One of the most popular controversial mystery novels of the Twenty-First Century which invites the reader to investigate and open one’s eyes to symbolism is The Da Vinci Code, written by Dan Brown. The title alone gives the reader insight that they will be exploring one of humanities’ greatest minds, Leonardo Da Vinci and some of his most famous pieces to decode symbols that are hidden within. However, the title alone does not prepare the reader for the intense adventure, suspense and unique symbolism Brown takes the reader on throughout this page turning novel.
Brown introduces the two main characters early, starting the novel’s suspenseful journey in France. Robert Langdon, a Harvard Professor, teaches iconology specializing in religious symbolism. To aide Langdon, an underestimated female, Sophie Neveu, a red haired cryptologist, is also established early on to the reader and Langdon. The two combine their specialties to solve the puzzles set within.
Given Langdon’s background the reader begins to understand his role quickly and why he is chosen. The title of the novel and the introduction of the main characters allow the reader to prepare themselves for what Brown is about to introduce to them; a lesson on history that is neither told nor understood. What captures the reader’s attention and would ignite controversy for years to come is the absolutely brilliant way Brown was able to take famous works, which most people have common knowledge of in some respect or another and completely redirect their thinking of what their “true” meaning was. The multiple mysteries in The Last Supper painting are a prime example of how Brown takes popular Renaissance work and shows the reader hidden clues that are not well known. This redirect in his writing is what makes this story plausible, realistic and so captivating to the reader.
Brown’s extensive and unique use of symbolism is what makes this novel so credible and engulfing. The symbolism presented in Da Vinci’s paintings, historical churches, and even a secret group known as The Priory of Scion, all hold subtle clues and secrets. After examining multiple paintings such as The Last Supper, the reader comes to find that the main characters overlook a small detail that in fact represents the climax of the novel, it is the defining symbol that ties the thesis, the suspense, and all supporting symbolism together: the color red.
By the last page the reader develops an insight never before experienced in the subjects of religion and art history. Concluding The Da Vinci Code, remains controversial and continues to challenge the reader to determine what symbols Da Vinci left are derived from historical truth and which ones remain a mystery. Furthermore, not only does Brown force the reader to question the plausibility behind Da Vinci’s work on religion and art history, but by the end he also encourages the reader to look closer at the characters and locations throughout the novel to see if Brown himself left hidden clues or messages for the reader to decipher.