Science has proved that all the matter in the universe is made of protons, neutrons, and electrons: energy that is always in motion. Because of this, many people have argued that every object in the universe, whether alive or not, is connected energy. Paulo Coelho subtly demonstrates this idea in his novel, The Alchemist, as the reader follows the journey of Santiago, a young shepherd in search of his personal legend. As Santiago becomes more aware of the energy of the universe, he begins to see its presence throughout his daily life and utilizes it to his benefit. Throughout the novel, Coelho uses this concept of universal energy to demonstrate how it can guide an individual to accomplish their personal legend while teaching him valuable lessons along the way.
Initially, Santiago is unaware that there is an energy that binds everything in the universe together. He learns about it when an old man confronts him to talk about a dream that Santiago had multiple times. This is intriguing because the old man, who claims he’s the King of Salem, knew about Santiago’s dream before he even mentioned it to him. In this sense, the universe had already informed him of Santiago’s dream through some form of energy. The King of Salem tells Santiago about a mysterious force within the universe saying, “ It’s a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your Personal Legend” (Coelho 24.) Through the dream that Santiago had, the energy of the universe manifested itself and gave him guidance on his own personal legend. In the movie Inception, the dreams that the main characters have utilize energy in a similar fashion. Through various dreams, the main characters are able to interact with each other and influence the real world. Both examples demonstrate how, even within dreams, the energy of the universe can manifest itself to give signs pertaining to real life.
At all times, the energy of the universe is influencing the world around it. Before Santiago learned what the energy of the universe was through conversations with the old man, the mysterious force had already been demonstrated to him in his interactions with his sheep. Besides knowing each and every one of his sheep by name and having daily communications with them, Santiago and the sheep have also developed a synchronized morning routine. Coelho describes their relationship by stating, “It was as if some mysterious energy bound his life to that of the sheep” (Coelho 6.) Through the bond with his sheep and being their shepherd, Santiago learned various lessons about life. Their company also allowed him to question how they could easily confide in him even if he killed one of them in order to survive. Together, Santiago and his sheep shared a positive bond in which he felt entitled to care for them and they, in turn, follow his guidance.
Although the bond of energy that humans can grow for animals can seem invincible, it doesn’t compare to the energies shared amongst humans. Feelings such as happiness, joy, and enthusiasm demonstrate positive energies that can be shared. Emotions are able to be shared because the protons, neutrons, and electrons that make them up are interacting with the energies around them. Coelho exemplifies the influence positive energy can have when the alchemist tells Santiago, ‘They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too’ (Coelho 155.) Striving to become better can also be interpreted as striving to become happier and spreading that happiness or any emotion felt. The tree, in the book, The Giving Tree, finds happiness in giving to the boy that continuously asks favors of her. The tree always finds a way to give to the boy what he needs: in order for him to be happy. And through his happiness, the tree finds happiness in knowing she was able to bring happiness to him.
Coelho understood that expressing emotions throughout the novel would be crucial in connecting the energies of the reader to the story. Even if the reader couldn’t understand the way the emotions expressed throughout the story signified the universal energy, Coelho knew there was one universal energy everyone could understand: love. While on his journey to Egypt, Santiago met a girl by the name of Fatima. It was love at first sight. “What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing” (Coelho 96.) In a single glance, Santiago’s energy clicked with the energy of Fatima and the world now had a deeper meaning to it. He knew that no matter where he traveled to, he would always be guided back to Fatima. The feeling of love fueled Santiago to accomplish his personal legend and then return back to her. This strong desire and motivation were also felt by Carl, the main character in the movie Up, when his wife passed away and he realized they never fulfilled their dream of visiting Paradise Falls. Fueled by his wife’s love and her energy in his heart, Carl took the dangerous journey to visit Paradise Falls in memory of her.
It is clear that the energy of the universe is an incredibly strong force that can drastically alter whatever it pleases. From showing signs in dreams, to altering the moods of those nearby, energy can do infinitely many things. However, in every situation listed, energy has influenced the choices and lives of humans. Miraculously, Santiago manages to do the opposite during the climax of the story. By speaking to the forces of the world on Earth and in the heavens, Santiago uses the energy around him to turn himself into the wind. By connecting himself to this greater energy, “he, a boy, could perform miracles” (Coelho 157.) It is at this moment that Santiago learns what alchemy truly is and how everything he experienced prior to this moment, guided him there. Coelho uses Santiago in order to exaggerate the possibilities of what anyone can accomplish in their own life if they focus on their own energy and the energy influencing them. If they can manage to harness it and surround themselves with positive energy then they can accomplish anything they desire.
Unfortunately, the world isn’t perfect and through life, an individual is just as likely to encounter negative energy, as they are positive energy. The key in this situation is to see the positivity or guidance within the message the universe is putting forth. When Santiago reaches Egypt and begins looking for his treasure, he encounters a scarab beetle that he believes is an omen sent from God. At first glance, he believes that the positive energies of the universe have again, guided him closer to his treasure. However, after momentarily digging in that location, he is confronted by several figures that proceed to beat him in hopes of him revealing the treasure hidden in the hole. The energy the figures brought to Santiago was negative in nature but through the conversation the leader of the figures had with him, Santiago learns of where his treasure truly is. After thinking about his long journey and the beating he just endured, Santiago is able to see the positive aspect when he finds out where the treasure truly is: back home.
Coelho uses the concept of universal energy in various ways throughout the story as it progresses. Once Santiago is aware of such energy, he uses its signs and signals in order to follow its path to his treasure. Through positive and negative influences, he learns about himself, life, and how the world around him is connected. Because the entire universe is moving positive, negative and neutral energy; through the language of the universe: any individual can better their lives and follow their dreams. Coelho demonstrates that through the language of universal energy, the universe is set up in order to help anyone succeed as long as they understand and can decipher its messages.