Dan Brown prepares the reader for the rest of the novel, “The Da Vinci Code” with a puzzling yet interesting prologue. “The Da Vinci Code” is the fourth novel by Dan Brown, a famous author who released his first novel “Digital Fortress” in 1998. I chose to read “The Da Vinci Code” because it has received excellent reviews and it explains philosophical concepts from the time of Jesus Christ. I was drawn to “The Da Vinci Code” as a film was released in 2006 and the first two novels had been excellent. I was attracted to the novel because the title gives a spooky and suspicious sense of atmosphere. The series is based in the modern world and the novels are based on code- breaking skills giving them a thriller nature. In this essay, I am going to be explaining anything confusing or puzzling that crop up in the prologue and how this may affect the reader’s sense of curiosity. Unlike the other novels, “The Da Vinci Code” begins with an action scene, leaving the reader curious.
The title “The Da Vinci Code” indicates another code- breaking plot however it leaves readers wondering, what code is to be solved? The word “code” is quite vague and could imply there is a secret waiting to be unleashed. Dan Brown added the phrase “The Da Vinci” before “code”. “Da Vinci” is short for Leonardo da Vinci, a great painter, inventor and writer. A reader will be aware of this because Da Vinci is famous. Even though Da Vinci was regarded as a skilled engineer, none of his works linked to puzzles and codes. The title therefore leaves the reader in a puzzling state of confusion and the front cover shows a small portion of “The Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci, confirming that Da Vinci is linked to the novel. Dan Brown has cleverly constructed the title and cover, leaving readers debating over the plot, causing them to feel curious, drawing readers in to read the book.
The first sentence appeals to our sense of sight and causes readers to feel curious. The sentence reads: “Renowned curator Jacques Sauniere staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery”. The sentence introduces a character, Curator Jacques Sauniere and this causes the reader to question, who is Jacques Sauniere? Why is he the curator of the museum and how is he famous? The second part of the sentence involves the curator staggering through a vaulted archway.
This implies many possibilities: The curator could have simply tripped or he might have even been chased. This leaves readers in suspense because they would want to know who is chasing the curator and why. The word “staggered” stresses a sense of trouble. This is quite powerful because it is immediate and causes the reader to feel startled. The sentence as a whole allows readers to visualise the setting and confirms that the curator is in a museum; however the gallery of the museum was described as grand, indicating that the museum is well known, making readers wonder if there is trouble in the building. And if so, why have security guards not arrived at the scene.
Being a prologue, Dan Brown does not introduce many of the main characters until the 1st chapter, however two characters are introduced. Brown introduces the Museum’s curator Jacques Sauniere. He is depicted to be famous, because he was described as “renowned” and readers visualise Sauniere to be weak and helpless as he found it extremely difficult to heave a masterpiece. However, we assume Sauniere is part of a hidden organization, possessing a truth: “If I die, the truth will be lost for ever”. The quote evokes readers’ sense of curiosity, therefore causing them to wonder: Who is Sauniere? The second character, Albino, is after the curator and eventually captures him.
“He was broad and tall, with ghost- pale skin and thinning white hair. His irises were pink with dark red pupils”, Albino is pictured as a dark, suspicious character causing readers to be inquisitive. Readers feel sorry for the curator when he is shot by Albino for lying about not knowing the secret. Albino leaves quickly, illustrating that he will return in the novel. Brown was correct in leaving out the many of the main characters because the prologue was there to leave readers in suspense and to create background information for the novel, preparing the reader.
Dan Brown allows the reader to know that the book belongs to the thriller genre: “As he had anticipated, a thundering iron gate fell nearby, barricading the entrance to the suite. The parquet floor shook. Far off, an alarm began to ring.” The sentence uses a number of powerful words, attracting the reader. “Thundering Iron Gate fell nearby” allow readers to visualise a gigantic, grand security system. From the phrase, you want to know why the Iron Gate fell and so this starts to quiz readers. “Barricading” stresses a sense of foreboding because readers don’t understand why the curator would want to lock himself in a museum, leaving readers in suspense as they wonder if there is a purpose behind his action, contributing to the hunch that he could be in danger.
“Far off, an alarm began to ring” give readers the impression that there is a robbery occurring although the assumption is not true. Other ways in which the author allows the reader to identify that the book belongs to the thriller genre is using words such as “thundering”, “roared” and “wincing”. These words all suggest a thriller due to the fact that it allows readers to visualise the scene, appealing to their sense of sight. “The Gun roared” is portrays a murder scene confirming the genre however, readers develop an idea that a mystery is being conjured. In the prologue, we are told of a mysterious character however the description is quite vague adding to the mystery. All of the quotes and words above allow readers to know the genre of the book, preparing them for the rest of the novel.
Throughout the prologue, readers will feel confused. Immediately introducing the curator, Jacques Sauniere, the prologue bemuses readers, causing them to wonder and question. However, Brown introduces Sauniere describing him as “renowned”. The word is powerful in many contexts: It allows readers to know that he is famous but more importantly, it makes them feel that they already know the curator, allowing questions to leave readers’ minds. Albino, the ghostly figure in the prologue causes reader to be curious because they do not know who he is and why he is after the curator. This is considered effective because it creates suspense for readers. Albino mentions something: “Now tell me where it is”. The phrase causes reader to guess what this particular item is, perplexing readers as well as leaving them in suspense.
Calling the item “it” gives it importance and classifies that the thing is special. Towards the end of the prologue, we are told that the item is actually a secret, intriguing readers, as they want to know what the secret holds. Although there are many other phrases and sentences that leave you anxious, you are still given a complete plot of the prologue because the setting is well-described. The author did this intently because it triggers readers’ imagination. Confusion is effective in the introduction because the author has time to pick up on topics which are necessary at a particular point and then build up on them when they are needed later, creating suspense, preparing readers for the rest of the novel.
The Last two sentences of the prologue are very powerful, concluding the prologue efficiently: “Wincing in pain, he summoned all of his faculties and strength. The desperate task before him, he knew, would require every remaining second of his life”. “Wincing”, “faculties” and “desperate” are all effective words used in the last two lines and they are excellent at describing the curator, giving readers a visual image of him. “Wincing” justifies that the curator is extremely weak and adding “in pain” emphasises the fact that he is going to die. We are told that he has a task to do before he dies, however we do not know what it is, adding to the suspense.
Readers are drawn to the ending phrase, “every remaining second of his life” because it denotes that the “task” is significant for the events in the novel. You feel sorry for the curator because he is innocent and didn’t deserve to be shot whereas you feel vengeful towards Albino. The sentence ends abrupt, asking readers many questions. They want to know: Is Sauniere dead? What is the desperate task he wanted to complete and what has happened to Albino? A cliff-hanger is formed by ending abruptly, evoking readers’ sense of curiosity. Therefore, the last two sentences of the prologue are successful at preparing the reader for the rest of the novel.
The introduction to “The Da Vinci Code” is brilliant for preparing the reader for the rest of the novel by setting a good theme. The introduction leaves you in suspense, generating an urge for you to read on. All aspects of the prologue contribute to its excellence. The prologue is kept as simplistic as possible, providing background knowledge for readers. I have deeply enjoyed the book so far and I can say that readers will continue to feel a sense of thrill as they progress through the novel.