Monday, November 20, 2017

Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist: A Book Review

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In terms of a coming of age, hero’s journey, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist covers all of the bases. The work of fiction follows the journey of young Santiago through the trials and tribulations of life as he seeks his treasure. This treasure, something he imagined buried at the base of the great pyramids, stands as a goal within all of us. Essentially our potential, the dream we want and desire to reach but rarely take the chances to do so.

Thus Santiago is met with temptation throughout his journey. Should he abandon life as a shepherd and confront his prophetic and mystical dreams or should he understand his sheep, settle down, and talk to the girl he loves? From the opening pages, he is confronted with the reoccurrence of choice—he always seems to prosper, to improve a situation, and thus to maximize his ability. Such maximization forces the young soul to decide if he should stay put, sow roots, or move on. These questions, especially from an adult perspective, ring true as the hero must decide what he wants to be and how he wants to get there. In essence and actuality, he must learn to turn lead into gold.

The end result of said journey is obvious from page one, anyone who has read an archetypal hero epic will recognize the elements, yet the inspiration rings true. Destiny and dreams dance on the fringes of the plot, and while religious precepts intermingle, there is more emphasis on the spiritual than religious ideal with Coelho inspiring the entire time.

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