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The Alchemist: Themes, Motifs, Allusions, Vocabulary

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1 The Alchemist: Themes, Motifs, Allusions, Vocabulary
Alchemy: [al-kuh-mee] -noun, plural -mies for 2. 1. a form of chemistry and speculative philosophy practiced in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and concerned principally with discovering methods for transmuting baser metals into gold and with finding a universal solvent and an elixir of life. 2. any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.

2 Writing Prompt In your Literature Log, write a response to the following prompt: What is your personal legend? How would you go about pursuing it?

3 Biography Paulo Coelho has led an extremely interesting life. Rebelliousness defined his youth. He was a hippie. He wrote popular lyrics for some of Brazil's most famous pop music stars. Shortly after, he worked as a journalist. In 1986 Paulo Coelho walked the Road to Santiago, a medieval pilgrim's route between France and Spain where the remains of St. James are. He later described this experience in ‘The Pilgrimage’, published in The following year, his second book ‘The Alchemist’ established his worldwide fame.

4 Biography Paulo Coelho on the Road to Santiago

5 Themes Theme: /theem/ -noun
1. a subject of discourse, discussion, meditation, or composition; topic: The need for world peace was the theme of the meeting. 2. a unifying or dominant idea, motif, etc., as in a work of art.

6 Themes Fate versus Will
Fate is constantly intertwined with will, and a key theme of the book focuses on how much in life is under one's control, and how much is controlled by fate. The old king states that the world's greatest lie is that "at some point during our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate."

7 Themes Love Love is described as a part of the Soul of the World. Love occurs in life and Nature. As everything supports each other, they love each other. Santiago tells the desert that it shows love for the alchemist's falcon by offering it game, after which the falcon shows love to man as it offers the game to eat, and the man shows love for the desert as after one dies, his body is reintegrated into the desert sands. There is also love in people, demonstrated by Santiago's love of Fatima's beauty, and Santiago's knowing that it is part of his Personal Legend to love her. Also, there is true love, a brief definition given by the alchemist; "True love is love that allows you to reach your Personal Legend."

8 Themes Controlled Luck
The theme of controlled luck is prominent in this book, as the old king and the alchemist both tell Santiago about how if one really wants to fulfill his or her Personal Legend, the whole universe will conspire to help make it happen. Coelho refers to this as the idea of "beginner's luck", or the concept of favorability. Santiago is blessed with beginner's luck, when he decides to go to Africa. He manages to sell all of his sheep very easily, and is given "a taste of success" that whets the appetite to fulfill one's Personal Legend.

9 Themes Spiritual Enlightenment Omniscient: [om-nish-uhnt] adjective
In The Alchemist, a kind of spiritual enlightenment is accomplished by fulfilling one's Personal Legend, and adding to the Soul of the World, which is the "light" of most religions. The spiritual influence of this book is omniscient, for example in Santiago's "turning himself into the wind" stunt. He learns the Language of the World, which is basically the language of the Soul of the World. As the Soul of the World is related to the Soul of God, Santiago is able to perform miracles after he has reached into the Soul of the World. Omniscient: [om-nish-uhnt] adjective 1. having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things. –noun 2. an omniscient being. 3. the Omniscient, God.

10 Motifs Motif: [moh-teef] -noun
1. a recurring subject, theme, idea, etc., esp. in a literary, artistic, or musical work. 2. a distinctive and recurring form, shape, figure, etc., in a design, as in a painting or on wallpaper. 3. a dominant idea or feature: the profit motif of free enterprise.

11 Motifs Omens Omen: [oh-muhn] -noun
1. anything perceived or happening that is believed to portend a good or evil event or circumstance in the future; portent. 2. a prognostic. 3. prophetic significance; presage: a bird of ill omen. –verb (used with object) 4. to be an omen of; portend. 5. to divine, as if from omens. Being able to observe and read omens is a key motif throughout the book. Santiago recognizes the hole in his pouch through which Urim and Thummin fell in Tangier as an omen, as he had promised the old king that he would make his own decisions, not let the stones do it for him. The crystal merchant of Tangier recognizes Santiago's presence in the shop as an omen, as two customers came into the shop as he was cleaning the crystals for the merchant. Santiago later finds that going to the desert was a good omen, as he was able to meet Fatima, his love. Santiago reads omens in the flight of two hawks and has a premonition of an attack on the oasis as he is in the Sahara Desert. Omens play a key role in the unraveling of Santiago's fate.

12 Motifs Personal Legend
The Personal Legend is a being's reason to live. Everything in the world has a Personal Legend, and by reaching one's Personal Legend, one adds to the Soul of the World, the purity of the world. The boy's Personal Legend is obvious, to find his treasure at the Egyptian pyramids. The alchemist fulfilled his Personal Legend, to become a true alchemist and accomplish the Master Work. The crystal merchant's Personal Legend is to visit Mecca, and the Tarifa baker's Personal Legend is to travel the world. The Personal Legend of a person surfaces at childhood, and one can never find true happiness without fulfilling it. The Personal Legend of Santiago drives him to his treasure as he chooses to accomplish his Personal Legend, just as the alchemist’s was to become the most famed alchemist in the world. Others, like the Tarifa baker and the crystal merchant, choose to ignore the Personal Legend, and thus shape their life to be forever wanting.

13 Allusions Allusion: [uh-loo-zhuhn] -noun 2. the act of alluding.
1. a passing or casual reference; an incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication: an allusion to Shakespeare. 2. the act of alluding. 3. Obsolete. a metaphor; parable.

14 Allusions Melchizedek is a figure mentioned by various sects of both Christian and Judaic traditions. He is commemorated as one of the Holy Forefathers in the Calendar of Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church on July 30. Melchizedek's name can be translated (from Hebrew) as “Zedek is my king” or “My king is righteous”. In Genesis, Melchizedek is also referred to as king of Salem (generally believed to be ancient Jerusalem), and priest of El Elyon. Traditionally El-Elyon is translated as most high God, and interpreted as a reference to Yahweh (by tradition), or God (in other words, Zedek is king of Salem and priest of God). Many scholars believe that the name refers to Zedek - regarding El Elyon as referring to the most high god, and using Melchizedek's name as the indicator of who the deity was (in other words, Zekek the most high god). If the majority of scholars are right in taking the name as a reference to Zedek as the most high god (rather than “priest of God”), then it would imply that Zedek was the main deity worshipped at Salem at that time. Jerusalem is plausibly referred to as city of Zedek (ir ha-zedek) in the Book of Isaiah, as well as home of Zedek (neweh zedek) in the Book of Jeremiah, and as gates of Zedek (sha'are zedek) in the Book of Psalms, though it is also true that in each of these cases zedek is traditionally translated as righteous (as in city of righteousness).

15 Allusions Statue of Melchizedek. Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.

16 Allusions In the Tanakh, Melchizedek brought bread and wine to Abraham after Abraham's victory over the four kings (led by Chedorlaomer) who had besieged Sodom and Gomorrah and had taken Abraham's nephew, Lot, prisoner. Melchizedek is also described as blessing Abraham in the name of El Elyon (God), and in return for these favors, Abraham gave Melchizedek a tithe, from the spoils gained in the battle.

17 Allusions Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek by Dieric Bouts the Elder,

18 Allusions Tithe: [tahyth] noun, verb, tithed, tith·ing.
1. Sometimes, tithes. the tenth part of agricultural produce or personal income set apart as an offering to God or for works of mercy, or the same amount regarded as an obligation or tax for the support of the church, priesthood, or the like. 2. any tax, levy, or the like, esp. of one-tenth. 3. a tenth part or any indefinitely small part of anything. -verb (used with object) 4. to give or pay a tithe or tenth of (produce, money, etc.). 5. to give or pay tithes on (crops, income, etc.). 6. to exact a tithe from (a person, community, parish, etc.). 7. to levy a tithe on (crops, income, etc.). -verb (used without object) 8. to give or pay a tithe. In The Alchemist, Santiago must twice pay one-tenth of his possessions. In the first instance, he pays one-tenth of his flock; in the second, he pays one-tenth of his treasure. In the Biblical reference, Abraham pays Melchizedek one-tenth of his battle winnings in exchange for being blessed in the name of God.

19 Allusions Santiago A major Christian pilgrimage route:
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is the ultimate goal of the pilgrimage.The Way of St James has existed for over a thousand years. It was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times. It was considered one of three pilgrimages on which a plenary (absolute) indulgence could be earned; the others are the Via Francigena to Rome and the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Legend holds that St. James's remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where they were buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. There is not a single route; the Way can take one of any number of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. However a few of the routes are considered main ones. Paulo Coelho made the journey and wrote about it. The Pilgrimage (Diário de Um Mago, in Portuguese) is a 1987 novel by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho. It is a recollection of Paulo's experiences as he made his way across Northern Spain on the Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela in 1986.

20 Allusions The Philosopher’s Stone
The philosopher's stone is a legendary substance, supposedly capable of turning inexpensive metals into gold; it was also sometimes believed to be a means of making people younger. For a long time it was the "holy grail" of Western alchemy. In the view of spiritual alchemy, making the philosopher's stone would bring enlightenment upon the maker and conclude the Great Work. The first book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is entitled, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In the United States, the title was changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

21 Vocabulary Alchemy Theme Omniscient Motif Omen Allusion Tithe

22 Images The Alchemist in Search of the Philosophers Stone, by Joseph Wright

23 Images

24 “The Alchemist” Background
Written in 1988 1st Published in Brazil and became a best-seller Published in the U.S. in 1993 with a run of 50,000 copies Holds the Guinness World Record for the most translated book by a living author by being translated into 67 different languages. Has sold over 65 million copies worldwide

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