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“Field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star,” is a line in the traditional Christmas song We Three Kings, explaining how the Three Kings were on a journey to seek the Baby Jesus. Paulo Coelho, the author of The Alchemist, engages the reader through a pilgrimage of life through his novel. This story is about a shepherd boy, Santiago, who travels from Spain to Egypt in search for a treasure which is buried in the Great Pyramids. His journey causes him to meet many people including a gypsy woman, a man who refers to himself as a king, an alchemist, and a woman named Fatima.Santiago’s pilgrimage takes him to the countries of Spain and Egypt and to places such as a desert, a crystal shop, and an oasis. Coelho suggests that individuals should not avoid their destinies, and urges all to follow their dreams. Coelho further suggests that when an individual finds his/her “Personal Myth” on Earth, he/she finds the way to “God” and to one’s ultimate happiness. Paulo Coelho skillfully utilizes rhetorical devices such as symbolism, conflict, and character motivation to engage the reader fully into the dreams, desires, and experiences of Santiago’s journey.The Alchemist is bursting with symbols that influence the reader’s perceptions of Coelho’s work. Though the symbols are concrete, they deepen the reader’s understanding of the similarities of Santiago’s joys and trials with those of all people. One of the most influential symbols in The Alchemist is the desert. Coelho states, “But the desert is so huge, and the horizons so distant, that they make a person feel small, and as if he should remain silent” (73).The desert, a harsh and challenging environment, symbolizes the serious difficulties that anyone encounters in pursuit of their Personal Legend. The desert, however, builds Santiago’s strength and perseverance as he survives its heat, its vastness, and its emptiness. Santiago realizes that even in the bare desert, he can learn about himself and the world. The next symbol of interest is the well. Santiago meets the woman of his dream, Fatima, at the well. The well symbolizes unconditional love as it reaches to the depths of the earth.On his journey, Santiago learned about the love of the world, but it is through Fatima that he learns of the love between a husband and a wife. When Santiago’s eyes reached Fatima, “…time stood still, and the Soul of the World surged within him (Santiago)…. It was love” (Coelho, 92). Another example of symbolism worth noting in The Alchemist is the word “alchemy. ” Alchemy is as process in which a base metal is transformed into a more valuable metal like gold. Santiago’s journey mirrors alchemy as his simple, shallow life transforms into a rich, deep life.In a conversation with the boy, Santiago is told, “It is true that everything has its Personal Legend…each thing has to transform itself into something better, and to acquire a new Personal Legend…That is why alchemy exists” (Coelho, 150). Alchemy is the premise for the entire novel, thus noted in the novel’s title. Coelho’s use of symbolism deepens the reader’s connection to the story as the reader can relate personally to many of the symbols used. Coelho also connects the reader to the novel through the literary technique of conflict.Conflict is frequent in The Alchemist, as Santiago is constantly faced with challenges, decisions, choices, disappointments, and hardships. Even though Santiago met many dilemmas throughout his journey to Egypt, he stayed true to his goal and never gave up. One of the most difficult challenges that Santiago encounters is saying goodbye to a woman he loved. He met a woman, Fatima, whom he immediately fell in love with. He was forced to make a choice, however, between finding his treasure and staying with Fatima.Fatima states to Santiago, “And I am part of your dream, a part of your Personal Legend, as you call it…If I am really a part of your dream, you’ll come back one day” (Coelho 97). Santiago realized that Fatima loved him enough to wait for him and that her words of encouragement helped him to pursue on with his dream. Although torn by his feelings of love, Santiago leaves Fatima to wait for him and continues on his Personal Journey. Santiago was faced with another encounter when he awoke in a marketplace of Africa and realized that he was alone, without the comfort and stability of his past.His sheep were gone so this shepherd realized that he now had time to commit to himself and his Personal Journey. Coelho writes, “He no longer had to seek out food and water for the sheep; he could go in search of his treasure, instead” (42). Santiago was faced with yet another obstacle as he was robbed by someone whom he thought he could trust. When trusting his new companion to hold his money in safe keeping, Santiago was stunned by the fact that the companion ran off through the Marketplace of Africa with the only money that Santiago had.Santiago was at first saddened by his own naivety as Coelho writes, “He wept because God was unfair, and because this was the way God repaid those who believed in their dreams” (Coelho 39). Even though Santiago was burdened with losing all his money, he realized that God knew he was a strong believer in reaching his dreams as he decided that he had to “choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventure in the quest of his treasure” (Coelho 42). The conflicts made Santiago more astute and more confident; empowering him to proceed on his journey.As revealed, the literary technique of conflict gave Coelho a tool to demonstrate how Santiago’s character developed. In a similar way, Coelho uses character motivation to demonstrate the driving force of Santiago’s journey. Character motivation is a literary technique that explains why a character acts in the way he/she does. Santiago’s personality is revealed through his words and his actions in the novel. Coelho begins by stating that Santiago has an inherent drive to pursue his Personal Journey as he writes, “The jacket had a purpose, and so did the boy.His purpose in life was to travel, and, after two years of walking the Andalusian terrain, he knew all the cities of the region” (Coelho 8). In life it takes motivation to accomplish a dream. Dreams are not always easy to reach, but with strong will, anything is possible. Santiago’s pursuit was rarely smooth. When Santiago was starting to lose faith in continuing his journey, he bumped into an old man. The old man encouraged Santiago by saying, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” (Coelho 40).Santiago’s character was trusting and pliable; becoming stronger with each encounter. As Santiago’s journey was coming to a close, he realized that he had grown as a man and that he was content with the person he had become. Coelho writes, “His heart told the boy what his strongest qualities were; his courage in having given up his sheep and in trying to live out his Personal Legend” (Coelho 134). Through character motivation, Coelho proves that Santiago came to appreciate that he was brave, confident, and strong and he realized that his mistakes and trials along the journey assisted his growth.All things considered, Coelho’s writing in The Alchemist takes the reader on a journey through life. It inspires all people to seek and find their fate and grow from each trial or failure they encounter. Coelho’s intentional use of rhetorical devices such as symbolism, conflict, and character motivation, allow the reader to fully experience the journey of Santiago’s life. Symbolism deepens the reader’s connection to the story and allows the reader to personally relate to the symbols used. The use of conflict helps develop the character, and character motivation exposes the Santiago’s personality.It is critical that all people explore the path of their Personal Journey in order to be personally fulfilled. One must seek opportunities and follow unexpected ways for his/her journey to be complete. Those who live contently may never develop into the persons they were destined to become. One’s personality and character are enhanced by all the experiences he/she encounters. Just as Don Quixote, the main character in The Man of La Mancha vowed to “dream the impossible dream and fight the unbeatable foe”, so did Santiago on his Personal Journey in Coelho’s The Alchemist. ?

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