Question by Cheer With Style: What do these things symbolize in the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho?
What might each of the following represent?
Merchant’s Daughter and Santiago’s Family
Soul of the World
Language of the World
Answer by Jo Spumoni
Santiago–the protagonist of the story; he is young and innocent, but patient, careful, and trusting in fate; he is the man on the quest for his destiny
Sheep–this is harder, but I suppose that sheep could represent common people–they follow their shepherd without any will of their own and do not seek destiny. So they are the opposite of Santiago.
I regret that I read this book a long time ago, and I don’t think I can adequately answer the next two.
Pyramids–in the text, this is sort of the promised land for Santiago. It’s where he must go to achieve his destiny. The pyramids represent something sort of mysterious and splendid–they are portrayed as isolated and sacred, a place where a man might confront his destiny.
Englishman–he’s a seeker of enlightenment, just like Santiago, but unlike Santiago, he doesn’t have an innate understanding of what this means. Kind of missing the point, he studies very carefully the language of Esperanto as well as alchemy, but neglects to truly grasp the greater purpose. He is a man who cannot take a leap of faith but who wants desperately to believe.
Fatima–she’s a love interest, of course. She represents the earthly pleasure which Santiago must leave behind in order to pursue his destiny.
Alchemist–he’s the wise teacher who understands the ways of the world and acts as a mentor to Santiago. There’s not much to say about him.
Soul of the World–the main principle of alchemy, i.e. that everything is connected by a common factor. It represents the ideal of a complete understanding the world.
Language of the World–this is much like the one above. It likewise represents one’s ability to communicate with anything and everything in the world, and by extension, to understand the connections that link it all together.
I hope that helps.
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