Langdon, the novel’s protagonist, anchors the story. He is likable, capable, and goodhearted. Langdon is trustworthy, as is Sophie, his female counterpart and love interest. This trustworthiness makes him stand out in a narrative in which the author casts doubt on the motivations of every major character except Langdon and Sophie. In the novel’s many moments of uncertainty, Langdon’s presence is consistently reassuring.
Although he is seen as a sex symbol in the academic world, Langdon is clumsy and inept with guns and weapons and lacks resolve when it comes to planning and executing action. He would rather think about codes and symbols than figure out how to escape the Louvre under the eyes of policemen. For this reason, he is balanced well by Sophie, who transforms his intellectual abilities into survival skills that are applicable to real life.
Neveu’s presence in the novel embodies the Chinese idea of yin and yang, or two complementary forces that work together in harmony. From Langdon and Teabing, Sophie learns that pagan religions and the Priory valued balance between male and female. Sophie and Langdon form the male and female halves of a single protagonist, and their goals never diverge. In this way, they echo Teabing’s and Langdon’s ideas about the partnership of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. In their view, the male and the female worked together toward a goal, without the female being subordinate to the male in any way.
Both Sophie and Langdon, like the Mona Lisa, exhibit male and female traits: for example, Langdon’s headiness is balanced by Sophie’s real world know-how. Sophie is quick-witted, agile, devious when she needs to be, and physically assertive, as when she helps to disable Silas in the chateau. But at the same time, she is caring and compassionate. She feels the loss of her family deeply and mourns the death of her grandfather. Both brilliant and sexually attractive, Sophie combines a masculine toughness with typically feminine qualities.
Initially, Teabing is a welcome benefactor for Sophie and Langdon. His estate, Château Villette, with its gorgeous sitting room and enormous, book-lined study, seems to be an appealing embodiment of its owner. Teabing supplies much-needed comic relief, and he banters with his manservant and with Sophie as if he were a rich and dotty old uncle. His Land Rover and the bribes he gives to his pilot at the airfield in France help Sophie and Langdon escape from the police.
Soon enough, though, Brown reveals that Teabing is a murderer. After his true identity is known, Teabing turns into a living example of the way wealth can corrupt. Teabing, who has always lived a privileged life, convinces himself that his money entitles him to the knowledge of the Grail’s location. His ballroom-turned-study, which at first seems charmingly cluttered, begins to look like the crazy lair of a serial killer. His jokes turn from entertaining to manipulative. And his habit of throwing money around, bribing people in order to ensure the group’s safe passage out of France, seems self-serving.
Teabing is willing to go to any lengths to get what he wants, no matter who he hurts along the way. In some sense, his desire to expose the truth about the Grail can be seen as noble. But by the end of the novel, it is clear that he is really out to satisfy his own perverse obsession, not to find truth.