The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho Book Review
Paulo Coelho loved to travel around the world to learn more about life. He dreamt of becoming a writer ever since he was young, and it is no surprise that he grew up to become a writer, publishing one of his most famous novels in 1988: The Alchemist. The Alchemist has earned recognition from many readers around the world, learning about how self discovery is important to find a purpose in life. Santiago, the main character, struggles with how his Personal Legend matters in life. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, a story about a boy named Santiago who is trying to find his Personal Legend, illustrates a lesson on how self discovery affects one's life and personal experiences.
In the story, “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho, a shepherd boy named Santiago has a dream about seeking a treasure. This mysterious dream occurs every time he rests under the sycamore tree near the Church. Confused and dazed, Santiago visits a gypsy woman to find out what this eventuality means. She guides him to travel to Egypt, which he then meets many others along the way, importantly, the Alchemist. He also meets Melchizedek, allegedly the King of Salem. He tells Santiago that his dream is about finding his legend and using the rocks, Urim and Thummim, to find omens. A thief took away Santiago's property, which caused him to join a caravan. The caravan reaches towards the Oasis, which leads to Santiago meeting the love of his life, Fatima. The Alchemist proves to Santiago that he must leave Fatima to continue his journey to find his legend. Santiago travels to the pyramids to dig up the treasure until thieves beat and rob him. He finds another sycamore tree, which guides him back to Spain to find his treasure.
During Santiago’s journey, Coelho reveals how self-discovery is important to find who you are and your purpose in life. At the beginning of Santiago’s adventure, an old man named Melchizedek says, “Personal Legend is a person’s only real obligation” (24). Santiago was confused about what his Personal Legend could be, but he understood that he must find it. The old man continued by saying, “ what is their reason for being” (26). Santiago realizes how his Personal Legend is important to his life and how he will discover himself. He cannot give up on this experience, yet, he must figure out who he is. Santiago prioritizes his sheep as a shepherd. Although Santiago may think his personal legend is more important now, Melchizedek reminds him how “ he should never forget about his sheep” (34). Santiago may grow as a person, but he should never forget about his past. The past experiences are what make him grow as a person and find who he is as a person.
In the review of their novel, The Guardian claimed that “The Alchemist also supplies the insight and inspiration that extends beyond Santiago’s Sahara and into all life,” and while this statement is true about the insight of the characters' lives, it also shows how self discovery can influence one’s personal experiences. Santiago struggles with finding his personal treasure during the story, understanding who or what he is trying to look for. Time goes on as he continues to search, starting to understand that his Legend is about who he is. For example, “ Personal Legend is a person’s only real obligation” (24). The people Santiago met along his journey give great inspiration to him to continue his journey. Although Santiago struggled, he gradually understood the meaning of his "Personal Legend".
Coelho captures the highs and lows of self discovery and finding a purpose in life. Santiago struggles to find where he fits in life and what way he matters. These feelings of loneliness and frustration are universal to all. Coelho invites the readers to join Santiago’s stressful journey and in his realization that he has many purposes in life and still has many more years to find them.