The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is a story by Paulo Coelho about Santiago and his interaction with different people. Importantly, the boy has a recurring and troublesome dream in which another boy tells him to seek a treasure from the foot of the Egyptian pyramids. Quite interestingly, the gypsy woman he consults advises him to go ahead to Egypt perhaps symbolizing the need to pursue his dreams. Throughout the journey, the story documents his interactions with different people including the King of Salem. The story depicts the journey as a learning process in which every contact helps Santiago in a unique aspect of his life. The choice of the crystal merchant to dream about Mecca rather than visiting the place at once is a manifestation of the value of not chasing dreams. In addition, the alchemist confirms that following a dream makes a heart suffer. All the people that Santiago interacts with contribute to his understanding of life and the general processes of life. Evidently, the theme of dreams and one’s pursuit of their dreams takes center stage in the novel thus outlining the need for pursuing one’s dream. In the end, lessons from the alchemist, Fatima and the crystal merchant prove that we learn most from the people that are not chasing their dreams as opposed to those that have made it in their lives.

The meeting of Santiago and the crystal merchant follows a fateful event in which the former is swindled off his money in Morocco. Consequently, Santiago realizes that his life is like that of normal people and decides to take the event positively. The crystal merchant therefore agrees to hire the services of Santiago and also dissuades him from visiting Egypt. Part of the proposition from the merchant is that he would give Santiago “enough money to go back to Andalusia” (Coelho, 1995) but Santiago declines the offer. Santiago only wishes to work hard enough to support his dream of buying enough sheep. Through his interaction with the crystal merchant, Santiago realizes of the value of seeing the world as it is and not how he wants it to be. The views of t5eh crystal merchant are different ad contradictory to those of the king of Salem who suggested that people who followed their dreams would be assisted by the world. Evidently, Santiago learns more from the crystal merchant than from the King of Salem thus supporting the view that people that have not followed their dreams provide a better learning opportunity. For instance, he states that he is afraid of realizing his dream because “he would have no reason to go on living” (Coelho, 1995). The stay within the premises of the crystal merchant provides Santiago with enough life skills to better his lifestyle and that of others. Part of the reason why the lessons are very important is because of the fact that the crystal merchant has not pursued his dreams. Indeed, most of the improvements done on the merchant’s business stem from Santiago’s suggestions thus providing him with an opportunity to learn and make others better.

Santiago’s interaction with the alchemist provides enormous evidence to the fact that one learns most from people that have not pursued their dreams. In fact, it is prudent to assume that most of the learning undertaken by Santiago is influenced by his interaction with the alchemist. At first, Santiago has no idea that he is interacting with the alchemist when he encounters a horseman upon his return to his tent. The horseman was “dressed in black, with a falcon perched on his left shoulder” (Coelho, 1995). The first test of Santiago’s understanding of the world is done through the drawing of blood from, his forehead using a sword. The alchemist is impressed by Santiago’s absences of fear of death and his insistence of following his personal legend. The first image of the alchemist is resonant with images of the slayer of Moors. This view is similar to Plato’s parable of the world being a poor copy of another perfect world as the one envisioned in Santiago’s imagery. The alchemist also identifies the cobra in the desert as “a symbol of life” (Coelho, 1995) thus transferring important life lessons to Santiago. His ability to face of imminent danger in the dessert provides unwavering lessons to Santiago. In this way, the two are able to pursue the dreams together as opposed to the form of learning where one reads from the life of another.

Despite Santiago remaining adamant of his intention to reaching the pyramids, Fatima almost distracts him from the dream. The beauty of Fatima coupled with the love that Santiago has for her is almost enough to persuade Santiago to remain at the oasis and watch after her. However, it is the valuable lessons that Santiago learns from Fatima that contribute to the axiom of learning from people that have not pursued their dreams. Both Fatima and Santiago have the dream of living together and have not pursued it yet. Indeed, Fatima persuades Santiago to go ahead and pursue his treasures from the pyramids in Egypt as she waits for him. The understanding with which Fatima embraces the dreams of Santiago provides enough impetus for him to follow his dreams. Through Fatima, Santiago learns a lot about life through the love they share thus making him a better person. At one point, “he learned the most important part of the language that the entire world spoke” (Coelho, 1995) by just looking at her dark eyes. This language was the language of love that provided Santiago with a deeper understanding of people and the world in general. Fatima considers Santiago’s return to her to be a present from the desert which she has always dreamed all her life. In this respect, Fatima asserts that her “present has now arrived, and it is you” (Coelho, 1995). Evidently, lessons from Santiago’s interaction with Fatima point to the value of learning from people that have not pursued their dreams.

The alchemist is a narration of Santiago and his interaction with different people across different locations. There is no denying that Santiago learns a great deal of lessons from all the interactions he makes in his life. However, one lesson is that people that have not pursued their dreams provide better lessons compared to those that are enjoying success. Indeed, lessons from Santiago’s’ interactions with Fatima, the crystal merchant as well as the alchemist provide enough support for this claim. While the crystal merchant teaches Santiago how to approach life and the beauty of living each day as if it were your last, the alchemist is equally important. Indeed, it is the alchemist that teaches Santiago the most important lessons in the entire book by providing life skills important in tackling different situations. Although somehow harsh, the alchemist hardens the life of Santiago into a better person. Lastly, Fatima is also pivotal in the enlightenment of Santiago, albeit through a softer approach to life. She encourages Santiago to pursue his dreams of pursuing his treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. Ultimately, these people provide enormous lessons to Santiago with regard to his life.



Coelho, P. (1995). The alchemist: A fable about following your dream. London: Thornsons.

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