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Dan Brown's works are well-known to stir up controversies with their focus on modern corruption in the Catholic Church. This theme is seen in Angels and Demons prominently in plot details such as the Pope's sympathies toward science, the Pope's breach of vows, the Illuminati's infiltration of the papacy, the murders of Cardinals to manipulate the future papacy, and the murder of the Pope.
The effect of this theme renders the reader skeptical of institutions that are classically images of moral uprightness and trustworthiness. This is a genre enhancing theme as well, in that it encourages the reader to feel a sense of tension between all of the parties involved in Angels and Demons.
This is a staple in the mystery genre. The knowability of mysterious elements within the plot leads the reader to guess "who-done-it." In Dan Brown's narrative, the typical clue schemas are less pronounced, as Brown prefers symbols and codes to outright clues. His clues are often pronouncedly more skepticizing and rooted in corruption and conspiracy.
Conspiracy theories are notably pronounced in Angels and Demons and included corruption of the Catholic church even in Vatican City. The Illuminati conspiracy has gained an incredible following in pop-culture through Brown's fiction, and is often thought of as the catch-all conspiracy. Within this work, conspiracy theories are actualized, allowing the reader to exercise a cynical and suspicious view of the powers that be.
Angels and Demons has a basis in the age-old debate between religion and science. While religion propagates taht with science we are letting go of our spirituality and belief, science debates taht with religion we underestimate, even kill our potential. The characters are often seen in a fix on which side to support. Leonardo Vetra, a priest and scientist, was murdered as a result of this debate. Highly religious people like Ventresca shudder at the thought of a love affair between a priest and a nun even though it was not physical. Then, people like Kohler condemn religion as he was denied medical aid as will of the God. The plot seems like an attack on religion by science, but actually the whole plan is designed to make people condemn science and grow more religious.
Angels and Demons is built around a number of paired/opposed forces that wind through the novel as they do human society and human history.
Science Versus Faith
The clash between science and faith is everywhere in Angels and Demons. It is symbolized through the opposing organizations of the Illuminati (who claim to speak for free thought and science) and the Catholic Church (which bulwarks two millennia of dedication to the Christian faith). That this clash can be a war is spelled out by both sides, though Leonardo Vetra and his daughter show readers that it is possible for these two methods of seeking the truth to find peaceful accord within a single heart. However, the camerlengo’s impassioned “surrender” to science in the war shows how uncommon and unlikely such a resolution is. The camerlengo articulates the case for pure faith, in large part because he can see the hand of God in his life. By contrast, Maximilian Kohler’s life was ruined by a misinformed faith, and so he burns with an anticlerical fire.
Passionate Dedication Versus Obsession
Leonardo Vetra, whose murder begins Langdon’s involvement with the novel’s complex mysteries, is a fine example of the ideal of passionate dedication, as is his counterpart, the assassinated pope. Each man pursued truth and supported his chosen organization with his whole heart. Both touched others with their evident devotion, which was intense, but not so single-minded that it excluded the human. Both of these busy men found time in their lives to embrace their children, children who joined their families voluntarily. By contrast, Maximilian Kohler, the camerlengo, and the assassin all embody the dark side of dedication, which is obsession. Each is willing to allow suffering, and even to create suffering and bloody death, in order to pursue his goals.
Public Versus Private
The control and...
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