Critical Essays Themes in The Alchemist


Dreams: Dreams are central to The Alchemist's action as well as its meaning. Santiago's dream is the novel's inciting incident (the event that sets the story in motion), and the author's primary message seems to be that we should follow our dreams.

Fate: Fate is often cited as a reason not to pursue one's Personal Legend, as in the case of the crystal merchant, whose motto is maktub: "It is written."

Love: Without love, according to The Alchemist, our lives are incomplete. Once Santiago discovers unconditional love in the person of Fatima, however, there is little he cannot accomplish.

Omens: Introduced by Melchizedek, the king of Salem, omens are central to the action of the novel. They play a crucial role in Santiago's success, as when he correctly interprets the omen of the two hawks fighting over the desert outside the oasis.

Religion: Religion is a double-edged sword, according to The Alchemist. On one hand, Santiago has the recurring dream that sets him on his way in the sacristy of an abandoned church; on the other hand, he must abandon that church to experience his Personal Legend. Santiago learned to read because of his religious studies, but books are not especially useful to him in his quest.

Spirituality: What The Alchemist seems to suggest is that we should value spirituality in place of organized religion.

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