The Alchemist Symbolism

1838 WordsApr 14, 20138 Pages
An Analysis of Mirage Symbolism In The Alchemist Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist tells the story of Santiago, a young shepherd living in an abandoned church in a small Andalusian town, who is stripped of his comfortable and safe lifestyle after an encounter with Melchizedek, an Islamic king who tells him of his “Personal Legend” (21). Melchizedek points Santiago in the direction of his treasure only after taking one-tenth of his money, giving him two stones, and a lesson on reading omens. Throughout his journey, Santiago meets new friends, has everything stolen from him three times, and travels the vast and unknown Sahara Desert all while achieving personal growth and an understanding of his life’s meaning. His journey leads him to an Oasis…show more content…
After being promised a guide to the pyramids and a short travel period he was instead left alone and without money. What had minutes beforehand seemed like a perfect way to his treasure was now only an empty promise. Soon after, Santiago is forced to work for a crystal merchant in the hopes of replacing his lost money and continuing on his quest. He works for the merchant for eleven months and during this time, continues to think less and less of his Personal Legend. He becomes skilled in this practice and begins to work towards instead, replacing his flock of sheep and returning to his past lifestyle. During this time, Santiago perceived reaching the pyramids as an impossible feat claiming “Egypt was now just a distant dream for him” and that, like a mirage, it would always be just out of his reach (56). In this way, Coelho shows that Santiago’s morale is lessening. The more that he stays at the crystal shop, the more he sees his treasure as a mirage instead of a physical object. Not only can the boy’s journey be related to mirages, so to can his relationship with Fatima. He first meets her at the oasis by the water well. They next day he returns and tells her that he loves her. From there he begins to tell her of his life as a shepherd and his search for treasure. Fatima listens patiently for a month and then finally tells Santiago her true feelings for him. She explains that she is a woman of the desert and
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