The Alchemist Essay

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Jack Herrera                                                                                                    Herrera (1)

Professor Marcielle Brandler                                                                          WC: 954

Class 07:30                                                                                                 Lessons in The Alchemist

4 April 2017                                            Deluded Dreams

In the novel, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, the author makes use of Omens in order to guide or provide encouragement for the character; however, following Omens indiscriminately, coupled with a lack of introspection or scrutiny, can lead to the character’s detriment. The book also notes how living in the present can improve happiness. Instead one should plan for the future, and abstain from sensation-seeking behavior.  The reoccurring lesson that can be inferred from this book is that omens and dreams are subjective and are to be treated appropriately.

The narrative contains traits similar to a self-help book; however, the lessons are inferred, as the character does not make informed or premeditated decisions. The Alchemist puts extreme emphasis on following destiny, which disassociated Santiago from reality. In the novel, Santiago embarks on this journey because of his dream, the influence of the gypsy, and because of Melchizedek’s influence. Santiago did not acknowledge the financial and lethal implications of embarking on such a journey. The novel puts emphasis on conflating omens, and truth or absolutes. To contrast, omens are subjective, and one omen could hold many different interpretations. In the story, Santiago brings himself into very compromising situations by following perceived omens indiscriminately. This introduces the question, what is an omen, in a metaphysical respect. The reason Santiago became so disassociated from reality, was because he was pursuing something intangible, his dream. While it is reasonable to follow one’s dream, it needs to be tangible, as well as premeditated.  The degree of introspection demonstrated by

Santiago was lacking. He is never satisfied with what he has, and pursues his ultimate goal.  This shows Santiago was a very determined individual, and the book highlights how determination breeds success. The book does not consider that, settling with what you have earned, is sometimes the smartest action.  For example, Santiago becomes very wealthy in different aspects and settings. As a part of the catholic order he practiced devotion, and accessed a wealth of knowledge. When he was a shepherd, he was free to roam the region and entitled to leisure. In the oasis, he had a wife, wealth and prestige. This shows that sometimes one may have already attained their destiny, and lacks self-examination to realize this.

When people hear an idea, it is subjected to some sort of scrutiny, even a sarcastic “okay” is sufficient. The book however, does not scrutinize the idea that a dream, merits the level of action Santiago put forward. The novel also states, “Maktuub”(Coelho) which basically means “it is written”(Coelho).  The statement or phrase is false, people are autonomous, and capable of choosing their own destiny. The book shows that scrutiny should be applied to everything. If Santiago had scrutinized his “destiny” he might have stayed in any of his former occupations, had he learned to value his wealth. The novel’s emphasis of following one’s destiny is sometimes detrimental. When one decides to adhere to a destiny unwaveringly, they are compromising the very destiny they are trying to fulfill. If a person does not introduce introspection, and does not scrutinize ideas, they can become deluded in reinforcing a destiny that may not apply to them. It is for these reasons, we must applicate logical interpretations to destiny, as well as conflate destiny with self-determined goals.

The novel also notes the benefits to living in the present. The book is correct by stating, “People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” (Coelho).            The statement essentially means, that anybody can begin working at their goals at any time. To contrast, in the novel, Santiago follows his literal dream, instead of premeditated goals. He does this on more than one occasion throughout the story, such as leaving occupations and homes for sensations seeking purposes, or “living in the now”. The lesson that makes itself apparent is, that while living for the present can be productive, however one should not neglect their future success, but instead carefully plan each course of action and consider the future implications when deciding.  The aforementioned quote denotes the importance of initiating the progression of one’s success today, instead of procrastinating. Alternate ways of living in the present is to disregard past failures, or harbor zero regret for your actions as Coelho writes, “” Don’t think about what you have left behind” The alchemist said to the boy as they began to ride across the sand of the desert.” If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back. If what you had found was only a moment of light, like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing on your return.”” (Coelho) The statement ties into the previous claim that goals or dreams must be tangible ones. The quote also uses the analogy of light being intangible, and not worth pursuit, for there is nothing to pursue. This idea is not upheld by Santiago, who deliberately leaves secure tangible situations, and compromises his wellbeing to chase “pipe-dreams”.


The Alchemist, contained many useful lessons to apply in one’s daily life, however some lessons bore negative consequences. Living for the present is only useful if one acts now for the benefit of their future. Also, when one sets a goal for themselves, they must ensure that the goal is scrutinized, tangible, and premeditated. When one follows insignificant or intangible dreams, failure or misfortune is likely to follow. When these lessons are interpreted correctly, they are inspirational to certain individuals. Unfortunately, Santiago took followed these lessons too literally, which would have led to his failure or demise. The main lesson derived from this novel is to think for yourself, and allow for introspection.


Coelho, Paulo The Alchemist. Harper Perennial,1993










Bibliography                                                           Herrera(5)

Coelho, Paulo The Alchemist. Harper Perennial,1993