Archetypal Symbols in the Alchemist Essay

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The Alchemist was written by Paulo Coelho and it was first published in 1988. It was originally written in Portuguese and has since been translated in 67 different languages. It has sold over 65 million copies worldwide and was awarded “Best Fiction Corine International Award” in 2002. It follows a story of a boy named Santiago who is following his personal legend. The Alchemist has many archetypal themes and symbols including wise old men, women, and the nature around him. Throughout this novel, Coelho uses archetypal men. The men he uses are the Alchemist, his father, and the King of Salem. Wise old men symbolize the ‘savior’, ‘redeemer’, and the ‘guru’. The first of the three wise men that Santiago encounters is his father. His …show more content…
Santiago also encounters the palm trees which symbolize life in the desert. “The roof had fallen in long ago, and an enormous sycamore had grown on the spot where the sacristy had once stood” (Coelho 3). Santiago then encounters the same sycamore tree when he goes full circle on his journey. Another symbol is the desert. The desert represents death, and desolation. As Santiago travels across it, he learns a lot about himself and everything around him and how they are all connected to each other. One of the many others Coelho uses is water. Water symbolizes the mystery of creation; birth-death-resurrection; purification and redemption; fertility and growth. The water shows up first when he crosses the ocean. It shows him leaving his old shepherd self behind and moving forward toward his Personal Legend. It shows up again at the oasis when he first sees Fatima which represents the fertility and growth because immediately after that he falls in love with her. The three archetypal details in nature I listed are just a few of many that were used throughout The Alchemist. Three archetypal topics were used throughout The Alchemist which was the use of wise old men, women, and nature. These archetypal details made the book what it is and were among the most important details throughout the book. Archetypal details have been used in every