Critical Essays Symbols in The Alchemist


Cobra: The cobra is a symbol of danger and strength, especially male potency.

Crystal Glassware: Fragility and clarity are the characteristics represented by the crystal merchant's crystal glassware.

Desert: The desert is symbolic of all the obstacles and hardships that stand between people and their dreams. In The Alchemist, characters learn to accept the desert, even listen to it.

Gold: Gold represents the knowledge, work, and time necessary to achieve something desired.

Hawks: Hawks are symbolic of aggression, which can be tamed.

Horse: The horse is a symbol of strength and passion; like hawks, horses can be tamed.

Oasis: The oasis symbolizes life, love, and domesticity.

Pyramids: The pyramids represent the ancient and inscrutable.

Sacristy: The sacristy represents conventionally sacred things, which often must be abandoned to achieve true spirituality.

Shepherds and Sheep: These are symbolic for Coelho of the less-than-extraordinary; for Santiago, the alternative to pursuing his Personal Legend is a return to his life as a shepherd.

Stones Named Urim and Thummim: These stones stand for the characters' needs to respond to omens, which are essential motivating factors.

Sycamore Tree: This tree represents Egypt, the place where sycamores come from.

Thieves: Thieves represent everyone who tries to find a shortcut to his or her Personal Legend; the journey is necessary, according to The Alchemist.

Water: Life is synonymous with water in the novel, and perhaps for love too.

Well: A symbol of unconditional love, the well, it is there that Santiago meets Fatima.

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