Synthesis Essay on the Book 'The Alchemist'

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Can you spot any of these common symbols in your novel? What might they symbolize? In The Alchemist, sheep are one of the main symbols throughout the book. Santiago’s sheep symbolize the characters in the novel who are blind to their legends. Santiago loves and cares for his sheep, but sometimes he gets frustrated because of their basic desire for food and water. The sheep quite clearly have no desire for anything more in life than what is necessary, similar to characters such as the baker and the crystal merchant, who have yet to discover and pursue their legend. Just like the sheep, these characters are caught up in materialistic cravings and the need for social acceptance. These characteristics allow them to be deprived of the ability to value different aspects of life and often are stripped of many opportunities.


Victor Frankenstein does all his work in a solitary chamber separated from all the other apartments in the house. What can we conclude from this? We all know Frankenstein created a monster, which took him two, long, unsatisfying years in his chamber. Generally, the outcome of a piece of work is either good or bad depending on where you were when doing it. If you are in a loud, charismatic place when writing a long, boring essay, the final piece of work is most likely not going to be as good as work produced in a calm, quiet environment. Since Frankenstine was creating a monster, a dark, scary, solitary chamber away from any other sign of humanity was probably a great working environment for him as it most likely mirrored what was going on inside him. To conclude, a working environment that fits and mirrors the mood of your assignment or project is the best place to be when working on it.

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Pick an extract from your novel and make notes on the setting-

This extract is taken from when Santiago is leaving Spain to get on a ship to Morocco and the old king Melchizedek is watching him go. At the highest point in Tarifa, there is an old fort, built by the Moors. From atop its walls, one can catch a glimpse of Africa. Melchizedek, the king of Salem, sat on the wall of the fort that afternoon [...]. Melchizedek watched a small ship that was plowing its way out of the port. He would never again see the boy (86-87). At this point in the novel, Santiago is in a town called Tarifa, in Spain. The novel is set in an unknown period in the past, at least 200 years ago in a pre-modern time without cars or any modern technology. The small city setting has a huge impact on the rest of the novel as this is where he meets the old man who guides Santiago to discover and fulfill his legend. The author uses a small (rather unknown at the time) town juxtaposed with one of the characters who is introduced here. This would be the old king Melchizedek. A king is known to play a very important role in life and is someone who everyone knows. His appearing in such a small town is unusual, yet has a massive impact on Santiago.

Character analysis-

Santiago -

Is a young, Andalusian shepherd who is determined to pursue and fulfill his legend. He is the protagonist of The Alchemist. Traits: Determined, Headstrong, Curious, Adventurous. Wants to learn as much about the world as he can. Loves to travel. As the story goes on, Santiago becomes more invested in understanding the soul of the world, a mystical force that inspires everything. As the novel goes on, he is taught to pay attention to his whereabouts in the world and take in all the creation surrounding him. The Alchemist taught Santiago to read the omens in nature around him, which finally leads him to connect to the wind and the sun and The Hand That Wrote All, which is a force closely associated with God.

The Alchemist -

Is a 200-year-old, extremely powerful alchemist. He rides a white horse and dresses in black. He carries around with him a scimitar, the philosopher stone, and the elixir of life. Traits: Wise, Has supernatural abilities, Can teach. As the story goes on, The Alchemist guides Santiago to his legend, yet never gives him any direct form of instructions, as Santiago would not be able to connect with the Soul of the world this way.

Crystal Merchant -

Is a struggling merchant who owns a crystal shop on top of a small hill. He is a good-hearted, devoted Muslim, but has a crippling fear of change. Traits: Scared of change, Good-hearted, Negative personality, Afraid he’ll run out of dreams. The Merchant is a flat character, as we never see his character develop throughout the novel. He doesn't want his life to be any better and he’d rather it always be the same than have to deal with change to make it better.

Melchizedek -

Is the king of Salem. He is the first Warrior of Light that Santiago meets. He changes Santiago's destiny forever. He asks for one-tenth of Santiago's sheep to tell him where he should go to fulfill his destiny. Traits: Annoying at first, Knowledgeable, Magic. We don't see Melchizedek's character progress any further throughout the novel as the last time Santiago sees him is when he leaves Tarifa for Morocco.

Santiago's greatest epiphany-

Santiago had his greatest spiritual awakening when he met The Alchemist who helped him to understand himself and made him aware of the omens in his environment. This eventually leads Santiago to communicate with the wind and sun and The Hand That Wrote All, a force synonymous with God.

Point of view-

The story is told in the third person omniscient, which means the narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of all the characters in the novel. The narrator mainly focuses on Santiago's journey. The good thing about using this point of view is that we get to know what characters are thinking, sometimes things they wouldn't say out loud. One of the disadvantages of using this point of view is that it is quite unusual and takes a while to get used to. The author has let the readers get a more detailed insight the the different characters' personalities. The good thing is that the third-person omniscient is used consistently throughout the book and after you get used to it it is not at all confusing.

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Synthesis Essay on the Book ‘The Alchemist’. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
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