Archetypal Symbols in the Alchemist

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The Alchemist was written by Paulo Coelho and it was first published in 1988. It was originally written in Portuguese and has since been translated in 67 different languages. It has sold over 65 million copies worldwide and was awarded “Best Fiction Corine International Award” in 2002. It follows a story of a boy named Santiago who is following his personal legend. The Alchemist has many archetypal themes and symbols including wise old men, women, and the nature around him.

Throughout this novel, Coelho uses archetypal men. The men he uses are the Alchemist, his father, and the King of Salem. Wise old men symbolize the ‘savior’, ‘redeemer’, and the ‘guru’. The first of the three wise men that Santiago encounters is his father. His father had wanted Santiago to become a priest, but despite those wishes he had; he still gave Santiago his blessing when he told him he wanted to travel and become a shepherd. The second wise man Santiago encountered on his journey was the King of Salem. This man motivates Santiago to follow his personal legend. He tells him that his recurrent dream is true and he should follow the dream to the pyramids of Egypt. The final and most important wise man Santiago came upon in his journey was the Alchemist. The Alchemist was the one to “push him” to stay on the right path of following his personal legend, rather than staying with Fatima in the oasis. He guided him through the desert and taught him many things along the way, including about the Soul of the World and how everything is connected. “You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his Personal Legend. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love . . . the love that speaks the Language of the World” (Coelho 120). These three wise old men were very important because if Santiago had never came across them he would have just given up on his Personal Legend and just remained a shepherd for the rest of his life.

In addition, Paulo...
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