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Literary Analysis Essay of Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist"

0 August 08 2014, 13:45 in Literary Essay

Literary Analysis Essay of Paulo Coelho’s "The Alchemist”

Published in 1988, The Alchemistis regarded as one of Paulo Coelho’s best works. The narrative follows the story of a shepherd boy named Santiago. He decides to travel after having a recurring dreams about a treasure located as the foot of the pyramids in Egypt. And in his journey he meets various characters and circumstances that tell him to follow his personal legend which is dream or a goal that he had always wanted to pursue. Within the plot themes which is often embodied by the characters as well as events in the novel. Most notable themes include personal legend, fear, and the oneness of the universe – all of which contribute to the development of the story.

One of the main and perhaps, the most interesting themes of the book is personal legend. In book, the author talks about the concept of personal legend which is a dream or a personal goal that needs to be fulfilled in order for a person to live a satisfying and full life. The author similarly suggests that the pursuit to fulfill a personal legend is the primary and perhaps most urgent thing that life requires of us. The character of Melchizedek explains this concept to Santiago: "Whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth” (Coelho 24). The idea of personal legend, eventually moved the protagonist to fulfill the nagging desire to find that treasure underneath the pyramids. From there, the main character sets on a journey not only to the pyramids of Egypt but a journey that will lead him to a spiritual discovery. This means simply means that fulfilling a personal legend is the life purpose of an individual which is to realize his or her personal dream or goal.

Much like personal legend, the concept of fear is also an important theme and element used by the author in the book. Throughout the journey, the reader sees Santiago encountering numerous obstacles. These obstacles however, mainly come from his personal fears. Some of the worries he has on his mind include the fear of losing wealth and security by joining the desert caravan, the fear of dying in a battle, and the fear of failing. Although fear, is but common among humans, both the Alchemist and Melchizedek condemns this. For them, fear will become irrelevant if one is faithfully fulfilling his personal legend. Similar to Santiago, fear is embodied in the character of the crystal merchant who wants to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. However, he allows fear to control his life because he believes that once he made the journey to Mecca, he will have nothing to live for. As a result, the merchant lives a very sad and grim life.

Oneness and unity are also two important concepts in the book. And this is represented by "The Soul of the World” which is a force that binds everything in the universe. This idea is apparent in how Santiago is asked to communicate with nature which is, according to the novel, the common language of the world. The protagonist eventually asks for the help of the wind, desert, and the sun to turn him into a wind. Essentially, the concept of oneness of everything is one of the core messages of the book.

Based on the points provided, it can be concluded that Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist revolves around three major themes. This includes personal legend, fear, and oneness of the universe. These themes are the heart of the book as it develops the character of the protagonist while at the same time, develop the entire plot of the narrative.



Works Cited

Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. NY: Harper Collins

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