2 AlchemyALCHEMY—the medieval forerunner of chemistry, based on the supposed transformation of matter—especially that of base metals into goldSearch for the Philosopher’s Stone which was believed to turn base metals into silver or goldSearch for the Elixir of Life which was believed to confer youth and longevityForerunner of chemistry and medicine
3 Alchemy continued . . .Alchemy differs from modern science in the inclusion of principles related to mythology, religion, spirituality.Literature/film connections:It is a common theme in fantasy fiction.Indiana Jones and the Philosopher’s StoneHarry Potter series by J.K. RowlingFrankenstein by Mary ShelleyMagic, magical realism, witchcraft
4 What is this story?The Alchemist reads like a fable. It is also bildungsroman and has elements of a picaresque novel and magical realism as well.FABLE—a story that conveys a lesson as an exemplum- -an example of what one should or should not do.BILDUNGSROMAN--the German term for a coming-of- age story in which an adolescent protagonist comes to adulthood by a process of experience and disillusionment.
5 What is this story? (cont.) PICARESQUE—a story of a young knave's misadventures and escapades narrated in comic or satiric scenes. The picaroon frequently travels from place to place engaging in a variety of jobs for several masters and getting into mischief. The picaresque novel is usually episodic in nature and realistic in its presentation of the seamier aspects of society.MAGICAL REALISM—a literary genre or style associated especially with Latin America that incorporates fantastic or mythical elements into otherwise realistic fiction.
6 ArchetypesTHE JOURNEY—sends the hero in search of some truth or information necessary to restore harmony, justice, fertility, etc. and includes the trials and struggles the hero faces along the way.THE QUEST—the search for someone or some talisman that, when found and brought back, will restore harmony, justice, fertility, etc.THE INITIATION—a moment, usually psychological, in which an individual comes into maturity. The INITIATE gains a new awareness into the nature of circumstances and understands his/her responsibility for trying to resolve the dilemma.
7 Personal LegendAccording to Melchizedek in The Alchemist, a Personal Legend is “what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is…But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legen.” (Coelho 21)The Personal Legend is something that everyone has and knows about when they are young, but they become too afraid to achieve it as they grow older.
8 Personal Legend (continued) The Alchemist stresses the importance of one’s“obligation” to find one’s own Personal Legend—a concept that is closely connected to the idea of destiny or fate.A sign we are following our legend— enthusiasm for what we are doing
9 “Introduction”Coelho suggests that there are FOUR OBSTACLES that keep us from following our legend:The message throughout childhood that what we want is impossibleLove—fear of hurting those around usFear of the defeats we will meet—”I didn’t want it anyway.”Fear of realizing the dream—our guilty feelings for having fulfilled our dream when others haven’t
10 The story of Narcissus—with a twist “Prologue”PROLOGUE: A separate introductory section of a literary or musical work.The story of Narcissus—with a twistWhy the twist?Why do we love another—according to the story?What is the warning?How does the story of Narcissus tie in to our quest to follow our Personal Legend?Consider: What role does selfishness play in our Personal Legend?
11 Destiny It refers to a predetermined course of events. It is defined as the predetermined future of an individual.It is based on the belief that there is a fixed natural order to the universe
12 Destiny continued . . .While destiny may be seen as a fixed sequence of events, it can also be that the individual chooses his or her own destiny by selecting different paths throughout his or her lifetime.
13 FateIt refers to the force that causes events in one’s life to be inevitable.The implication is that an individual cannot control or avoid his or her fate.It is often seen as the final outcome in a course of events.
14 Fate continued . . .The word “fate” is a derivative of “fatality” or “fatalism.”It implies that there is no choice, and it ultimately ends in death.
15 So what is the difference? While the difference between the two is subtle, there is a distinction:Destiny refers to the course of events that we may choose to follow in order to achieve a goal.Fate is the force that controls everything that happens to us along the way.
16 “Difference” (continued) “Destiny is that which we are drawn towards and Fate is that which we run into.” --Wyatt Earp “Fate is the raw materials of experience. They come uninvited and often unanticipated. Destiny is what a man does with these raw materials.” --Howard Thurman
17 Fate in The Alchemist“. . . At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.” (18)The “lie”—that we are, indeed, in control of our lives.
18 OmensAn OMEN (also called PORTENT or PRESAGE) is a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future, often signifying the advent of change.Omens may be considered “good” or “bad,” but the term is more often used in a foreboding sense, as with the word “ominous.”
19 Urim and Thummim“They are called Urim and Thumimm. The black signifies ‘yes,’ and the white ‘no.’ When you are unable to read the omens, they will help you to do so But, if you can, try to make your own decision “ (30).Santiago uses them only once—in a marketplace at the beginning of his journey.They fell out of the pouch at times, which he took as an omen.Ultimately, he didn’t need them because he watched for the omens that life provided.
20 ObstaclesObstacles that Santiago meets on his way to his Personal Legend:His parents think he should be a priest.His sheep need him.He doesn’t understand the language.His money is stolen.By the time he gets enough money to set out again, he is comfortable with his life in the crystal shop.
21 Obstacles (continued) The warring tribes in the desert delay him .He falls in love with Fatima.The tribal warriors capture them and threaten to kill them.He has to turn himself into the wind.He has to complete his journey alone.The war refugees beat him up at the Pyramids.He has to make the journey back home to the place where he began his journey at the church with the sycamore tree
22 The Gypsy Woman“As a child, the boy had always been frightened to death that he would be captured by Gypsies, and this childhood fear returned when the old woman took his hands in hers” (12).“. . . dreams are the language of God. When he speaks in our language, I can interpret what he has said. But if he speaks in the language of the soul, it is only you who can understand” (13).“’I am not going to charge you anything now,’ she said. ’But I want one-tenth of the treasure, if you find it’”(14).“It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them” (15).
23 Melchizedek“It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young knows what their Personal Legend is.“At that point I their lives, everything is clear an everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives” (21).“The Soul of the World is nourished by people’s happiness To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one” (22).
24 Melchizedek (continued) “And when you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it” (22).“If you start out by promising what you don’t even have yet, you’ll lose your desire to work toward getting it”(25).“In order to find the treasure, you will have to follow the omens” (29).“’Never stop dreaming,’ the old man had said. ‘Follow the omens’” (62).
25 The Crystal Merchant“I’m afraid that if my dream is realized, I will have no reason to go on living” (55).“I’m just afraid that it would all be a disappointment, so I prefer just to dream about it” (55).“I don’t want to change anything, because I don’t know how to deal with change. I’m used to the way I am” (58).. . . every blessing ignored becomes a curse” (58).“Maktub [I]n your language it would mean something like ‘It is written’” (59)
26 The Englishman“He believed in omens. All his life and all his studies were aimed at finding the one true language of the universe” (66)“Everything in life is an omen” (70).“In alchemy, it’s called the Soul of the World. When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closest to the Soul of the World. It’s always a positive force . . It was the language with which all things communicated” (78, 80).“It’s only those who are persistent , and willing to study things deeply, who achieve the Master Work” (82).
27 The Camel Driver“But the desert is huge, and the horizons so distant, that they make a person feel small, and as if he should remain silent” (73).“We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand” (76).“[W}hen you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward Maktub” (77).
28 Camel Driver (continued) I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man” (85).“Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living in right now” (85).[The seer had told him], “the secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, what comes later will be better” (103).
29 Fatima“She smiled, and that was certainly an omen—the omen he had been awaiting, without knowing he was, for all his life. The omen he had sought to find with his sheep and in his books, in the crystals and in the silence of the desert” (93).“When two such people encounter each other . . The past and future become unimportant [There is only] the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.” “Maktub, thought the boy” (93).
30 Fatima (continued)“‘Maktub,’ she said. ‘If I am really a part of your dream, you’ll come back one day’” (97).“’Before this, I always looked to the desert with longing,’ said Fatima. ‘Now it will be with hope” (122).
31 The Alchemist“I had to test your courage Courage is the quality most essential to understanding the Language of the World” (111).“’When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream,’ said the alchemist, echoing the words of the old king” (114).“She [Fatima] knows that men have to go away in order to return. And she already has her treasure: it is you” (118).“You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his Personal Legend” (120).
32 The Alchemist (continued) “If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back. If what you had found was only a moment of light, like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing on your return” (123).“There is only one way to learn. . . It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey” (125).But you are in the desert. So immerse yourself in it. The desert will give you an understanding of the world; in fact, everything on the face of the earth will do that” (127).
33 The Alchemist (continued) “Listen to your heart. It knows all things, because it came from the Soul of the World, and it will one day return there” (127).“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say” (129).“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself” (130).“ [T]he Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream” (132).
34 The Alchemist (continued) “Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested” (132).“When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed” (134).“Trust in your heart, but never forget that you’re in the desert No one fails to suffer the consequences of everything under the sun” (135).Your eyes show the strength of your soul” (136).
35 The Alchemist (continued) “Anyone who interferes with the Personal Legend of another thing will never discover his own” (138).“If a person is living out his Personal Legend, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure’ (141)“Usually the threat of death makes people a lot more aware of their lives” (142).“From here on you will be alone” (153).
36 The Alchemist (continued) “From here on you will be alone” (153).“No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it” (158, 159).
37 Lessons“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” (11)“When someone sees the same people every day, as had happened with him at the seminary, they wind up becoming a part of that person’s life. And then they want the person to change. If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own” (16).“I am like everyone else—I see the world in terms of what I would like to see happen, not what actually does” (40).
38 Lessons (continued)”This wasn’t a strange place; it was a new one” (41).[H}e realized that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure” (42).“We have to take advantage when luck is on our side, and do as much to help it as it’s doing to help us. It’s called the principle of favorability. Or beginner’s luck” (54).“Not everyone can see his dreams come true in the same way” (56).
39 Lessons (continued)“[T]here was a language in the world that everyone understood It was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired” (62).“He had worked for an entire year to make a dream come true, and that dream, minute by minute, was becoming less important. Maybe because that wasn’t really his dream” (64).“[M]aking a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision” (68).
40 Lessons (continued)“Today, I understood something I didn’t see before: every blessing ignored becomes a curse” (58).“[There is a] mysterious chain that links one thing to another, the same chain that had caused him to become a shepherd” (72).Everyone has his or her own way of learning things” (84).“The world speaks many languages” (86).The lessons of the pastThe party of the presentThe dreams of the future
41 Lessons (continued)“The closer he got to the realization of his dream, the more difficult things became he was being constantly subjected to tests of his persistence and courage. So he could not be hasty or impatient [or] he would fail to see the signs and omens” (89).“. . . the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love It required no explanation, just as the universe needs none as it travels through endless time” (92, 93).“People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them” (130).
42 Lessons (continued)“Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place”(131).It is said that the darkest hour of the night came just before the dawn” (132).“His heart told he boy what his strongest qualities were: his courage in having given up his sheep and in trying to live out his Personal Legend, and his enthusiasm during the time he had worked at the crystal shop” (134).
43 Lessons continued “All things are one” (135). “Death doesn’t change anything, the boy thought” (142).“Yes, that’s what love is. It’s what makes the game become the falcon, that falcon become the man, and man, in his turn, the desert” (145). (Love= all things “giving back” in the chain of life.)“I have inside me the winds, the deserts, the oceans, the stars, and everything created in the universe. We were all made by the same hand, and we have the same soul” (146).
44 Lessons(continued)“[T]here’s no need for iron to be the same as copper, or copper the same as gold. Each performs its own exact function as a unique being . . .” (149).“Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World” (150).It is we who nourish the Soul of the World, and the world we live in will be either better or worse, depending on whether we become better or worse. And that’s where the power of love comes in. Because when we love, we always strive to be come better than we are” (151).
45 Lessons (continued)“The boy reached through to the Soul of the World, and saw that it was a part of the Soul of God. And he saw that the Soul of God was his own soul. And that he, a boy, could perform miracles” (152).“His life and his path had always provided him with enough omens” (166).
46 EpilogueEPILOGUE: A section or speech at the end of a book or play that serves as a comment or conclusion to what has happened.“He thought of the many roads he had traveled If he hadn’t believed in the significance of recurrent dreams, he would not have met the Gypsy woman, the king, the thief, or ‘Well, it’s a long list. But the path was written in the omens, and there is no way I could go wrong” (165).Ultimately, the treasure lies within us. The key to discovering that, however, is that we have to “travel,” to observe, and to listen—the world is full of signs and omens—if we take the time to notice.
47 Works CitedCoelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.
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