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Reading for pleasure – Assignment – 2
Submitted by: Yazhini.KRoll.no: 171102067
II B.A. English Literature (Aided)
Novel: The Alchemist
-Paulo Coelho
Some books are meant to be read and passed on. One of those books is The Alchemist. It is an excellent piece of novel by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. It has been translated into 72 languages and has sold more than 140 million copies worldwide and importantly got Crystal award by World Economic Forum.
An Andalusian shepherd Santiago has a repeated dream of treasure by the pyramids. Both the gypsy and Melchizedek encourage him to follow it literally. So he sells his flock and set off to Tangier. He is robbed and left penny less; soon he finds himself a job in a local crystal merchant shop. He took many risks to develop his job, it all paid well and he became rich in a year. He decided to follow his personal legend and so joins a caravan to Egypt. There he meets an Englishman, who has come to seek the renowned Alchemist and he also tells Santiago about the secrets of alchemy. In order to avoid raging tribal war, they stop at Al-Fayoum oasis. Santiago fell in love with Fathima, who lives there and he also saves the oasis from attack by his visions. He then escorted by the alchemist to pursue his personal legend. On his way he encountered many obstacles but he got back on his feet and reached the pyramids finally. There he again attacked by robbers and one of them tells him that he too had a exact same dream except that in his dream his treasure was in Spain. Santiago realizes that the treasure was there in Spain all the time. At the end, he found his treasure and lived happily ever after with his lady love Fathima.

Paulo Coelho explores the universal themes such as love, nature, danger of fear, reading and following one’s dream in this novel. Embedded in this journey is a desire for spiritual fulfillment, self-discovery and enlightenment. He also alludes the bible characters such as Melchizedek, King of Salem, who appears in the old testament and the stones such as Urim and thummim adds spiritual weight to the theme of religion. Paulo also used motifs such as dreams, Maktub and omens throughout the novel. The sheep symbolizes the elite living and the desert symbolizes that serious difficulties awaits for anyone in the pursuit of their personal legend. In this quote “Every blessing rejected becomes a curse.” He recalls the Santiago’s temporary desire to delay the pursuit of the treasure in order to stay with Fatima. While this seems like a good idea at the time, the alchemist, who utters these words, knows that the decision will only lead to resentment in the future.

Thus this novel is a brilliant piece of art, which had a life enhancing impact on millions of people. It is an unforgettable story about the essential wisdom of listening to our heart and , above all, following our dreams.

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