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ALLEGORY and The Alchemist

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Patricia Hinko

on 23 August 2014

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Transcript of ALLEGORY and The Alchemist

What is an Allegory?
a story in which characters, settings and actions stand for something beyond themselves.
In some types of allegories, the characters and setting represent abstract ideas of moral qualities
In other types, characters and situations stand for historical figures and events
Two Levels of Meaning
one level for its literal or straightforward meaning
second level for its symbolic, or allegorical, meaning
often intended to teach a moral lesson or to make a comment about goodness and vice.
So, what is an example?
If someone were to write a story about this snake convincing a woman to eat an apple, what would the literal story be?
What could it be referring to on a symbolic level?
How is this different from symbolism then?
Symbolism is when a SINGLE word, place, character, or object that means something beyond what it is on a literal level
An allegory involves using many interconnected symbols or allegorical figures in such as way that in nearly every element of the narrative has a meaning beyond the literal level, i.e., everything in the narrative is a symbol that relates to other symbols within the story
Meaning it connects all the symbols together for another meaning
Symbols in The Alchemist
The Desert
Urim and Thummim
Alchemy and The Desert
Transforms regular rocks into gold
People would look at regular rocks and hope they could find the value in them
Based upon this knowledge, what does Alchemy symbolize?
The Desert
Harsh conditions
Extreme heat
Little water
Despite all of this, life is present.
Santiago must go through the desert to achieve his personal legend
Knowing this, what does the desert represent?
The Oasis and Crystal
The Oasis
Beautiful place in the desert
Where Fatima lives
Gives him stability in the life of a wanderer
Knowing this, what does the oasis symbolize?
Helps fortune tellers to see things that would not otherwise be seen
Aka “crystal clear”
The crystal merchant's crystal is dirty and he has given up on his personal legend
Knowing this, what does crystal symbolize?
Books and Urim and Thummim
The Englishman reads a lot of books but is not qualified to become an alchemist because, although he has knowledge, he does not have wisdom.
Knowledge = understanding of facts
Wisdom = understanding of what is around you
Knowing this, what do books symbolize?
Urim and Thummim
Literally means “yes” and “no”
Used to gain answers when Santiago is lost or confused
They do not always give answers
Force Santiago to make his own decisions
Knowing this, what do Urim and Thummim symbolize?
Recognizes Abram as being the one to follow therefore becomes first priest
His lesson to the world is:
Many “gods” compete for our attention but there is only one true God. He is worthy of our worship and obedience. If we keep our focus on God instead of frightening circumstances, God will strengthen and encourage us so we can live a life pleasing to him.
In novel, tells of the “biggest lie”
Fate prevents us from achieving our own personal legend
Also tells Santiago that a personal legend comes from the Soul of the World
Conspires to help us but fear and routine get in the way
Knowing this, what does Melchizedek and the Soul of the World symbolize?
How do these symbols connect?
What is the overall message of the novel?
What is it an allegorical reference to?
Hint: Think about religion
Full transcript