Opinion Essay on ‘The Alchemist’ by Paul Coelho

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‘The Alchemist’ by Paul Coelho follows Santiago’s journey, an independent Andalusian shepherd, to uncover his destiny. In the present day, Santiago sleeps in the ruins of a church with his herd of sheep. He is awakened by strange recurring dreams that tell him to seek treasure in Egypt. Santiago pursues the advice of a Gypsy to tell him the meaning of this recurring dream, and she advises him to journey to Egypt. He later meets Melchizedek, the king of Salem- who advises him to travel to the Egyptian pyramids. Melchizedek assists Santiago in selling his flock before sending him off to Tangier to begin his arduous journey to Egypt. Santiago is impressed with the vastly different culture of Tangier, he meets a strange man who would later rob Santiago of his only values. The shepherd is forced to find local work at a crystal shop to gain a source of income once again, becoming acquainted with the crystal merchant. The crystal merchant, an old man states that he enjoys the comfort of an unchanging life and had aspirations to travel to Mecca, but chooses not to. Santiago teaches the merchant to change his business for the better, and both gain profits from the revived, successful business. Santiago decides to continue pursuing his destiny of the Egyptian Pyramids.

Santiago joins a Caravan on their way to Egypt, and meets several people, including an Englishman. The Englishman, as an aspiring alchemist, educates Santiago on the importance of the Emerald Tablet, Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Life. The older man explains that he searches for the Alchemist to teach him his work. During a stop in Al-Fayoum, Santiago meets Fatima- whom he interprets to be the love of his life, and the two share an instant connection between one another. The shepherd later, unknown of his talents, has a vision of an opposing army coming to attack Al-Fayoum and informs the Chieftains of the approaching assault. Al-Fayoum conquers the opposing army and survives only due to the shepherd’s insightful vision. The genuine alchemist reveals himself to Santiago upon learning of his ability to sense omens, and assists him to accomplish his journey to the pyramids. On their way to the pyramids, they’re captured by soldiers who question them on their travels. The alchemist manages to grant their freedom through the promise that Santiago will turn into wind within three days. On the third day, Santiago communicates with the sun, and the wind to help him create the illusion of him becoming one with the wind, successfully doing so and granting the freedom of both he and the alchemist. After the alchemist bids his farewell, Santiago finalizes his journey to the pyramids. The shepherd begins digging for the long-awaited treasure and is afterward assaulted by two men who mock his destiny. One of the men informs Santiago that he too had dreams of treasure hidden under a sycamore tree in the ruins of a church. Santiago realizes where the true treasure is and returns to Spain where his recurred dreams all began. The shepherd returns to the ruins of the church where he once slept and located the treasure he had been looking for all along. He fondly remembers Fatima awaiting his return.

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Melchizedek educates Santiago on the importance of taking advantage while he is young, he states that “Everyone, when they are young, knows what their destiny is...At that point in their lives... They are not afraid to dream and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives” (11). Coelho uses the king as a way to emotionally appeal to young and impressionable readers through Santiago’s perspective. The quote is of significance to Santiago’s character arc as he learns that while he is young and eager to learn, he is capable of accomplishing whatever dream he so desires. The king of Salem’s words only encourages the shepherd to accomplish his goals to travel to the Egyptian Pyramids. Melchizedek furthers his encouragement towards Santiago as he speaks of a baker in their line of sight, commenting that “When he's an old man” the baker will realize, “that people are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of' (Coelho, 11). The king reaches an older audience by communicating that the reader, no matter the age, is capable of accomplishing their dreams as much as the young and impressionable audience. Santiago learns to inspire those he comes across to fulfill their aspirations in life throughout the rest of his journey. Further on in ‘The Alchemist’, Santiago confronts the crystal merchant on why he’s never accomplished his dreams to travel to Mecca. In response, the crystal merchant states that “I'm afraid that if my dream is realized, I'll have no reason to go on living” (Coelho, 27). The crystal merchant’s hesitance on traveling to Mecca displays that some dreams may only exist for the sole reason to give a person a universal purpose to carry on. When Santiago is conversing with the camel driver, the camel driver offers advice regarding only examine the present, he states that “If you can concentrate always on the present, you'll be a happy man...Life will be a party for you, a grand festival because life is the moment we're living right now' (Coelho, 43). The camel driver’s advice is to live presently and not to be outweighed by the past as Santiago isn’t weighed down by his previous negative experiences, and rather to look to the future of what he can accomplish. At the end of the book, when Santiago is faced with a decision whether to go out to the pyramids or stay with the woman he loves, Fatima states that 'If I am a part of your dream, you'll come back one day” (Coelho, 50). Love is a recurring theme in ‘The Alchemist’, it is the universal language of the world according to alchemy, and it isn’t until Santiago is faced by the purest love that he understands that true love doesn’t simply fade away in the face of challenges.

My opinion on ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho is that it’s an excellent book that has several underlying meanings on what it is to pave one’s destiny. Coelho captures the audience’s attention through Santiago’s journey of self-discovery. ‘The Alchemist’ has several meaningful metaphors that allude to the true beauty that lies within the everyday objects or people we take for granted. Coelho’s work reminds us to recognize the underlying meaning of everything around us, regardless of whether we would’ve cared to acknowledge it beforehand. The book carries the general moral that the audience ought to follow their aspirations, and goals in life to fulfill a much greater purpose. I appreciated the morals of the story, and the inspirational tone the author conveyed through an interesting story of magic intertwined with destiny.

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Opinion Essay on ‘The Alchemist’ by Paul Coelho. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/opinion-essay-on-the-alchemist-by-paul-coelho/
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Opinion Essay on ‘The Alchemist’ by Paul Coelho [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2024 May 20]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/opinion-essay-on-the-alchemist-by-paul-coelho/

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