The Alchemist

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  • Topic: Alchemy, Chemistry, Gypsy
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Research Paper - The Alchemist

(Alchemy, Magical Realism, Gypsies, and Fate)

Ryan Yoder, Ariana Amador, Cassie Garza, Edgar Vargas

R. Medina

AP English Lang. & Comp.

January 26, 2011

Research Paper - The Alchemist

(Alchemy, Magical Realism, Gypsies, and Fate)

The Alchemist was a book full of many meanings jumbled into one complete novel. For the most part the novel was circled around the point of defining the fate of Santiago’s life. In order to establish the fate of Santiago’s life he must visit a gypsy. Gypsies rely upon the power of alchemy to create spells and other natural things to create spells which help them define someone’s fate. Throughout the book Paulo joins these ideas with magical realism which seems to be his theme in this story. The whole novel is made to incorporate many things that normally would not be able to be combined together into a novel that is so absolutely addicting, that you will not want to put down.

The term magical realism was first used by art historian Franz Roh in 1925. It was used to describe a visual arts movements emerging throughout Europe. Nowadays it describes contemporary fiction, usually associated with Latin Americans, whose narrative blends magical or fantastical elements with reality. One of the main goals of magical realism is to see the world through another person’s eyes or perspective, presumably to help the reader open a world of alternate possibilities and meanings. “It is also characterized by paradoxical events which are never fully explained by the author, and these events are often accepted as perfectly normal and in fact usual by the characters of figures in the world of the artwork.” (4) Some popular books that have magical realism style are The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende , Love in Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Magical realism in other words, is combination of magic and existent events written in a book.

Alchemy is also a combination of magic, and science which main goal is to convert less valuable metals to gold or silver. By definition, alchemy is a way of studying and experimenting with matter that includes elements of chemistry, philosophy, and spirituality. Before the development of modern chemistry, alchemists tried to understand the changes they saw in metals and other materials that were exposed to fire and acids. “People today still practice alchemy, but modern alchemists primarily seek spiritual transformation, and base their studies on philosophy.”(1) The process of trying to make gold or silver out of cheaper metals is called transmutation. This process was practiced by almost one-hundred percent of all alchemists ever known in history. Alchemists and metal-smiths used similar techniques as well, but alchemists often saw themselves as trying to speed up or perfect the workings of nature. Some alchemists searched for the philosopher's stone, which they thought could greatly speed up the transmutation process. Many alchemists believed that they could perfect and purify materials only if they themselves were spiritually perfected and purified in the process.

Ancient societies in Egypt, India, and China practiced alchemy. Egyptian writers produced a number of written works on alchemy from approximately 200 B.C. to A.D. 200. Scholars in Arab built on these works from the 640’s to about 1200 A.D.. When alchemy reached Europe around 1100 A.D. it grew rapidly, especially in noble courts. At its peak in the 1600’s, a number of famous scientists practiced alchemy, including Robert Boyle of Ireland and the very famous, Isaac Newton of England. In the late 1700’s, many educated people began to ridicule alchemy as pseudoscientific, or falsely claiming scientific merit, and deceptive. Alchemists based their ideas on the ancient Greek belief that matter consists of four elements: water, earth, air, and fire. Alchemists also believed that all metals...
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