Shelfari edited the themes of The Alchemist Wednesday, October 13, 2010.
- Edited the description of The Unity of Nature: In The Alchemist, the spiritual unity represented by the Soul of the World binds together all of nature, from human beings to desert sand. This idea underlies the parallel we see in the novel between the alchemist purifying metal into gold and Santiago purifying himself into someone capable of achieving his Personal Legend. According to the novel, the Soul of the World has created an ultimate desire, or Personal Legend, for everything, whether Santiago or a piece of iron. To accomplish its Personal Legend, each thing must learn to tap into the Soul of the World, which purifies it. That continual purification ultimately leads to perfection. This notion of humans, metals, and all other things sharing the same goal demonstrates that all elements in nature are essentially different forms of a single
spirit.Furthermore,over and over again we see that Santiago must communicate with nature in what the novel calls the common language of the world. Santiago’s horse, for instance, communicates with him by showing him evidence of life in an apparently barren expanse of desert, and Santiago must employ the help of the desert, the wind, and the sun in order to turn into the wind. As the alchemist says when he leaves Santiago, everything from a grain of sand to God himself shares the same spiritual essence. This pantheistic view dominates The Alchemist, and along with the individual, evolutionary theology expressed in the theme of alchemy, it forms the book’s core spiritual message.
- Edited the description of The Danger of Fear: Fear persistently comes up throughout Santiago’s journey as the primary obstacle to Santiago’s successfully achieving his Personal Legend. Santiago experiences several forms of fear: a childhood fear of having the gypsy woman interpret his dream; a material fear of losing his wealth by departing to Tangier or by joining the desert caravan; the physical fear of dying in the battle at Al-Fayoum; and the spiritual fear that he will fail to turn himself into the wind when the alchemist forces him to
try.Santiago’smentors, from Melchizedek to the alchemist, condemn fear by comparing it to materialism, and they describe it as a product of misunderstanding how the universe treats those pursuing their Personal Legends. Fear, they suggest, should become irrelevant, even in the face of death, if you faithfully pursue your dreams.Justas those who disregard fear appear as enlightened figures, fear dominates The Alchemist’s weakest characters. The crystal merchant in particular represents someone who has allowed fear to rule his life. Although he wants to make the pilgrimage to Mecca required of every Muslim, he fears that once he’s made the trip he will have nothing else to live for. As a result, he remains deeply unhappy, reinforcing the notion that fear acts as an obstacle to a happy and fulfilled life.
- Edited the description of Omens: The motif of omens serves a dual purpose in The Alchemist. For one, omens offer Santiago guidance on his journey and reassure him that the Soul of the World has endorsed his journey. As Melchizedek explains, omens make up part of the Universal Language of the World, and if Santiago taps into this language he can always find the meaning in his environment. For example, when the stones Urim and Thummim drop from Santiago’s pocket, Santiago chooses to consider the event an omen. In doing so, he continues to feel that the universe conspires to help him, and he finds meaning in the seemingly random event. In this way, the motif of omens reinforces the book’s theme of the unity of
nature.Omensalso serve to demonstrate Santiago’s spiritual growth throughout the story. The omens that Santiago experiences grow in relevance from being small, limited events to important visions that affect many lives. The vision of the hawks and approaching armies that Santiago has in Al-Fayoum, for example, tells Santiago of an assault on the oasis that could lead to the deaths of hundreds. That his omens become more and more important signifies that Santiago is getting closer to understanding the pure Language of the World.