tells Sophie about Teabing, he remarks there is no one better to help them on the quest for the Grail than a knight. Teabing is both a “bad” knight and something other than what he seems. Like the knight in the office, he betrays the Grail and is much more dangerous than he appears.
Leonardo da Vinci
We learn that the truth of the Grail has been preserved in many places throughout history; however, this novel focuses most closely on Da Vinci’s transmission of Grail stories. Da Vinci is portrayed as a misunderstood genius. Langdon defends him against people’s associations with him and the dark arts. People’s perceptions of Da Vinci are congruent with their misunderstandings of pagan rites and the sacred feminine. These misconceptions show how successful the Church has been in usurping the power ancient beliefs were once afforded.
Fache is known as “the bull”; however, it should also be noted that “fache” means anger in French. Whenever an author picks a name for a character that has an alternate meaning, the reader should consider its implications. In this case “fache” seems to be a direct characterization of Fache. He frequently yells at the other characters and is certainly stern.