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Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors
used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Sophie Neveu’s red hair, mentioned at the beginning of
the text, foreshadows her divine blood. When Langdon first sees
Sophie, he calls her hair “burgundy” and thinks that her attractiveness
lies in her confidence and health. He compares her favorably to
the blonde girls at Harvard over whom his students lust. Later,
at Teabing’s chateau, Teabing shows Sophie that Mary Magdalene is
depicted with red hair in The Last Supper. Langdon
also thinks the mermaid Ariel’s red hair in The Little Mermaid is
evidence that Disney intended his movie to be an allegory of the
story of Magdalene. By the end of the novel, when Sophie’s brother
gives a tour of the Rosslyn Chapel and his hair is described as
“strawberry blonde,” we understand that Sophie and her brother are
of Mary Magdalene’s bloodline.
Blood stands for truth and enlightenment in The
Da Vinci Code. Saunière draws a pentacle—for him, a symbol
of the Church’s intention to cover up the true history of the world—on
his stomach in his own blood. Sophie realizes that her grandfather
has left a message for her on the Mona Lisa because
a drop of his blood remains on the floor. Teabing spies a trickle
of blood on Silas’s leg, which he takes to mean that Silas has a
cilice, a barbed punishment belt, on his thigh, and disables him
by hitting him there. Silas himself had thought of blood as truth
in a different way—for Silas, blood means cleansing of impurities.
And at the very end of the novel, the discovery of the blood of
Mary Magdalene running through Sophie and her brother’s veins proves
that the story of the Grail is true.
In a novel that spends a great deal of time interpreting
ancient symbols like the pentacle, the chalice, and the rose, the
cell phone might seem like an incongruous modern interloper. But
the cell phone symbolizes the fact that in the modern world, secrets
are both harder and easier to keep. Teabing conceals his identity
as the Teacher by using cell phones to communicate with his unknowing
allies. In one instance, he even speaks to Silas from the back of
the limousine while Silas is in the front, concealing his identity
while only feet away. At the same time, however, the characters
are often worried about their cell phone use being traced. Fache,
for example, at one point figures out that Sophie has tipped Langdon
off by looking up her phone number, which is stored in his cell
phone, and finding that it matches the number Sophie gave Langdon
as the American Embassy’s number.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Da Vinci Code!