The Alchemist' Book Review Essay

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Introduction:

One of the best-selling books in history, ‘The Alchemist’ written by Paulo Coelho, has been translated into over seventy languages, published in one-hundred-forty countries, and sold over sixty-five million copies. It is indexed within the Guinness Book of World Records as the most translated book by a living author. The book, ‘The Alchemist’ is about following your dreams. The book talks about the Andalusian boy, Santiago, who takes a journey to Egypt and the way everybody helps him. He is a shepherd boy who wishes to vary his life. He dreams that he finds treasure around the pyramids in Egypt. He, then, consults a Gypsy fortune teller about the meaning of his frequent dream. The women interpret it as a prophecy, telling the boy that he would discover a treasure at the pyramids of Egypt. During the journey, he encounters a wise alchemist, who teaches him to realize his true self. The story unfolds his journey to Egypt by following his dream and how he achieved his legend. It explains what a personal legend is and how it affects someone’s life. The Alchemist is a mythical connotation and parable that follows the traditional form of a quest. The fundamental premise of a man who dreams of treasure in a far-off place, only to discover once he arrives there that the treasure is back where he started.

About the author:

The Brazilian author Paulo Coelho is considered one of the foremost influential authors of our times. His books have sold over three-hundred-twenty million copies worldwide, have been released in one-hundred-seventy countries, and have been translated into eighty-three languages.

Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, he shortly discovered his vocation for writing. He worked as a director, theatre actor, songwriter and journalist. In 1986, a special meeting led him to create the pilgrimage to Saint James Compostela (in Spain). The Road to Santiago was not only a common pilgrimage but a turning point in his existence. A year later, he wrote The Pilgrimage, an autobiographical novel that is thought-about the start of his career.

In the following year, Coelho published The Alchemist. Slow initial sales convinced his 1st publisher to drop the novel, however, it went on to become an international top-selling phenomenon, remaining on the New York Times bestseller list for over 427 consecutive weeks. In 2003 he received the Guinness World Record for most translations of a single title (The Alchemist) signed by the author in one sitting and several years after, in 2009, he received a new Guinness World Record for the most translated author for the same book (The Alchemist).

Summary of the play:

Santiago is a humble shepherd boy who’s with little desires–he wants to walk freely with his sheep, have some wine in his wineskin, and a book in his bag. But fate intervenes in the form of a recurring dream of a great treasure hidden thousands of miles away at the foot of the Pyramids of Egypt. When Santiago meets Melchizedek, a strange sage man who claims he is a king from a distant land, he decides to go in search of his treasure. The next day, Santiago sells his sheep and sets out to Africa to pursue his dream.

But when he got to Africa, it became clear that it was not as easy as he thought. The first day Santiago was in Tangiers, he was defrauded and left completely alone and not able to speak a single word of Arabic. At first, Santiago plans to give up and turn around. However, he remembers the words of the sage and decides to carry on–getting a job at a local crystal store. After working at the crystal shop for a year and gaining a lot of understanding about life and his “Personal Legend”, Santiago receives enough money to buy a new flock of sheep and return home. But at the last minute, Santiago decides to risk it all and join a caravan to Egypt.

Upon entering the caravan, Santiago meets an Englishman who has come to Africa to search for a famous alchemist. As they travel through the desert, the Englishman reveals to Santiago the secrets of alchemy. Santiago found that the way of thinking of an Englishman was very similar to that of Melchizedek. They both talk about the Soul of the World to which we are all connected and the need to follow our true desires or the Legend of our hearts.

When they finally arrive at the Al-Fayoum oasis, the home of the famous Alchemist, Santiago meets a beautiful girl named Fatima and soon falls in love with her. He discovers that love comes directly from the Soul of the World, like a personal legend. While walking in the desert, Santiago sees a vision of an upcoming battle. He rushes back to warn the elders at the oasis and, when his sight is confirmed, they offer him the status of a counselor. Santiago plans to stay at the oasis with Fatima, but the Alchemist finds Santiago and tells him that he will lead Santiago to his treasure.

Over again on the move, the Alchemist instructs Santiago to concentrate on his heart. Hearts are often treacherous, however, the best way to keep them from fooling you is to listen to them attentively. Almost to the pyramid, Santiago and the Alchemist were taken prisoner by a militant tribe. The Alchemist mentions to the tribesmen that Santiago is a powerful magician who can change himself into the wind. The tribesmen were thrilled and said that they would spare the lives of the men if Santiago could do it. The only problem is that Santiago had no clue what he was doing. After three days of meditating, Santiago uses his knowledge of the Soul of the World to ask the elements to help him. At first, he asked for the desert, then he asked for the wind, then he asked for the sun. Finally, he asked the Soul of the World. Immediately, the wind whips up, and Santiago disappears and appears again on the opposite side of the camp.

The Alchemist takes his leave of Santiago, who carried on to the Pyramids. Once there, Santiago was attacked by robbers. Asked what he is doing there, Santiago replies that he had a dream of a treasure buried at the base of the Pyramids. One of the robbers laughs at him and says that he has had the same dream, except that the treasure was buried in Spain. Santiago reaps that the treasure was back in Spain the entire time.

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The story then jumps forward in time and finds Santiago digging a hole at the base of the tree where he had had his initial dream. For certain, he finds a trunk full of gold–enough for him and Fatima to live happily for a long time.

Theme:

Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” theme is to always pursue your dreams and listen to your heart. At the beginning of the novel, Santiago does not know what to do with his dreams, but in the end, he has full confidence in his heart which guides him throughout his life. According to The Alchemist, personal legends are the only way for an individual to lead a satisfying life. The universe achieves perfection only if all natural objects continuously experience the cycle of realizing an individual personal legend, evolving to a higher being with a new personal legend. This notion that the individualistic pursuits of a personal legend exist as the dominant spiritual requirement, probably the only one, of life is at the heart of the Alchemist’s unique theology. The alchemist draws many of his strengths from the fact that the theme is so universal. Coelho encourages readers to pursue their dreams by focusing on the achievement of their own “personal legend”. Everyone has their very own legend, the ultimate goal of life, but many of us never pursue it. This quest is by no means easy, but we get a lot of happiness by sacrificing ourselves and struggling to pursue our dreams. In the tale of Santiago, a humble Italian shepherd boy, who pursues his legend, we additionally come upon allegory, fate, symbolism, and a worldview that everything is interrelated.

Coelho shows us that, for several people, the largest obstacle to beat is our worry of failing in the pursuit of our dreams. However, we should overcome this worry, and if we tend to do so, the universe can conspire to assist us in searching out our “personal legend”. We should build our own choices in life, and not be afraid to confiscate the shackles of security and luxury that bind us to what we all know, and instead face new challenges volitionally. Coelho also points out the universal language of alchemists spoken by all creations. The world is alive and encompasses a soul, and every component of the world, from the air to the sun, from the ocean to us, is interconnected into one.

Almighty god, the father, is also very important in The Alchemist, but it is not the way several people are accustomed to. In his novel, Coelho says that the almighty not only looks down at us from above but is interconnected with the whole world and is ubiquitous. The main idea of The Alchemist seems to hold for both groups of readers, young and old, but in numerous ways. The alchemist is seen as a motivation to go out into the world, capture the day, and seek out personal legends.

Review and analysis:

Combining the quest of a shepherd, the mystery of the alchemist, the love of a young girl, and the discovery of a treasure, we will discover a fascinating story. The world’s best-selling, The Alchemist, is a literary work that provides hopeful plots and dialogues that challenges readers’ thought. So, it's no wonder that it has a growing readership that defines the barriers between east and west. The author of this book, Paulo Coelho, has done a great job of introducing a spiritual quest wrapped in a wonderful adventure. The main character, Santiago, has a dream that drives him out of his acquainted Spanish environment to the world of North Africa. He believes he is looking for a treasure, however, he and the readers soon realize that there’s a deeper reason for the journey he has made.

The author encourages the curiosity of readers at the beginning of the novel with the dream Santiago has that hints at the possibility of hidden treasure. While the hero leaves his hometown, the audience wonders if it is just a crazy search or if the dream can become a reality. The events unfold taking this young man into the desert, finding an oasis, meeting a mentor, getting a personal intuition, and discovering the internal force while connecting to the world around him. The journey itself has an excellent appeal to the public, but the most profound question of what to do to track your dreams is a frequent question for all readers. We look at Santiago who listens to his heart when he is inspired to pursue his dreams, is open to new friends when alchemist and others come into his life and believe in true love, which would allow him to follow his dream- just as Fatima freed him to continue his quest. Certainly, each one of us has a destiny, and the discovery of this destiny means following our dreams. A mixture of East and West thoughts on a love of diversified cultural nuances keeps the attention of the readers.

Criticism:

Paulo Coelho’s alchemist offers an elegantly crafted fable about the way to “realize your destiny” so long as we’ll be able to overlook its striking flaws.

As a global bestseller with editions in 67 languages, the novel has become a cultural phenomenon. The novel tells the story of Santiago, a young Andalusian shepherd who, galvanized by a recurring dream of his predestined “personal legend”, decides to leave his leave his of wandering to travel to the pyramids of Egypt. Despite facing several obstacles, as well as losing all his cash (three times) and accidentally participating in a tribal war, he draws his courage to beat them all. From his journey, he finds treasure in his new experience as well as a budding romance. He returns from Egypt to search out literal gold and jewels at the root of the Andalusian tree, because “wherever your heart is, there you will your treasure” and “you’ve got to find the treasure so that everything you have learned along the way can make sense.”

The book shines more through beautiful prose and miniature fable nestled within the larger allegory, such as jewels in the crown. Several lines throughout the novel are like quotes one may frame and hang on the wall. For example, one parable related life to walking while holding a teaspoon with two drops of oil. As the old man in the novel says, “The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”

However, Coelho has difficulty in maintaining a balanced tone. After a while, the novel’s overwhelming euphoria becomes murky, as in this line: “Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out indeed, to be a threatening place.” Viewing the world as a “threatening place” is usually for good reason.

The author also sacrifices many depths; none of the characters have a personal fight against the surface level. Certainly, this might be a part of a fable-like story structure, however, Santiago does not have the burden to hold for quite several pages. He solves many of his issues through the intervention of the old king, a magical rock, a prophetic version, an alchemist, a monk, and fortune. Even, Fatima, his fiancé said that she is happy to be “one of the women who wait” for her lover to return as she used to, “ envy (such women) their happiness”, in doing so-talk about romantic unrealistic expectations.

References:

    1. “The Alchemist (Novel).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Oct. 2021. Web. 3 Nov. 2021. https: en.wikipedia.orgwikiThe_Alchemist_(novel).
    2. Coelho, Paulo. “The Alchemist.” StudyMode, https:www.studymode.comalchemist-notes.
    3. “About Paulo.” Paulo Coelho Website, 30 July 2021. Web. 3 Nov. 2021. https:paulocoelho.comabout-paulo.
    4. Anthony P. Arroyo. Chazelle, Damien ed. 'The Alchemist (Coelho) Summary'. GradeSaver, 28 December 2008 Web. 3 November 2021. https:www.gradesaver.comthe-alchemist-coelhostudy-guide summary
    5. “Major Themes in the Alchemist.” Major Themes of The Alchemist, https:loyolanotredamelib.orgCityThatReadssite2themes.html.
    6. Hadi, Shana E. “' The Alchemist' Is Shallow, but Inspirational.” The Stanford Daily, 27 Sept. 2018 Web. 11 Nov. 2021 https:www.stanforddaily.com20180927final-bs-the-alchemist-is-shallow-but-inspirational.
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The Alchemist’ Book Review Essay. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 18, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-alchemist-book-review-essay/
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