The Alchemist Coelho
“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho Literature Analysis Essay
Considering sacrificing the personal wishes for the sake of love the ultimate manifestation of true love is typical for the majority of writers, poets, and painters exploring the romantic themes. However, Paulo Coelho has managed to amaze the readers with a wholly new approach to exploring the nature of love and describing its role in the person’s life in his famous novel The Alchemist. Coelho demonstrates that while the love demanding the sacrifice of one’s dream is not true, the genuine love serves as a stimulus for living out the Personal Legend and achieving the happiness.
The first lesson the reader learns about love while reading The Alchemist is that the wrong understanding of this feeling often becomes an obstacle on the way to the person’s pursuit of self-realization. The author shows that untrue love can stop the person from living the life full of meaning, which is essential for discovering the purpose of one’s. This step is crucial for the person’s ability to move to the next level of self-development. However, the author shows that the problem is related to people’s perception of love, not the feeling itself.
Coelho demonstrates that true love cannot prevent the person from realizing his/her dreams through the words of the alchemist: “You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love… the love that speaks the Language of the World” (Coelho 67). The main protagonist feels the temptation to leave his Personal Legend because of the feeling of affection towards a woman two times: after meeting the merchant’s daughter and after he falls in love with Fatima.
Though Santiago is not bounded with the merchant’s daughter by serious feelings, after meeting her he feels the desire to lead a purposeless life: “He recognized that he was feeling something he had never experienced before: the desire to live in one place forever” (Coelho 3). After meeting Fatima, the described desire appears to dominate Santiago’s plans one more time with even bigger power. Falling in love with Fatima motivates him to stay in the oasis and refuse from living his dream.
The Alchemist tells the boy that such decision will lead to the unhappiness of both Santiago and Fatima as he will regret refusing from a dream, and Fatima will feel the guilt for forcing him to do it. In such way, Coelho teaches the reader that refusing from a dream for the sake of love is the severely wrongful act. Though Santiago manages to overcome the temptation to leave his dream because of the affection and love towards a woman, the reader gets a clear impression that sacrificing one’s dream for love can be an obstacle on the way to one’s happiness and purposeful life.
Such position is unique in regard to world literature, as most writers describe the sacrifice of one’s dreams and wishes for the sake of love as the highest manifestation of true love. Coelho, on the contrary, reveals that such sacrifice serves as a proof of the untrue love, which can ruin the person’s happiness. Fatima also demonstrates the untraditional understanding of love.
While most female protagonists described in the literature strive for making their beloved ones stay with them, Fatima encourages Santiago to leave her and continue his trip: “That’s why I want you to continue toward your goal. If you have to wait until the war is over, then wait. But if you have to go before then, go on in pursuit of your dream” (Coelho 53). Such approach to true love opposes the traditional beliefs and changes the explanation of its nature.
Another lesson learned about love from The Alchemist is related to the significant role love plays in achieving the goal of self-realization by a person. Coelho demonstrates that though the misleading understanding of love is an obstacle to one’s happiness, the feeling itself is one of the main components of human life. The author reveals the primary role of the powers that are not controlled by a human in encouraging the person to fall in love: “One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving” (Coelho 68).
Coelho emphasizes that love is a gift from the universe through Santiago’s words addressed to Fatima: “So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you” (Coelho 68). By overcoming many obstructions and finding the knowledge about the rules guiding human life, Santiago comes to a conclusion that love should serve as the stimulus for self-improvement: “And that’s where the power of love comes in. Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are” (Coelho 85).
These words illustrate one of the main thoughts shared by the author with the readers: love is not the goal of life, it is the power helping to fulfill Personal Legend. Though Coelho does not place love in the center of Santiago’s motivations, he shows that it is crucial to person’s happiness. Love serves both as a stimulus for Santiago’s pursuit of the dream and the ultimate reward for living out the Personal Legend, as the novel ends with the reunion of Fatima and Santiago.
Therefore, the author does not deny the importance of love but points to its true purpose. This lesson differs from most of the traditional ideas about love, as literature and traditions mostly put love in the center of the person’s life and praise the suffering caused by it. Coelho, on the contrary, celebrates the love that helps the person to realize his/her dreams instead of abandoning them.
The lessons about true love given by Coelho in The Alchemist can save many people from losing their personalities and happiness. I know several examples of people who have sacrificed their dreams for the sake of love and live an unhappy life.
Their sacrifices have caused immense regrets and, as a result, serious misunderstandings with the partners. Such examples from the real life make me believe that Coelho’s approach to defining what the true love is and how it should help to achieve the lifelong goals instead of ruining them is truthful and can be supported with the abundance of real life experience.
Paulo Coelho has managed to create an innovative approach to defining the true love. According to the assumptions he makes throughout the text of The Alchemist, the trueness of love cannot be assessed by the readiness of a person to sacrifice his/her dreams for its sake. On the contrary, true love stimulates for achieving the lifetime goals and self-realization and serves as the power guiding the person towards the happiness.
Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. Trans. Alan Clarke. 1992. PDF file. Web.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho Book Review [Essay]
The book The Alchemist can be described as a metaphor for life. It is funny how dreams can mold a person’s life. It is a paradox such that people consider other lifestyles as better than theirs, thereby striving to get that life that belongs to different cultures, through that lives are transformed. The essay on The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho shall analyze the traits of the main characters and critical themes in the novel.
Analysis of the Main Character
Dreams can be seen as the driving forces behind an individual’s life as they bring about desires that mold an individual’s destiny because through them, then fate ceases to be the determinant of happenings in an individual’s lifetime. Santiago, a young shepherd, the main character in the story The Alchemist, is portrayed by Paulo Coelho as a go-getter to some extent.
As is clear from the summary, he repeatedly gets a dream that haunts him and pushes him to follow it, and thus his expedition in the story; he wants to achieve that dream (Coelho 34). Santiago gets the simple lessons of life of believing in the signs that one gets in life, even if it is just through dreams and following them till he achieves them. The crossing of cultures leads him to following his goals, which he finally achieves.
The boy, Santiago, is driven to search for the hidden treasure in Egypt. The desire makes him cross many countries and even the vast Sahara desert, whereby he meets different characters, both deceitful and truthful, who shape his life. This is similar to the way the young Chinese man and other international students cross the borders to get to Melbourne to study, their treasure in this context, education.
When the young man shows up in the author’s office with scratchy English (Coelho 45), it is evident that there is a bit of transformation from his past self to his present self.
The young Chinese appreciated the author’s message that she had given him the first day he visited her office because she says so. In the same spirit of appreciation, the boy Santiago appreciated the advice given to him in the story, which leads him to acquire the treasure that he set out to look for.
For instance, he gives the older man a share of his sheep, that is, a tenth of his flock and promises to give a tenth of his treasure to the older woman. The Chinese student, on the other hand, brings the tutor a painting of a well embroidered Chinese woman (Coelho 61). This, therefore, gives the importance of appreciating those who help us in our endeavors to acquire our different treasures in life.
Through the harsh experiences that he faces, the boy learns the value of being strong, patient, and persistent, and being a hard-working person. Regardless of the setbacks that he encounters along the way, he does not give up. Just like in Rachael, no potential was seen in her as a nurse. She was discouraged by her tutors that she could not make it as a children’s nurse, but her so many visits to the Occupational Health Department, which convinced the tutors that she was capable of becoming a nurse, saw her through (Coelho 25).
It took a year to convince them and about fifteen visits, and in the long run, she was allowed to take up the career path that she had dreamt of and desired to do. Her desire and persistence to follow her dream made her accomplish her heart desires. Following a dream can sometimes seem too hard and expensive, but the determination in it tells all about the conviction that one has.
The Alchemist book review essay shows that the boy in the story is portrayed by Coelho as humble and a brave character. The king tells him that when he wants something, the world will always conspire to help him achieve it, and now that he wants to get the treasure, then he is going to get it as long as he is ready to face the challenges (Coelho 24).
New Culture As a Significant Challenge
The challenges he faces in foreign lands can be likened to the challenges faced by those living in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. We are told that the further one lives away from the city, the more harsh life is for them because life there is a bit depressing and that there are little or even no amenities at all. The public transport system is also weak. The kinds of houses that are there are in a sorry state, just like street lights are not in proper functioning conditions.
Fitting into a new culture can be demoralizing more especially after relocation to a new place, but regardless of this, accepting the prevailing conditions in order to achieve one’s heart desires is reason enough to go on, the international students face problems of housing but with perseverance they the can achieve their ultimate goals and desires.
The boy Santiago takes up every opportunity that comes his way, and he swallows through so many problems that he encounters along his path of getting to the treasure. He worked hard towards his destiny because no problem was too big for him to deal with.
We find that dreaming is one thing, and following that dream is another. Rachael had a dream of becoming a nurse, and she felt that she needed to give back to the community and serve the people who had made a significant difference in her life. That is why she really wanted to be a children’s nurse, she was laughed at told on several occasions that it was never going to happen because a nursing course was not suitable for her and that she was fit to a desk job (Coelho 25).
Nevertheless, as is evident from the assessment, her desire to follow her dream was the driving force that led her to achieving it in the long run. Had she given up along the way due to the words of discouragement from even her tutors, she could not have become a voice to reckon to the parents of the sick children that she attended to at the Children’s Out-patient Department (Coelho 25).
In the story, we are also brought to a level ground where freedom to choose what one wants to do should be embraced and given room to drive us. Freedom is the ability for one to do what he or she likes and that entails following one’s heart.
Through this, one is capable of exploiting his or her own potentialities and doing something that is self-fulfilling, if one is made to do something that dictates his or her destiny in a forceful way, then the end results will always be bitter. The boy chooses to travel the world because this is his inner calling other than studying theology and becoming a priest.
He enjoys the life of adventure and traveling to new places. On her part, Rachael could have been forced to do a desk job because of her health, something that she could have done regretfully, thereby ending up a slave in a career path that on the contrary, should have brought her inner peace and happiness. The boy was allowed to follow his heart, which led him later on to acquire his life experiences that are worthwhile, even more than he could have achieved material treasures.Thus, with the help of vast imagery, symbolism, and paradoxes in The Alchemist, the author shows us the full circle of the story.
Coelho’s Attitude to the Main Theme
The challenges faced by adapting to a new culture can sometimes be too much to bear, but how ready is a person to bear with the challenges that come with it? At the same time, it can be hard to make a dream a reality, but how persistent that can one be to catch up with that dream (Coelho 89)? Both parties, therefore, should equip themselves with the communication gear, which most definitely is the vehicle that will enable one to get to his or her destiny.
The individual will get room to express him/herself, thereby appreciating each other as well as compromising with each other’s feelings where possible, that way the joy of learning will have come into play. Once a dream has been hatched, then the determination and persistence that will be employed in making it a reality is what will determine whether it is going to be the destiny of an individual, and that is what brings in the difference between destiny and fate.
Though not sure of his destiny, he strives to get it no matter the challenges, and his life experiences show that everyone needs to work hard to achieve success, one needs to strive for the good things in life. This simply inspires people to put effort in order to achieve our goals, for one to make his or her dreams become a reality, he or she is not just going to sit there and wait for dreams to fall into place, one needs to risk the good things in life in order to achieve better ones (Coelho 100).
As is clear from the essay on The Alchemist, Coelho simply intends to bring to our attention that if one dreams and wishes for something then one should be persistent about it and be patient for long enough, one might lose an opportunity by getting tired at the last minute and give up so quickly, and see the fruits after somebody else has achieved the fruits of our long-suffering. Just like Santiago, one’s wishes can come in both material objects and life experiences, as for the case of Santiago, his journey to the Pyramids in Egypt, is his treasure.
Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. New York. Harpertorch. 1993. pp. 1 – 163.
The Importance of Religion and Spirituality in The Alchemist
To most people, the brand of religion they follow, as well as the God they believe in, are the two most important factors of their religion. Most religions have similar philosophies, with guidelines that involve being kind, being honest, not cheating, and other basic moral rules. But the biggest controversy comes in when a god and the certain ways to achieve closeness to that god are named. Although it can be inferred that Santiago, the protagonist in The Alchemist, is heavily influenced by Judeo-Christian values through the various Biblical symbols present in the book. However, he does not resort to traditional means of achieving religious fulfillment; instead, he rejects his father’s notion of religion when he refuses to become a priest, because of his unique interpretation of his faith. People forget that religion is simply a means by which people achieve spirituality – not a competition. Since spirituality is a bond between the heart and mind, one must experience things differently from others in order to achieve it. This is why Santiago decides to become a shepherd. He is passionate about his travels, finds peace in that, and thus he becomes closer to God through these travels rather than as a priest in the Church. Everyone has different ways of attaining spirituality and religious status, but a commonality lies in that it can only be achieved in the pursuit of one’s personal legend: the purpose of one’s life. Santiago achieves both spirituality and religion in pursuit of his Personal Legend. Religion in The Alchemist is used to manifest the notion that there is greater meaning to Santiago’s life and that it is his duty to realize that meaning; it also serves as the basic discipline and structure he needs in order to gain spirituality, without which Santiago could never have achieved his Personal Legend.
In The Alchemist, the concept of Personal Legend plays something of a religious role in Santiago’s quest, convincing Santiago that he has a purpose to fill that is greater than his own life and gives Santiago the basic outline to follow in order to achieve his end goal. Religion in many cases is when a person has faith in the unknown and in this pursuit of the unknown, religion provides outlets to refer to in the case a person is lost. These outlets include holy texts, religious figures, and signs which have symbolic or historical importance and are an important characteristic of religion because they allow for a person to go back and see where he stands. In this novel, Melchizedek, who is a king of Salem, plays a critical part in the universe in convincing people and things of their personal legend. Melchizedek introduces Santiago with an idea that displays characteristics of a religion that tells Santiago to take control of his own life and to follow his Personal Legend. Initially, Santiago is unsure about this concept of Personal Legends Melchizedek introduces, however, when he witnesses and envies the liberty with which the wind called Levanter moves, he, just like any religious person would, decides to take a leap of faith into the unknown by selling his sheep and boarding the ship to Tangier. This aspect of uncertainty present with Santiago’s Personal Legend lies parallel with the concept of religion because they both require faith which is the ability to believe in the unknown.
Another reason that the Personal Legends act as a religion is that they provide outlets like other religions, such as omens for visual confirmation of where Santiago stands. Omens are an important part of religion because according to Melchizedek “God has prepared a path for everyone to follow [and they] just have to read the omens that He left for them” (Coelho 30). In this case, Personal Legends can be classified as a religion because of its use of outlets, however, it is not entirely an independent one because it relies on God to make some aspects work. Without the work of God and these omens: Santiago would never have dropped Urim and Thummim (which are stones that decipher omens) reminding him once more of his personal legends, he would not have given any significance to the fight of the hawks and would have been killed in battle when armies swept into the oasis to maraud, and he would not have noticed the significance of the beetle in the desert, thus would never be able to find his treasure. In the book, we see the concept of Personal Legends be introduced which can be classified as a religion itself, and this religion provides Santiago with outlets and the means to achieve his end goal, however, it is a religion that is not entirely independent since it relies on god to make certain things happen and therefore only exists to complement already established religions
Spirituality is the crucial concept of having the mind and heart in total synchronization with each other; without that, a person will never be able to perform their one hundred percent; this can only be achieved after your beliefs and desires have been rigorously tested, which in the case of Santiago is his journey to achieve his Personal Legend. He is tested for his beliefs and his willpower at every turn of the page in the book and as these tests become harder the progress he makes in terms of coming at peace with his heart becomes clear. After the point he gets robbed, Santiago cries about losing his sheep and his mind begins to think of “selling the stones [Urim and Thummim] and buying a return ticket [back to Andalusia]”, however, later as “he ran his fingers slowly over the stones, sensing their temperature and feeling their surface” his heart said “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” and then continues his journey (Coelho 42- 43). In this, his spiritual weakness can be seen as his mind and heart conflict and recognize their desires, but are afraid of never being able to return to his old life as a shepherd, however, his faith and religion begin to take shape. Later on he meets Fatima, who turns out to be the love of his life, and he feels afraid that he will lose Fatima in pursuits of his Personal Legend. Santiago realizes that his heart is trying to distract him from his Personal Legend, and calls it a “traitor” (Coelho 132). He asks the alchemist why he should listen to his heart while it commits “treason” and the alchemist responds by telling him “You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say. That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow” (Coelho 132). He still is not satisfied and tells the alchemist that “[his] heart is afraid that it will have to suffer” and in response the alchemist tells him “that no heart suffers when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God” (Coelho 134). This thought comforts Santiago and “from then on [he] understood his heart” (Coelho 136). At this point, he still has some progress to make, but he had gained the fundamentals. This was an important step because now his heart and mind no longer conflict and nothing was there to hold him back, which gives him the willpower and patience to stop at nothing. Spirituality is achieved when religious beliefs are thoroughly tested, and is important because when a person is in doubt he is no longer able to function at his best; as Santiago progresses through these harsh test he begins to gain spiritual enlightenment.
Paulo Coelho introduces us to the concept of Personal Legends which shares many features of many established religions. This particular type of religion Coelho introduces shares the fact that it requires some degree of faith in the unknown as all religions do, and it shares the importance of symbols and religious figures. One important distinction can be made that much of the concept of Personal Legend relies on a supreme deity that constructs an entire purpose for you, which makes this concept dependent on already existing religions. Ultimately, in the book religion only seems to be a way of discipline which makes it a vessel to achieve spirituality. Spirituality is a far more important phase because if one is not at peace with himself, it means he is not at peace with his belief, and therefore cannot achieve his Personal Legend. In most cases, people fail to take the first steps towards their Personal Legends due to distractions caused by the small things in life in the same way Santiago was distracted by his sheep. We all know what our Personal Legends are, but many of us fail to look past our sheep to realize that the unknown is more promising.
Rawis, James, and Chris Clarke. “Omens in “The Alchemist”.” February. N.p., 04 Feb. 2015. Web. 15 Jan. 2017.
How Dreams and Omens Support the Theme of Interconnection
The use of omens and dreams in Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, significantly develops the theme that everything in the universe is interwoven and interconnected. It is through these events that the main character’s personal destiny is revealed. These omens and dreams, which introduce the topics of Language and Soul of the World, along with their life implications, best support the main theme through three moments in the novel: Santiago’s time as a shepherd when he subconsciously learns about the Language of the World, working for the Crystal Merchant where Santiago learns about his destiny, and meeting the alchemist where Santiago learns about the power within. These occurrences, through the use of omens and dreams, enable the comprehension of Coelho’s theme that everything around us is interconnected.
Originally, while exploring the world as a humble shepherd, Santiago unknowingly discovers the Language of the World through his dreams and omens. This primarily occurs when he begins to understand the sheep’s feelings without speaking their language. This power of intuitive interconnection is demonstrated when Santiago says, “It was as if some mysterious energy bound his life to that of the sheep, with whom he had spent the past two years, leading them through the countryside in search of food and water” (pg 2). Shortly thereafter, Santiago also places great importance on his dreams, wanting meaningful explanations for them, evidenced when he thought, “He had suddenly remembered that, in Tarifa, there was an old woman who interpreted dreams” (pg 15). Ultimately, Santiago’s dream and omen comprehension reveals his personal destiny or Personal Legend, proving that his subconscious thoughts connect to his everyday life and his potential, wealthy future, therefore, supporting the theme of interconnection .
Dreams and omens, within the novel, also enhance the theme’s message when Santiago meets the crystal merchant. As Santiago starts working for the merchant, he hears the shopkeeper say he abandoned his dream of going to Mecca, for lack of energy and motivation, to continue operating his store upon his return, but mostly due to his omens’ warnings to stay. Santiago accepts this as a sign and eventually learns from the merchant’s mistakes and vows to continue his destined journey dictated by his omens and dreams, “He had learned some important things, like how to deal in crystal, and about the language without words… and about omens” (pg 87). His personal growth and confident decision to follow his established fate strongly support the theme of interconnection as it demonstrates the clear link between following dreams and omens to one’s path toward destiny.
A third and crucial part of the novel, where dreams and omens ultimately teach Santiago that everything is connected, is when he travels through the desert and meets the alchemist. Enlightenment occurs when it is stated, “The boy was beginning to understand that intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it’s all written there” (pg 118). This evidently highlights the importance of the soul’s connection to everything and everyone on Earth. Additionally, this is where the alchemist teaches Santiago about the Soul of the World and how to listen to his heart to find and control the surrounding omens. In the end, the theme that everything is connected is most distinctly reinforced when Santiago reaches the Pyramids and ascertains his most valuable lesson that it is not necessarily the destination but rather the journey that will teach the most purposeful lessons. Santiago’s dreams and omens then reveal that every moment in life leads to the next, demonstrating that every thought, decision, and action affects another and are consequently interconnected.
Omens and dreams are most significant within Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist as they evidently support the theme that everything in the universe is interwoven and interconnected. The introduction of the Language of the World and Soul of the World through omens and dreams eventually leads to Santiago’s personal growth as he comprehends his purpose in life, his correlation to all around him, and his most meaningful journey on Earth. Thanks to the dreams and omens presented throughout events such as Santiago’s time as a shepherd, his work with the Crystal Merchant, and his desert journey, the novel’s theme has been evidently expressed, resulting in a fuller comprehension of the theme that everything in the universe has a distinctive language and soul uniting and interconnecting it all.