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Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist - Essay Example

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Paulo Coelho attempts to address his views regarding the purpose of life and how individuals might find their own purpose in his novel, The Alchemist. The novels ultimate message is that the universe helps people who help themselves, not in itself an objectionable moral for a…
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Paulo Coelhos The Alchemist
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Download file to see previous pages Despite its best-selling nature and general acclaim, then, Coelhos story a young boy and his "Personal Legend" (22) does not make a compelling argument. This is because, when faced with scrutiny in the form of looking at the larger universe outside his novel, Coelhos notion of a purposeful and benevolent universe does not work.
The Alchemist starts with its protagonist, a young shepherd named Santiago living a simple life in the hills of Andalusia, in Spain. Santiago enjoys reading, and has had the same dream—one in which he is told of a great treasure—twice in a row. Most of the story is about his travels as he journeys to Egypt to find this treasure, and he eventually does find a chest of gold, although it turns out to have been where he was originally sleeping all along. In the epilogue, we see Santiago, now a rich man, happy not only from his new-found wealth, but from the way he has grown and the things he saw on his journey. This, we are meant to assume, is the real treasure, and it is one that ties in with the conclusion—calling it a moral might be a bit too strong—that Coelho builds up in his story from nearly the start.
Throughout the novel, Santiago is met with resistance to his dream. The leader of the bandits who attacks him tells him he needs to "learn that a man shouldnt be so stupid" (Coelho 163). After he leaves Spain he has all his money stolen in Tangiers by a man who ironically tells him that the city "is a port, and every port has its thieves" (Coelho 37). Despite these set-backs, Coelho smoothly sets up as the main premise of the novel the idea that a positive attitude and a desire for success overcomes all obstacles. This is made most explicit in the role of Melchizedek, who tells the boy the book he is reading "describes peoples inability to choose their own Personal Legends" (Coelho 18) and argues that, in fact, “when you want something, all the universe ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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