Study Guide

The Da Vinci Code Manipulation

By Dan Brown

Manipulation

The delicate art of cajoler was a lost skill in modern law enforcement, one that required exceptional poise under pressure. Few men possessed the necessary sangfroid for this kind of operation, but Fache seemed born for it. His restraint and patience bordered on the robotic. (8.60)

Cajoler refers to when police can manage to trick their suspect into revealing their own guilt by admitting or confessing something before they even know they're a suspect. The fact that Fache is using this method to ensnare Langdon doesn't bode well for our protagonist, especially seeing how sure Fache is of having the guilty culprit. The problem with this method, though, is that sometimes things aren't what they seem…

Eager to know how plans in Paris were progressing, he wished he could phone Silas. But he could not. The Teacher had seen to that.

"It is for your own safety," the Teacher had explained, speaking in English with a French accent. "I am familiar enough with electronic communications to know they can be intercepted. The results could be disastrous for you."

Aringarosa knew he was right. The Teacher seemed an exceptionally careful man. He had not revealed his own identity to Aringarosa, and yet he had proven himself a man well worth obeying. (10.58-60)

Is it for the Bishop's safety, or the Teacher's? It's easier to manipulate people if they don't have direct contact with each other, because that's when things can go wrong. ("He told you that? Well, he told me this! We're being tricked!")

Although the Teacher and Silas never met face-to-face, each time they spoke by phone, Silas was awed, both by the profundity of the Teacher's faith and by the scope of his power. The Teacher seemed to be a man who knew all, a man with eyes and ears in all places. How the Teacher gathered his information, Silas did not know, but Aringarosa had placed enormous trust in the Teacher, and he had told Silas to do the same. "Do as the Teacher commands you," the bishop told Silas. "And we will be victorious."

Victorious. Silas now gazed at the bare floor and feared victory had eluded them. The Teacher had been tricked. The keystone was a devious dead end. And with the deception, all hope had vanished.

Silas wished he could call Bishop Aringarosa and warn him, but the Teacher had removed all their lines of direct communication tonight. For our safety. (46.12-14)

The Teacher does, in fact, have eyes and ears just about everywhere that pertain to the Holy Grail, so Silas isn't wrong in his assumptions. But what Silas fails to see is that he and his mentor are being manipulated in ways he can't even imagine.

Quickly, Aringarosa checked the phone's voice mail. Nothing. Then again, he realized, the Teacher never would have left a recorded message; he was a man who took enormous care with his communications. Nobody understood better than the Teacher the perils of speaking openly in this modern world. Electronic eavesdropping had played a major role in how he had gathered his astonishing array of secret knowledge.

For this reason, he takes extra precautions.

Unfortunately, the Teacher's protocols for caution included a refusal to give Aringarosa any kind of contact number. I alone will initiate contact, the Teacher had informed him. So keep your phone close. (50.7-9)

By being the one who holds all the methods of communication, the Teacher has put the Bishop and Silas in a precarious situation. He can control all of his underlings without them even suspecting a thing, and he's revealed just enough to make the bishop think things are on the up-and-up. But, if you were in the Bishop's shoes – wouldn't you have doubts about trusting this faceless entity that mysteriously emerged with a plan just when you thought things were looking bleak?

"Who is she?" Sophie asked.

"That, my dear," Teabing replied, "is Mary Magdalene."

Sophie turned. "The prostitute?"

Teabing drew a short breath, as if the word had injured him personally. "Magdalene was no such thing. That unfortunate misconception is the legacy of a smear campaign launched by the early Church. The Church needed to defame Mary Magdalene in order to cover up her dangerous secret – her role as the Holy Grail." (58.25-28)

So, this is another manipulation of historical evidence so that Brown can support his clever conspiracy theory. Mary Magdalene is indeed believed to suffer from the misconception that she was a prostitute, but it's less a deliberate smear campaign than an unfortunate juxtaposition of descriptions of women named Mary in the Bible. (Source)

The wind outside Château Villette had picked up, and Silas's robe danced in the breeze as he crouched near the window. Although he had been unable to hear much of the conversation, the word keystone had sifted through the glass on numerous occasions.

It is inside.

The Teacher's words were fresh in his mind. Enter Château Villette. Take the keystone. Hurt no one.
(62.89-91)

We feel like Silas should've seen some red flags when the Teacher tells him to hurt no one. He hasn't really had a problem with violence so far (heck, that's why Silas was perfect for the job), so why now? It's not because he's deep down a benevolent puppet-master, it's because he knows he's in the house and has to protect himself.

Langdon had to smile as the threesome moved deeper into the church. "Leigh," he whispered, "you lie entirely too well."

Teabing's eyes twinkled. "Oxford Theatre Club. They still talk of my Julius Caesar. I'm certain nobody has ever performed the first scene of Act Three with more dedication." Langdon glanced over. "I thought Caesar was dead in that scene." Teabing smirked. "Yes, but my toga tore open when I fell, and I had to lie on stage for half an hour with my todger hanging out. Even so, I never moved a muscle. I was brilliant, I tell you."

Langdon cringed. Sorry I missed it.
(83.25-29)

When Teabing commits to a lie, he commits. We like these little hints at Teabing's deviousness that Brown sprinkles into the story. They seem innocent at the time, but looking back you want to yell a warning at Langdon and Sophie to run away as fast as they can.

As Rémy took the phone, he knew this poor, twisted monk had no idea what fate awaited him now that he had served his purpose.

The Teacher used you, Silas.

And your bishop is a pawn.

Rémy still marveled at the Teacher's powers of persuasion. Bishop Aringarosa had trusted everything. He had been blinded by his own desperation. Aringarosa was far too eager to believe. Although Rémy did not particularly like the Teacher, he felt pride at having gained the man's trust and helped him so substantially. I have earned my payday.

What makes him so special – why is he so confident that he's not being played like everyone else? Most likely it's because the Teacher cleverly made him feel that he was a crucial cog in the plan – he knows all the machinations that have been conducted behind the scenes, so he feels like he's 'in the know' on everything. Unfortunately, though, it also makes him a persona non grata when his usefulness runs out.

The Teacher took another drink of cognac and handed the flask to Rémy.

"Let's toast our success. The end is near."

Rémy accepted the bottle gratefully. The cognac tasted salty, but Rémy didn't care. He and the Teacher were truly partners now. He could feel himself ascending to a higher station in life. I will never be a servant again. As Rémy gazed down the embankment at the duck pond below, Château Villete seemed miles away.

Taking another swig from the flask, Rémy could feel the cognac warming his blood. The warmth in Rémy's throat, however, mutated quickly to an uncomfortable heat. Loosening his bow tie, Rémy tasted an unpleasant grittiness and handed the flask back to the Teacher. (94.8-10)

Dang, Teabing is a cool customer. He calmly kills someone he's worked with for years, and he does it in such a way that Rémy doesn't even realize his treachery until the very end.

"I have ears everywhere, Bishop," the Teacher whispered, "and with these ears I have gained certain knowledge. With your help, I can uncover the hiding place of a sacred relic that will bring you enormous power… enough power to make the Vatican bow before you. Enough power to save the Faith." He paused. "Not just for Opus Dei. But for all of us." (100.48)

Bishop Aringarosa is reflecting on how the Teacher had tricked him into thinking he was on his side, and wanted the same things Aringarosa wanted so desperately. It becomes clear that Teabing was an extremely smooth manipulator, and had ways of engendering trust that seemed completely natural.