Essay on What Is Alchemy in 'The Alchemist'

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It failed to realize what was in front of it, seeing only what it wanted to see, sort of like a veil. The Crystal Merchant, when he discovered that there were potential business opportunities outside of his comfort zone. Our Englishman. For most of the time we knew him, he was absorbed by his books. When he and Santiago tried learning in the other’s way, they failed to gain any real knowledge. At the end of the story, it is revealed that Santiago’s treasure is where the story started. He realizes the journey isn't about the treasure, but about the way there. Sometimes, to find the truth, you have to see through the veil surrounding it. Now I’ll talk about these characters and their findings of their truth in more detail, and give a little context to their character.

The Crystal Merchant of Tangier had been in his shop on top of a hilly street where few people passed for thirty years. Long ago, he was known through all of the port towns, and business was booming. But, a nearby town simply grew and expanded faster, and most residents moved there. Business was reduced to nothing, and he decided that it was too late to do anything about it. But, after a freshly robbed Santiago came in and asked for work, his little shop on the hill became relevant again. People once again began to shop there, and he felt that Santiago’s presence was a good omen. He decided to hire him, and over the year, he and Santiago made changes that increased business even further. Building a display case at the bottom of the hill as a sort of advertisement, and selling tea in the glasses. His shop exploded in popularity, yet he was saddened. Saddened by the realization of all the missed opportunities. You see, our Merchant doesn’t much care for change, so when he realized that all the roads that would lead to even greater success would require change, it deeply saddened him. Sometimes, the truth isn’t what you would like it to be.

The Englishman met Santiago in a corral whilst waiting for their caravan to depart. But, their reasons for joining were very different. Santiago had joined to get to the pyramids, and the Englishman to get to an oasis to meet the Alchemist, who was supposedly 200 years old and could transform lead into gold. He wanted to learn the secrets of alchemy, and to do that he would spend most of his time brushing up on his alchemy knowledge through his books. The only reprieve was when he was sleeping, or during the short time that he and Santiago had an agreement to try and learn in the other’s way. Santiago read his books, and the Englishman watched the caravan and the surrounding area, but the only thing they learned was that different people learn in different ways. As such, they went back to what they did best for the rest of the trip.

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Now, we can’t discuss all the side characters without talking about our main character, Santiago. At the end of the story, when he finally reaches the pyramids, he falls to his knees and sheds tears of joy because of how marvelous the pyramids are. Because he had been told that the Pyramids were just piles of stone and that you could build one in your backyard, his expectations had been lowered. The tears fell, and he remembered that he had been told, that where the tears fall, the treasure lies. He saw a scarab beetle, a good luck omen, and began to dig and dig.

Digging in the sand for hours, even when the hole refilled itself. Eventually, two refugees from the nearby wars stumbled upon him and asked for money. He declined, but they saw him digging, so they assumed that he was hiding something. They took what little money he had, and made him dig faster. When Nothing showed, they beat him half to death and asked him why he was here. He told them that he had a dream that there was a treasure, in this very spot, and so there he was. One of them told him that he had a dream, in this very spot, that there was a treasure waiting for him in an old abandoned church, underneath an old sycamore growing from where the sacristy once was, yet he wasn’t so stupid as to cross the entire desert just for something that might not even exist.

They left, and at that very moment, Santiago understood where his treasure was. He reached an old abandoned church, with an old sycamore growing from where the sacristy once was, not with a flock of sheep, but with a shovel. Here, at the beginning. Where his story started. He began to dig for hours once more. He proclaimed to the Alchemist, who had been watching over him this whole time from his home in the oasis, “You old sorcerer, you knew the whole story. You even left a bit of gold for me at the monastery so I could get back to this church. The monk laughed when he saw me come back in tatters. Couldn’t you have saved me from that?” A voice came drifting in on the wind, “No, if I had told you, you wouldn’t have seen the Pyramids. They’re beautiful, are they not?” Grinning, Santiago kept digging, until he hit a solid object. Extracting it, he laid eyes upon unfathomable riches from war years past. What they were, isn’t that important. The only important thing is that throughout his journey, he had many revelations. He discovered how to read omens, met new, interesting people who taught him interesting (and important) things, and even learned how to turn himself into the wind. If he had been told where the treasure truly was, he wouldn’t have done and learned all of these things. After all, the journey there is more important than the journey’s result.

So, what is the whole, overarching point, the message I’m trying to get across? Well, that the truth can be found, with or without assistance. The Crystal Merchant was, and still is, reluctant to change the formula, but in doing so, he started getting business again. The Englishman tried to learn from things outside his books. He failed, sure, but what matters is that he tried. Last but not least, Santiago was met with the revelation that his treasure was where his legend began. So, and ‘ this is the last time I’ll say this, my point is that you can find your legend, just sometimes you need a little push.

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Essay on What Is Alchemy in ‘The Alchemist’. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from
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