By the spring of , the book had sold over twenty five million copies in more than forty languages. This project began as a first Year Seminar at Middlebury College where sixteen students used the work as the starting point for a seminar that focused on research methods and the preparation of scholarly responses — an attempt to identify and distinguish fact from fiction.
The annotations that follow were just one piece of the scholarly product, accompanied by research papers and oral presentations that are also appendixed. I was, however, interested as much in the process of scholarly inquiry as in the product.
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What follows is a set of annotations organized by chapter. They contain more information than some will need, but they were and are intended to provide for the widest possible audience, including those for whom English is not their first language, a comprehensive guide to the novel. The choices of which items to annotate were left essentially to the students themselves.
What does this mean? In what ways is this simile effective? Why is the Rose Line an important feature? How do you imagine Silas justifies these actions to himself? What is meant by this statement?
The Da Vinci Code
What do you think Sophie observes here? How do the different designs differ in a symbolic sense? Why could this be important? What sort of relationship did they have with the Knights Templar? Do you think he has a hidden agenda? Describe its characteristics and origin. Do you think it is? What does Teabing mean by this statement? How does it connect to other symbols mentioned thus far?
What exactly is Langdon referring to here? How does her existence, according to Langdon and Teabing, challenge traditional Christian doctrine? What could be a reason for the author including this reference? Why does Teabing think this? Where do they wish to go and why? Why does Silas feel this way? Is it surprising to see Silas in such a disadvantageous position? What do you believe Sophie should do?
Why would the author include the actual text here? Why does it matter in this context?
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How does the author establish this mood? What is it and why is it important? What does this reveal about his character? Construct your own theories. What do you think they should do? Support your argument with specific reasons. Do you believe Langdon cares enough about Teabing and Sophie to go forward with this threat? What are the implications of this? Why is this revelation important? Was this expected or unexpected?
He knew he had been betrayed, but by whom? Do you feel sympathy for Silas? Does his actual identity surprise you? Are his actions justified? Does this redeem his character?
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Sophie felt even more lost now. What are the larger implications of these new revelations about the Grail? How could they challenge existing institutions and religious understandings? Perform your own research and locate several different texts that explore the meaning and significance of the Grail. Share your findings with the class. According to the text, which factions are primarily behind this devaluing of the sacred feminine, and why do these groups perceive it as a threat?
While researching the historical significance of these symbols, create or locate digital representations of them a Google Image search could locate images, and http: Which symbols did you choose to locate? How old are these symbols? What sort of meanings do they have? Have the meanings changed throughout time? Consider the many female characters in the book and examine how both the reader and other characters are blind to their true identities and capabilities.
Which female characters are undervalued? Which aspects of their identities are concealed? Which preconceived notions conceal them? Unveil your findings to the class through an oral presentation. Through your own symbologist lens, examine several mainstream films, Disney-produced or otherwise, and identify allusions and metaphors related to the sacred feminine.
Locate several specific film clips that you can show and discuss with your classmates. Also, in what ways could she be considered a heroine?
SparkNotes: The Da Vinci Code: Key Facts
Examine the appearances, both literal and figurative, of blood in the text. Use a simple T-Chart located here: What are other important symbols or patterns, consisting of letters or numbers, outside of the text that you can identify and analyze? Write a short, coherent essay unpacking these questions. Consider this statement and access the following resource: Be prepared to present your artwork to the class.
Choose specific examples and explain. These include character types, literal symbols, situations, and patterns. Search for evidence of several archetypes such as the hero, the villain, the mother figure, or the quest in The Da Vinci Code. What evidence can you find of their existence? Share your findings with your classmates. What are these concepts? Why are they important both in the novel and in the world? When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books—books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
Use a graphic organizer such as a Describing Wheel http: What purposes do these rituals and practices have? While drawing on applicable passages from the text, design a website for your chosen organization that reports on its central mission, details its history, provides information about related characters in the novel, and includes other pertinent information. Each website must contain text, images, and video. Google Sites all Google resources mentioned in this guide are available with a free Google account , http: According to the text, how did the Priory, and specific members such as Leonardo da Vinci, promote the sacred feminine and push back against patriarchal Christianity?
Cite specific passages as you formulate your response. Compare and contrast the religious viewpoints of these different characters and organizations. Analyze how it is portrayed in the book and how groups such as Opus Dei view and utilize it in reality. Note that many of these can be used in either individual or grouped configurations. Also, while many of the activities here are primarily designed for use after students finish the book, several activities can be used during reading as well.