Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.

Ancient and Foreign Languages

Many of the secrets that lie below the surface of the narrative are concealed from would-be interpreters only by language. Saunière leaves anagrams for Sophie to decipher. Langdon and Teabing use the Hebrew alphabet to figure out a clue. Sophie helps Langdon and Teabing use a mirror to read the backward writing that Da Vinci favored. In The Da Vinci Code, language reminds us that secrets exist everywhere and sometimes need just a little interpretation.


Brown uses descriptions of works of fine art to prove that art can tell stories that history tends to obscure. These works of art include Da Vinci’s Last Supper, Madonna of the Rocks, and Mona Lisa, which hide symbols of goddess worship and the story of the Magdalene; the Church of Saint-Sulpice, which still contains an obelisk, a sign of pagan worship; and tarot cards, which hide themes of pagan mythology. These art objects are constantly viewed by people who see them without seeing their hidden meanings.


Sexist men in The Da Vinci Code are used as a counterpoint to the religions that celebrates the divine feminine. Fache’s inability to accept women in the workplace is one instance of this bias. Another exists in Opus Dei’s female devotees, who are not allowed to be in proximity to men and must do their cleaning and other dirty work for no pay. When Teabing reveals himself as the creator of the plot and scorns Sophie as unworthy of possessing the secret of the Grail, his sexism is a sign of his fundamental sourness. In The Da Vinci Code, sexist characters are always suspect.