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Analysis of Dan Brown's Novel Digital Fortress

Categories Computer security, Cyber Security, Literature, Novels

Analysis, Pages 6 (1416 words)



Analysis, Pages 6 (1416 words)


The story transports the reader deep within the most powerful intelligent organization in the world. The National Security Agency is in charge of breaking complexly encrypted international documents. They steal other people’s secrets while protecting their own. The agency works effectively because not many Americans knew their existence. It brings up the issues of privacy that computer users are used to in the digital age. It is in this type of environment where the intriguer could be engaged in espionage through computer crime.

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Susan Fletcher is the head cryptographer of the NSA. Through gender readings, she is the only female, the youngest employee, with an IQ of 170 and a very attractive woman. She is unstereotypical to the surrounding of middle aged men that work under pressure. Susan is characterized extraordinarily to draw the reader’s attention into her dilemma. She enhances the plot with her protective feelings for her fianc�e, Professor David Becker. It entertains the reader with a romantic relationship as well as thrilling actions in the story.

Trevor Strathmore, the NSA’s Deputy Director had the American desire for consumeristic. He had the notion that the NSA could wag other’s information without warning the public. Opposing to his values is the computer programming genius Ensei Tankado. He died in the fight for everyone’s privacy rights. Their different perspectives caused the conflict of the story.

Plot Orientation

When the NSA’s invincible code-breaking machine, TRANSLTR, encounters a mysterious code it cannot break, the agency calls in Susan.

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What she uncovers is that the NSA is being held hostage. Tankado had threatened to make the code available for public use if the NSA didn’t make TRANSLTR’s existence known to the general public. A deadly treat that will cripple the nation’s security, this code has to be broken. Ensei has a secret a partner and Susan is entrusted with the job of finding him/her. Adding to her frustration is that her boss has sent David on a dangerous mission to Spain to retrieve this unbreakable code’s key.

Plot Development

Behind the scenes is murder and forgery happening. Hale, a technician “exited the Sys-Sec with a dreadful face and wounded hands.” In the scene that followed, “a dead employee was found shoved into the power supply.” Readers interpret that Hale was the antagonist. He spoke in a very defensive tone, trying to persuade Susan to go against Strathmore. The cloak and dagger plotlets fitted his purpose to intrigue the NSA. The incident also proved a struggle with obstacles in the culprit’s plan. There is this continuos pattern of showing the context from a perspective. This confusion of who is the culprit is to keep the readers engaged. Read why education is the most powerful weapon

Although introduced with strong positive motives, Strathmore had some similar characteristics with Hale. They are both attracted to Susan and suspiciously had background information about Ensei’s plans for the unbreakable code.

Rising Tension

Susan discovered that there is no unbreakable code. She was caught in the accelerating tempest of secrecy and lies. She was betrayed as she battles to support the agency she believes in. She was vulnerable to sexual assault and suffocation of toxic gas. Finally, she caught Strathmore red-handed. In Spain, David was violently chased by a killer.


The alarming computer screens accentuated the tension at hand. The department of intelligent minds gathered helplessly to figure out the kill-code. With the seconds counting down, Susan strained her calculative mind on Tankado’s chunk of random letters. She thought of the kill-code and hit the key at the nick of time. The password entered, and the US intelligence was saved. The story is matriarchal. It power positions Susan to gain power through intelligence and status. She is the heroin because she shares our society’s common values.


Tankado had tricked the NSA to insert computer worms into TRANSLTR to destroy the machine. Strathmore had faked his identity to sell the key to the code for loads of money. He then put David in the danger of being killed. He thought Susan would turn to him once she got over her lost. In the end, he died of depression of failure.

No matter how well prepared or careful, the culprit is always positioned to be defeated. This is so that readers understand their values are not to be followed. The desire for material accumulation is a similar comment on human nature from various crime stories. It is immoral that the antagonist places material values on a higher level than spiritual values. They had physically hurt or discriminate others for their benefits.


The novel explores the issue of civilian privacy and national security. As technology changed, there are no barriers around information. Global corporations used to gather for meetings, now they teleconference. It is impossible to keep the vast network of cables and satellites secure.

Privacy will not survive the digital revolution. “Society is experiencing exponential technology growth.” This means that most of our daily activities such as paying taxes and shopping are conducted through home computers. The obvious moral issue is whether or not we want to live in an exposed society. An NSA security staff watched the financial manager having a sexual affair from a hidden camera. She warned him, “Big Brother is peering in from all sides.” From the conclusion of similar scenarios, exposure could make us a more moral society. If we are more visible to our peers, our behaviour as a society will undoubtedly improve. The financial manager might just go back to work.

Tankado had asked, “Who will guard the guards?” Despite the most secure facilities to operate, the director is capable of detecting illegal dealings as well as intriguing others. It is the question of whether or not we trust the people we have elected to watch over us.

The immediate concerns of interference are those of abuse and misinterpretations. Susan accidentally saw Strathmore’s message: “I sent David to Spain.” She wondered if her boss trusted him on the security matter or was planning to kill him. The results can be disastrous.

The writer had suggested how to prepare ourselves for the end of privacy. It is to ensure that it is bilateral. If the NSA plans to snoop information about us, we should be warned before our documents enter their machines. Overall, the writer is saying “We are watching you.”

Target Reader

The cinematic style of writing uses filmic techniques to engage readers in a Blockbuster. From the underground hallways of power, to the skyscrapers of Tokyo, to the towering cathedrals of Spain, the story unfolds in a desperate race. The tone of the story was suspenseful and had sophisticated fear. The composition of the story targets young adult readers.


  • David’s encounter of many stereotypical characters shaped the way readers think about the Spanish society. The obese German and his red haired escort represented that tourists came to Seville for their prostitutes. There was a Canadian tourist who criticized the police and hospital services. The stereotype of a punk girl represented the poorly behaved young people.
  • Although Seville is a tourist attraction, most citizens are working class people. The Spanish government have spent most of their money in the tourism industry. Their lack of funds for public services and facilities had resulted in a gang warfare area.
  • The writer is showing a contrast of how society works between the NSA and Seville.
  • The NSA incident was a battle for survival. It is a crucial bid to destroy a creation of inconceivable genius. Digital Fortress threatens to obliterate the balance of power.
  • The people are competitive to gain power. This is why the NSA is extremely controlled with security restrictions.

However, a society can be totally different if there is no power for domination. Young people do not have education, and the general public do not have social security or health services. The nation’s poor living standard influences people to interact freely. The society is vulnerable to violence, abuses and murders. David had to survive the road chase and the use of weapons by the killer.

The distinction between the classes, however, comes down to the same morals in the centre of conflict. The central character had to co-operate with the way society is to achieve his goal. David had to tolerate with the arrogant punk because it is by doing so that his involvement is more secure. People cannot interact by showing prejudice against members of the lower class. What degrades us is intolerance and prejudice.

Cite this essay

Analysis of Dan Brown’s Novel Digital Fortress. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/analysis-of-dan-browns-novel-digital-fortress-essay

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