Monday, February 6, 2012

The Alchemist – Analysis

Number of pages : 167

The author himself.

Santiago: a young shepherd from Andalusia.
The gypsy: an old woman who interprets the boy dream.
The old man: the king of Salem whose name is Melchizedek, he teaches the boy how to get to the Pyramids and in return, he takes the tenth of his sheep.
The thief: a man who speaks Spanish, he meets the boy in the bar and steals his money.
The crystal merchant: the boy meets him in Tangiers; he works for him and makes his shop expand.
The English man: he meets the boy in the caravan that heads to Egypt.
Fatima: the beloved of the boy.
The alchemist: an old man who helps the boy to get to the Pyramids.
The thieves of the Pyramids: they meet the boy near the Pyramids and rob him of his gold.

Secondary characters:
-         The merchant of wool.
-         The merchant’s daughter: the girl that the boy wants to marry in the beginning of story.
-         The baker: a man who chooses to become a baker and gives up his dream of travelling around the world.
-         The owner of the bar: he meets the boy when he arrives at Tangiers.
-         The leader of the caravan.
-         The camel driver.
-         The oasis chiefs.
-         The chief of the tribes: he meets the boy and the alchemist in their way to the Pyramids.
-         The monk: he permits to the alchemist to use his kitchen when they are near the Pyramids.

The novel tells the story of a young shepherd from Andalusia named Santiago. When he was child, Santiago was studying theology and his family wanted him to be a priest, but the boy’s dream was to travel around the world, to see castles and to meet new people, so he decides to be a shepherd despite his father’s refusal.

One day, the shepherd meets a daughter of a wool merchant and falls in love with her. One year later, in an old church in Spain, the boy decides to return to the girl’s city to ask for her hand.

When arriving to Tarifa, he decides to visit a gypsy to interpret a dream he saw twice. The gypsy tells him that his dream means that he will find a treasure in the Pyramids and that she wants the tenth of the treasure in return of this interpretation.

First, the boy doesn’t trust the gypsy, but then he meets an old man called Melchizedeck who knows everything about his life. The old man encourages him to search his Personal Legend and promises to help him get to the Pyramids for the tenth of his sheep. He also advices him to follow the omens God sends to him and gives him two stones Urim and Thummim to help him decide in difficult moments.

In order to achieve his dream, the boy sells his flock and travels to Tangiers. When robbed of his money, the boy decides to work for a crystal merchant to buy a new flock and return to his country.

After eleven months, the boy has to choose between staying with the merchant, going back to his country and achieving his dream of finding the treasure, he choose the last one because he believes this will give him the opportunity to conquer the world and to learn more things.

In the caravan that heads to Egypt, the boy meets an English man whose objective is to see an Alchemist and learn how to prepare the Elixir of Life.

After a long journey in the desert, the caravan should stop in an oasis because of the war. In the oasis, the boy falls in love with Fatima, a woman of the desert and he almost gives up his Personal Legend. Fortunately, he meets the Alchemist who promises to accompany him to the Pyramids.

Along their way, the Alchemist teaches the boy how to listen to the messages of his heart and decode them. When they meet the tribes, the only thing that saves the boy from death is to use the universal language to talk to the desert, the wind and the sun and to transform himself into the wind by reaching the Soul of the World and praying God the most powerful.

Finally, the boy arrives to the Pyramids but he doesn’t find the treasure, then, he meets two men who robbed him of his gold. One of the thieves tells the boy that he dreamt of a treasure in some old church in Spain but he wasn’t crazy to waste his time and search it. At this moment, the boy discovers where his treasure is.

Principal ideas
  1. Many people are used to the way they live and give up their dreams because they are afraid of failure. 
  2. To achieve our dreams, we have to sacrifice and to be brave enough to change our lives. 
  3. When someone wants something, the entire universe conspires in helping him to achieve it. 
  4. Successful people are not lucky people, but those who know how to take advantage of opportunities and to follow the omens sent by God. 
  5. The secret of happiness is to try to discover new things but never to forget to enjoy what we already have. 
  6. The True knowledge is acquired from life not from books. 
  7. People learn about alchemy and the Elixir of life to be happy, when they can be happy only by achieving their dreams. 
  8. In the world, there is a universal language common to all creatures, we have to know this language and discover the Soul of the world if we want to be happy and realize our Personal Legend. 
  9. True love never keeps a man from pursuing his Personal Legend; it should encourage him to do it. 
  10. We have to listen to our hearts and to decode its messages; this will help us understand the omens and reach our dreams. 
  11. Success is a journey, not a destination: when we want to achieve a goal, we learn many things and we achieve many other goals along the way, so it’s the journey that makes us successful.
  12. Sometimes, we have to follow a long way to discover a treasure that’s so close to us. 

Novel style
The novel style is very simple and based especially on dialogue.

Points of agreement
  1. I liked the novel purpose, which is to help people be happier, braver, more confident and more powerful.
  2. The author mentions many principles that may help people achieve their dreams, such us:
    1. Sacrifice
    2. Courage
    3. Action
    4. Commitment
  3. I liked the end of the novel, when the boy discovers that the treasure is in his country, I think it’s an unexpected end and we learn a lot from it; everyone has many important opportunities close to him, but he has to live many experiences and learn a lot of things to see them.

Points of disagreement
    1. The novel contains many superstitious ideas:
      1. The gypsy who can interpret dreams and read the palm.
      2. The old man who knows everything about the boy.
      3. The two stones Urim and Thummim that help people decide of their future.
      4. The spirits who become clouds after death.
      5. The alchemy: transforming any metal to gold.
      6. The boy who transforms himself into the wind only by knowing the language of the World.
    2. To prove the power of God, we don’t need imaginary stories like the boy who transforms himself into the wind; I think we have to mention real evidence here.
    3. Some religious ideas are not correct:
      1. The Christian boy who will marry a Muslim woman, this is not possible in Islam.
      2. The Alchemist who is Muslim but drinks wine and gives reasons for that.
    4. In the novel, the boy takes a caravan from Tangiers; however, there is no desert in Tangiers, it starts in the South and the South east of Morocco.

    The story is very interesting and contains a lot of suspense. It’s a success story that encourages people achieving their dreams by giving them some advice about life.

    However, the novel contains many superstitous and incorrect ideas. So I rate the book 3/5.



    1. Hi Amal, Thanks for The analyse
      It's very rich and useful

      - I think the "The Alchemist", is an exciting novel that bursts with optimism.
      - In "The Alchemist" we can all identify with Santiago: all of us have dreams, and are dying
      for somebody to tell us that they may come true. I think is the secret of the book success :)
      - I also want to add some ideas to your analyse:

      1. "when you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that
      your wish comes true"

      2. the treasure was the journey itself, the discoveries he made,and the wisdom he acquired.

      3. Fear of failure seems to be the greatest
      obstacle to happiness

      4. when we find our "Personal Myth" and our mission on Earth we can find "God", meaning
      happiness, fulfillment, and the ultimate purpose of creation : But for me us muslim is
      the reverse : Because i believe in the existence of God that I khnow that my mission is to make life on earth better for myself and for humanity

    2. Thanks Racha for your interesting intervention :)

      For the forth point, I partially agree with you, it's true that we are believers and we know that God exists, which helps us become productive and useful for ourselves and our world. But you know, we are Muslims because we were born Muslims, our parents are Muslims and our country is based in Islam. So, I think, as intelectuals, we are responsible to prove this, to discover the world more and to learn more about its secrets, this will make our belief in God stronger. don't you think that?

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