Essay on Conflicts in 'The Alchemist'

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“The Alchemist” follows the adventures of an Andalusian shepherd named Santiago. Santiago is a young teen who has a recurring dream about a treasure in the pyramids of Egypt. Santiago decides to embark on this journey after being reassured by a gypsy who tells him to go to Egypt. Then, Santiago meets this mysterious man named Melchizedek who presents Santiago with these ideas that he will put at the foundation of his beliefs for the rest of his life. As Santiago continues his journey, he unfortunately gets robbed and is forced to work for a crystal merchant so that he can get enough money for his journey. Here, he discovers an important aspect of his life after working for a year. He notices that this man has become complacent and that he gave up on his Legend. This experience helps Santiago realize that he does not want to be like this man. He appreciates everything that the merchant has done for him but he realizes that he needs to move on and continue on his quest to find the treasure.

Santiago joins a caravan crossing the Sahara Desert where a lot happens. He meets an Englishman who is seeking to learn the ways of the alchemist, a beautiful woman named Fatima, and the alchemist! While all the other characters play a role in Santiago’s growth, the alchemist plays the most influential role. He is a mentor to Santiago and teaches him to focus on following his heart and listening to his surroundings. This allowed Santiago to have immense spiritual growth and an increased understanding of everything around him. Eventually, he reaches the pyramids where the treasure is supposed to be but it is not there. It turns out the treasure is buried where Santiago used to live so Santiago goes back and finds the treasure where his first dream showed him it would be. After finding the treasure, Santiago goes back to the desert to reunite with Fatima to have a happy ending.

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Throughout the book, there has been an internal conflict within Santiago. He is constantly being tested on if he is willing to risk what he has to get further. Whether he wants to be complacent and enjoy what he has acquired so far or keep on going to find his treasure.

He faces external conflicts when he goes to the pyramid and is attacked. These two men seek the treasure but when nothing is there, they realize that Santiago must not have any treasures.

Santiago is also robbed in Tangier where he loses everything. Fortunately, he finds a crystal merchant who gives him work and Santiago also learns a very valuable lesson about complacency.

Santiago faces an external conflict with Fatima. He truly loves her and is happy to stay with her and give up on his quest for treasure. However, Fatima is a woman of the desert and is used to waiting for their loved ones and realizes that he should go fulfill his Legend. Because of Fatima, Santiago decides to go after his treasure and later returns to her.


Fear is a constant theme throughout this book. Santiago experiences fear and so do the characters he meets along the way. Santiago experiences fear when he first embarks on his journey. Should he risk everything he has to go see the world or should he stay and continue to be a shepherd? Later, Santiago gets robbed by some people in Tangier and decides to make money working for a crystal merchant. Here, Santiago learns about how a man’s fear of fulfilling his dream leads him to be complacent and give up on it. This causes Santiago to move on and voyage into the desert where he meets Fatima. Instantly, he falls in love and is ready to give up on his Legend. He fears that if he leaves, he will lose Fatima, the love of his life, forever; however, Fatima reassures him that she will be waiting for him if he pursues his quest.

Growth is a persistent theme throughout the book. Every person that Santiago meets contributes to some form of growth. Melchizedek teaches him to take risks and go after what he is destined for. The merchant teaches Santiago to not become complacent or you will lose the opportunity to fulfill your Legend. The alchemist teaches him the most by far. He understands the Soul of the World and helps Santiago to understand it as well through his quest to find that treasure. Alchemy does not only look to purify metals into gold but also seeks to purify oneself in the process which is a focal point of Santiago’s growth.

Destiny also appears to be a theme that the book follows. Santiago’s destiny is to fulfill his Legend. Melchizedek has the purpose of motivating others to pursue their Legends. Fatima does not have a Personal Legend but her destiny is to wait for Santiago’s return so they can be together.

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Essay on Conflicts in ‘The Alchemist’. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
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