THE NOT SO SACRED FEMININE: FEMALE REPRESENTATION AND GENERIC CONSTRAINTS IN THE DA VINCI CODE
Abstract (Summary)Since its publication in 2003, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code has dominated bestseller lists, becoming one of the most widely read, discussed, and analyzed books in recent history. Although The Da Vinci Code offers a radical view of history that argues for the equality and power of women, at the end of the novel nothing has actually changed. In light of this, my thesis is a feminist analysis of the female protagonist, Sophie Neveu, in both Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Ron Howard’s 2006 film adaptation. In analyzing these texts, I ultimately conclude that the lack of actual female empowerment is the result of the conventions of the classical mystery/detective genre. John Cawelti’s theories of genre and formula and Laura Mulvey’s psychoanalytical theories of gender and the gaze form the theoretical base for my observations. These theories, along with those relating to gender and the detective genre, are instrumental in my close readings of Dan Brown’s novel and Ron Howard’s film adaptation. In examining The Da Vinci Code in terms of its popular culture effects and popularity, I situate the text within the historical locations of postmodernism and a post-9/11 United States. My analysis of The Da Vinci Code reveals our contemporary culture’s unease with both domestic and international politics in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. With our vulnerabilities as a nation exposed, the American public embraced texts that not only safely allowed them to explore their fears, but distracted them from the more pressing issues at hand. Coupled with this preoccupation was the desire to return to a sense of “normalcy.” As a result, more traditional models of living, including notions of gender, have been embraced. Given the text’s popularity, a gendered study of The Da Vinci Code reveals the negative stereotypes of women that still exist in current American society, and shows the roles popular media such as literature and film have in both reflecting and perpetuating these beliefs.
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/2007