”The Alchemist
A fable about following your dreams.”

“The Alchemist” written by Paulo Coelho is a compelling novel which has crossed the boundaries of books and taken a life on its own, creating change and a new perspective on life around the world including mine. The novel is based on following your dreams and the importance of listening to your heart to reach your life goal. The story follows a shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his hometown in Spain to find treasure in Egypt; his journey brings him in so many places and directions where he encounters many obstacles, however, he is helped by three critical characters in the book. Not only do these three main characters who have contributed Santiago with his personal legend but have helped me gain a better and deep understanding about the valuable life lessons they share which I will interpret into my everyday life.

The beginning of the novel we learn what kind of goals and aspirations Santiago has for his life before he has the desire to find the treasure. The readers understand at this point that he is not the typical shepherd you would see in day-to-day life. It is very unusual to see and an educated boy who can read wanting to be a shepherd, this can be demonstrated in the lines of the merchant’s daughter” I didn’t know shepherds could read, how did you learn how to read?  Santiago replies ”as everybody learns in school” The merchant’s daughter soon replies ‘’well if you know how to read why are you just a shepherd?’’ This gives us a better understanding that Santiago chose to be a shepherd for a reason and we soon learn why, as he recalls a memory of telling his father that he wanted to travel the world. The novel explains that Santiago’s father tells him the only people who travel the world are shepherds however they don’t gain any change as results. “The people who come here have a lot of money to spend, so they can afford to travel. Among us, the only ones who travel are the shepherds. Santiago replies with ‘’well then; I’ll be a shepherd’’.This gives the reader a better understanding of what the book is about, as it gives aspects about what to expect in the book Which to my understanding is an unexpected life journey that Santiago wants to live. He takes his life into his own hands and makes his own choices about the way he wants to lead his life. This can be interpreted in the reader’s lives as it can help people feel inspired and enlightened about the changes they want to make or simply the powerful drive to reach their personal goals. Personally, I can relate to Santiago since we both want the desire to travel and seek what the world has to offer. He teaches me that if you desire something ”go for it”. This makes me feel empowered to listen to my heart and make decisions and goals for myself. Furthermore, I feel inspired by his courage and bravery to travel by himself which motivates me to take my life into my own hands and live it to a greater extent. However not only does this express the importance of living your life how you want to live it, but it also expresses the importance of family and their support, which should be valued and respected. This perspective is demonstrated in the text where Santiago’s father soon accepts his decision to become a shepherd and gives him three ancient gold coins to buy his flock of sheep ”found these one day in the field. I wanted them to be apart of your inheritance. But use them to buy your flock.’’ This creates the purpose for Santiago to travel. This relates back to my family which it creates the feeling of gratefulness within me about the sacrifices and freedom that my mum allowed me to have. I learn that both Santiago and I are lucky to have family members that help you achieve your greatest desires. Reading this beginning part of the book I realize there are important life lessons that Santiago has demonstrated which made me excited about reading the rest of the novel and learning about Santiago’s journey and what this book could make me feel and become as I hope to become a more independent person where I can hold my future into my own hands with courage and bravery.

Moreover, in the grasping novel, I found that there many obstacles that Santiago goes through. I have discovered that there are three main characters, the king, the merchant, and the alchemist who have helped Santiago fulfil his true destiny and have helped him overcome his conflicts. After Santiago has chosen to become a shepherd because he believes it will help him travel and discover new things around the world he finds himself dealing with a new possibility that will take him on an extraordinary adventure. This starts off with the reoccurrence of Santiago strange dreams where he has awakened before the dream has ended. He soon realizes there is an old woman nearby the village who can interpret dreams and he decides to visit her. Santiago then explains his dream to the gipsy woman  ”I have had the same dream twice; I dreamed that I was in a field with my sheep when a child appeared and began playing the animals. The child went on playing with my sheep for quite a while, suddenly the child took me by both hands and transported me to the Egyptian pyramids, the child said to me if you come here, you will find hidden treasure’’ Santiago then states ‘’and just as she was about to show me the exact location, I woke up” The old woman studied the dream carefully and tells Santiago her interpretation that he must go to the pyramids in Egypt to find the treasure since the child showed the treasure to Santiago that means it exists. The old lady demands ten per cent of Santiago’s treasure when he finds it, Santiago laughs in disbelief and then was told to leave by the old lady since he wasted too much of her time. Santiago left disappointed and decided he will never believe in his dreams. ‘’So the boy was disappointed; he decided that he would never again believe in his dreams’’ This is a one out of many obstacles that Santiago has faced, the discouragement when it comes to your goals.”This can be related in everyday life where we feel discouraged and unmotivated to achieve your desires however we learn from this novel that we will have bad days however there will be good days that will set you back on the right path. This aspect can be demonstrated where Santiago moves on from his day where he then comes across an old man. The old man claims to be the king of Salem and demands one-tenth of Santiago sheep if he tells him where the hidden treasure is, at this point Santiago believes that he was involved with the dream interpreter, however, the king started to write things in the sand with a stick that Santiago had never told the gypsy woman, so he believes the king. He feels embarrassed about the idea of “why would a king be talking to a shepherd’’ the king states ‘’For several reasons. But let’s say that the most important is that you have succeeded in discovering your destiny’’ (pg 22) ‘’because you are trying to realize your destiny .and you are at the point where you’re about to give it all up’’ (pg 24) the king helped Santiago by teaching him signs and omens on how to understand them. He also points out the direction on where to find treasure and also gave him two stones which will help him make decisions. As the reader, we learn that the king has set Santiago back on track and explained what his destiny is and encouraged him to fulfil his true destiny. We also learn from the king that everything in life has a price this where he demands one-tenth of Santiago sheep ‘’if you want to learn about your treasure, you will have to give me one-tenth of your flock’’ and then wishes him well on his journey. In my opinion the king appears as a wise old man in the “alchemist” with a quote I admire ‘’when you really want something,the whole universe conspires in helping you achieve it’’ I give credits to the author Coelho for establishing this sentence in the book because it works so well and gives the whole novel a simplicity feel, yet it makes the story so much more complex in it spirituality.  On the whole, it makes the book even more enjoyable to read. I believe that the old man is an essential character in Santiago journey without his advice and wisdom he wouldn’t be able to pursue his mission. In my opinion, This relates to everyone as sometimes we need a boost of motivation from someone who has an entirely different perspective as you will gain more of an open mind which will help you grow and strengthen your belief in yourself.

Secondly, the novel carries on with Santiago journey to pursue his personal legend. Santiago arrives in Tarifa in Africa and realizes he missed one detail that will keep him away from finding his treasure which was the fact that people speak Arabic ‘’the infields had an evil look about them. Besides this, he had forgotten one detail, which could keep him from his treasure for a long time: only Arabic is spoken in this country’’ However he stays on track and doesn’t let it bother him, he stays focused on finding the treasure which the sale of his sheep should help him have enough money in his pouch. Santiago comes across a same-aged guy, and he is relieved. He explains that everyone here speaks Spanish since its only two hours away from Tarifa. Santiago asks for guidance on where he could find the Egyptian pyramids then realises the owner of the bar was listening which made him feel uneasy ‘’the boy noticed that the owner of the bar stood nearby, listening attentively to their conversations he felt uneasy at the man’s presence’’  Santiago new friend explains to him that he had to cross the Sahara desert to get to the pyramids ‘’you have to cross the entire Sahara desert said the young man. And to do that you need money, I need to know whether you have enough’’ Santiago new friend takes his money to buy two camels as they set their journey for the next day ‘’we could get to the pyramids by tomorrow said the other taking his money but I’ll have to buy two camels’’  walking through the markets Santiago realizes that his new friend disappears with his money and realizes that he has been robbed. ‘’He was feeling sorry for himself and lamenting the fact that his life could have changed so suddenly and so drastically’’. As the reader, we begin to realize other obstacles Santiago faces like being robbed and being in the different country and feeling out of his place this can cause us to feel empathy and makes us recall a bad memory we have had in the past which our feelings can be related to sensing current situation. Personally while reading this tragic part of the book I can deeply relate to what Santiago is feeling, as I have currently been in his situation before felt it hard to live my life normally as the culture is completely different. However, I soon adapted and learned how to live in a different environment which Santiago soon will. Santiago still has this stones that the king gave him he was considering selling them for enough money to return home however he then remembered the promise to himself in making his own decisions. He then carries own to pursue his legend. This can inspire us to never give up on things as Santiago was on the edge of giving up a returning home ‘’ I’m going to hate those who have their treasure because I never found mine’’ he didn’t end up hating the word he overcame his stressful situation because the simplicity of two stones helped him understand that he shouldn’t give up. In my opinion, Santiago has inspired me to have a positive mindset. This is a powerful lesson for people to understand that if they are going through a negative situation look at the simple things that make life worth living to a greater extent.

In the novel, we look a the second main character that is important in my opinion to achieve your goals and teaches important life lessons. This then goes on to the crystal merchant that made Santiago confident to pursue his legend. This states as Santiago looks around the crystal merchant’s shop and offers to clean his glasses exchange for food ‘’the man looked at him without responding. In exchange could you give me something to eat’’ after cleaning all the glasses in the window the crystal merchant appreciates the work Santiago has done hand offered him to work in his shop ‘’ I’d like you to work in my shop two customers came in today while you were working that’s a good omen’’  after months working for the crystal merchant he considers going home and becoming a shepherd again. However, as he packs the stones that fall onto the ground to remind him of the king, this changes his mind. we learn by reading the novel that the crystal merchant doesn’t want his life to be any better. ‘’I’m afraid that if my dream is realized, I’ll have no reason to go on living’’ this also pushes Santiago to pursue his journey as he knows the crystal merchant is unhappy. This can be related to everyday life. Learning from other people perspective can drive people to better themselves. In this case, I think The crystal merchant help Santiago by giving him a job so he can earn enough money to be able to travel again but also teach him his outlook on life which then motivates Santiago to follow his dream. This is important for the reader to understand as we can interpret this life lesson that Santiago faces into our own lives where a people can have many paths on how to lead their life

Thirdly, Santiago carries on with his journey to find his treasure. He goes to a warehouse where he remembers the crystal merchants supplier uses caravans to cross the desert. ‘’He had remembered that one of the crystal merchants suppliers transported his crystal by means of caravans that crossed the desert On his journey to the pyramid he meets an English man who was looking for the alchemist.’’ he asked the boy if he too was in search of an alchemist’’. At this point, Santiago didn’t know what the alchemist was but soon learns that he encounters the alchemist who will be the last main character who helped him pursue his true destiny. Santiago journey helped him understand that everything happens for a reason. ”The mysterious chain that links one thing to another, the same chain that had caused him to become a shepherd, that had caused his reoccurring dream, that had bought him to a city near Africa, to find a king, and to be robbed in order to meet a crystal merchant and the closer one gets to realizing his destiny the more that destiny becomes his true reason being, thought the boy’’ This happens because he meets different people  who taught him life lessons which he becomes a more strong and independent person. The Englishman teaches Santiago about the alchemist ‘’in the alchemy, it called the soul of the world. When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are the closest to the soul of the world, it’s always a positive source’’ he explains to Santiago that everything has a soul and the obstacles he faced to get where he is for a reason, “but in the crystal merchant shop you probably realized that even the glasses were collaborating in your success” Santiago becomes more interested in the alchemy and reads more of the Englishmen books ‘’the boy became even more interested in the alchemy. He thought that, with some practice, he’d be able to transform everything into gold”. He reads the lives of the various people had succeeded in doing so. Santiago helps the Englishmen to find the alchemist, they come across a girl, and instantly he fell in love ’’it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you whether it’s in the desert or some great city, the past the future become unimportant’’ Santiago then believes that he does not need to find the treasure since he found his true love. However soon Santiago meets the alchemist, and the alchemist will point the direction of the where the treasure is ‘’ I’m only going to pint out the direction of your treasure’’  however since Santiago believes he has everything he needs he tells the alchemist already found my treasure. I have a camel, my money from the crystal shop, and none of this is from the pyramids’’ as Santiago is negative the alchemist helps him get back on track and teaches him valuable life lessons which help him connect with his soul and the soul of the world. I learned from this book that the alchemist teaches Santiago his abilities and what he can do. ‘’Thank you, you have taught me the language of the world’’ the alchemist is a mentor to Santiago, this made me understand that it’s good to have role models and people you look up as it helps to achieve your goals, In this case, the alchemist is significant to Santiago journey without encountering the alchemist he would never be able to find his personal legend. As the readers, we can take this in, and we can learn how to admire the people around us this could be parents teachers or friends who want you to well and it’s important to listen because they will all help in achieving your highest desires.

Reading this novel I have found that the ending is a twist. As the readers we soon learned that the treasure that Santiago looks for is under the sycamore tree in the abandoned church where he had the reoccurring dream. “the boy stood up shakily and looked once more at the pyramids. They seemed to laugh at him, and he laughed back, his heart was bursting with joy because he now knew where the treasure was’’ Santiago returns to the sycamore tree and starts digging, he finds himself digging up a chest of Spanish gold coins ‘’its true life really is generous to those who pursue their destiny, the boy thought’’ ) Santiago made the decision to find his destiny with the help of the important characters the king the merchant and the alchemist, he stepped out of his comfort zone to achieve his goal. However, we learn that not only is the treasure Santiago’s destiny it was the journey he had experienced to find it and the knowledge and perspectives he gained that helped him become the man he is now. In my opinion this is what the author wanted to portray in the novel and make us feel that we all have a destiny and its important to step out of your comfort zone to follow your dreams and the process when it comes to your journey is all apart of it and you will learn and grow as a person. Reading this book I cannot express on how much I have learned from the characters, as each character presents different perspectives on life I’ve learned that it’s important to listen to your heart and it will lead you to your personal legend. However, it also demonstrates the long journey it may take to reach it. Reading this book different people can gain different perspectives on how they interpret the life lessons the novel teaches, which make the novel more unique. I would highly recommend this book for people in today’s society who are scared to pursue their dreams; It’ll take you on a spiritual path that you will gain a whole new viewpoint on the world and it will motivate you to persevere your goals and live your life to a greater extent.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Natasha, there are a lot of details included here to support your points. However, at times these details and reflections are repeated which make some of the points lose impact. You need to simplify the points that you are making, and remove any unnecessary repetition. Also, there are additional places where paragraph breaks could be used to show a change in focus.

    Lastly, when you are giving textual details, ONLY include those that are absolutely necessary for the point that you are making. There are a number of textual details that you could take out, and the purpose of your ideas would still be clear. I strongly suggest that you edit a lot of the plot details out of your points – get to the valuable lessons you have learned/your final judgements about the text, quickly 🙂


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