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.