Book Review Of "The Alchemist" By Paulo Coelho

1124 words - 4 pages

The book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, is interesting, very well written, and has underlying meanings which anyone could spot and others that are more difficult to find. Many of the underlying meanings are traditional proverbs or cliché saying that we teach our children and are echoed throughout hundreds of books. The protagonist, Santiago, is lead through his journey by many 'teachers' (including people, animals, the caravan, and the wind, sun, desert, etc.). These are the voices which teach things like, "Never give up on your dreams", "Listen to your heart.", and "When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." By the end of the book, a main lesson has been set forth, "the point of a quest is not the objective but the quest itself." However there are many smaller messages or happenings that are not congruent with this main one. All the meanings thrown out along the story do not lead up to the end; the ending is a flip of what we 'learned' along the way. The boy has an epic journey along which he finds his soul mate, learns to read omens and in a sense predict the future, and finds self-fulfillment and inner-peace with the world. And after all this, his 'treasure' is a chest of golds and gems? The boy learns so many great things and then the book ends on a materialistic victory. The people who 'encouraged' him throughout the book, said things equivalent to "Go get your treasure." instead of "Continue your journey." All along the way he wished to stop his search and live a content life but people kept pushing him forward. From this, the message of the book seems to be, "Never be content with what you have, you can always get more money." The only inference he gives is the many people who mention "The Pyramids". At the end when the boy asked why he couldn't have just been told where the treasure was, the voice of the alchemist answers, " wouldn't have seen the Pyramids. They're beautiful, aren't they." 'Seeing the Pyramids' was a metaphor referring to all that the boy learned along his journey. The Englishman also was in search of his Personal Legend...well, maybe. He had studied many things prior to alchemy and it seemed like the only thing that may have kept his focus in alchemy was the hope of turning lead into gold and living forever. The boy's inner values are never plainly defined. He obviously had a strong soul and dreams of living a happy life. Nowhere in his dreams of travel, was the merchant's daughter, or reading his books was there anything about money. His sheep are his companions, not his income. He does talk about selling a sheep if he needed to and his desire to get more but these things seem to be very matter-of-fact and not materialistic. He simply wanted to be happy in whatever way he lived his life. One particular quote conveys this well; "when each day is the same as the next, it's because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives...

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