Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist

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From ancient conqueror Alexander the Great to our founding father Benjamin Franklin, from the legendary King Arthur to the 21st century tech icon Steve Jobs, stories of success seem to echo in similar patterns. A character, who has an opportunity to meet and learn from a great mind, equips himself with knowledge and confidence to seize critical moments while overcoming hurdles and eventually reach an ultimate goal. As the protagonists from Paulo Coelho’s novel The Alchemist and the movie Finding Forrester embark on a journey to pursue their personal legends, they are guided by mentors and tested by obstacles which change and shape their perspectives of the world. The main character of Coelho’s novel, Santiago, meets advisors who all push him…show more content…
The obstacles a protagonist faces are a major source of character development in a story. Santiago has many conflicts thrown at him which propel him toward a transformation from “the boy” into a wise man. At the beginning of Coelho’s novel, Santiago is a fledgling and believes his sheep have taught him everything he needs to know. When a thief cheats him out of his money, he begins contemplating the environment around him. Santiago begins to understand that life is not full of random luck and misfortune, instead, a series of circumstances one must observe and follow, called omens. On page 41, Coelho writes, “An omen. The boy smiled to himself.” In an encounter with bandits, Santiago is challenged to turn himself into the wind, as the only other option is death. The task at hand forces him to understand for himself how to connect with the desert and wind. He uses his fluency in the language of the universe to reach “through to the Soul of the world,” speak “to the hand that wrote all” (Coelho 152), and overcome the chief’s challenge. Santiago’s use of knowledge to attain a supernatural ability serves as a clear representation of his development from a wandering shepherd boy to a matured soul united with…show more content…
The supporting characters in a novel have a huge impact on the protagonist’s growth and development. As Santiago faces many difficult situations throughout the novel, his actions are guided by the mentors he encounters. Melchizedek, the King of Salem, introduces spiritual concepts to Santiago, including the idea of achieving a personal legend and recognizing omens. With Melchizedek’s words being reiterated in Santiago’s mind, he begins to look at a world from a new perspective of opportunity. When Santiago’s employers, the crystal merchant, asks why he wishes to expand his shop, he explains to him that business is booming and “we have to respond to omens” (Coelho 52). This new way of thinking is correlated with the king’s words, and portrays the effect Melchizedek’s teaching had on Santiago. Along with Melchizedek, the Alchemist propels Santiago toward unlocking new abilities without meticulously guiding him. The Alchemist throws challenges at Santiago, which he must figure out how to overcome himself with very little instruction. Giving advice such as “talk to your heart” and “don’t give in to your fears,” the Alchemist drives Santiago toward learning to turn himself into the wind. Both Melchizedek and the Alchemist’s guidance result in Santiago acquiring new spiritual abilities, and therefore, illustrates the role they

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