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The Alchemist: A Hero's Journey

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Joe Sartini

on 21 August 2013

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Transcript of The Alchemist: A Hero's Journey

The Alchemist: A Hero's Journey
The Original World
It is in the hills of this area (Andalusia) that our hero, Santiago, first resides and lives his normal life as a shepherd.
"It was as if some mysterious energy bound his life to that of the sheep with whom he had spent the past two years leading them through the countryside in search of food and water." (Coelho 4) This is what proves my depiction of his activity/ occupation in his original life, and the location can be proved as well. "His purpose in life was to travel, and, after two years of walking the Andalusian terrain, he knew all of the cities of the region." (Coelho 8) This proves he lived in Andalusia, a region of Spain.
Call to Action
The main force that beckons Santiago to finding his treasure is the recurring dreams he has in relation to said treasure. Many other forces reinforce and assure him that he should follow these dreams, but the dreams themselves start it all. "'I dreamed that I was in a field with my sheep, when a child appeared and began to play with the animals...
The child went on playing with my sheep for quite a while,'... ' And suddenly the child took me by both hand and transported me to the Egyptian pyramids.'...
'Then at the Egyptian pyramids,'... 'The child said to me 'If you come here, you will find a hidden treasure.'" (Coelho 13, 14) this is a quote involving Santiago informing the gypsy fortune teller of his dream that calls him to find his personal legend, proving that it was the dreams to start calling him.
Refusal of the Call
While the dreams are the first call for Santiago, he does not truly consider the notion of embarking on his quest until the King of Salem himself tries convincing him to follow the omens. It is then that he refuses the call, because before that moment, he had never truly considered following it.
"While standing at the ticket window, the boy had remembered his flock, and decided he should go back to being a shepherd." (Coelho 26) He decides he doesn't want to go looking for the treasure and his personal legend, but instead stay a shepherd and refuse the call.
Crossing the Threshold
When meeting the King of Salem, the King offers to tell Santiago where his treasure is, in exchange for one tenth of his flock (which we later learn is made up of 60 sheep), and after careful consideration. Santiago meets the king again, and the following quote occurs,
"The next day, the boy met the old man at noon. He brought six sheep with him.
'I'm surprised,' the boy said. 'My friend bought the other sheep immediately."' (Coelho 28)
This proves that Santiago wants to find his treasure (he payed the King to tell him where it is) and that he is not only willing to, but already has given up his old life and plunged into the unknown by selling his sheep so that he will live his personal legend. This is certainly crossing the threshold.
The Approach
The approach is defined as the time leading up to and preparing for the ordeal by the protagonist and his allies, and in this case, it involves Santiago seeing a vision of and warning the people of the oasis that attackers are converging on their home.
"'I want to see the chieftains, I've brought omens from the desert.'...
'The oasis is neutral ground, no one attacks and oasis.'...
'I can only tell you what i saw.'
'Tomorrow, we are going to break the agreement that says that no one at the oasis may carry arms.Throughout the entire day we will be on the lookout for our enemies.'" (Coelho 104, 105, 106)
Santiago has caused his allies of the oasis to prepare for the attack to come; causing this to be seen as the approach.
The Ordeal
As the approach suggests, there is fear of an attack coming for the oasis, and this meets all of the characteristics of an ordeal, because it threatens Santiago's life in more ways than one. He is in danger of being killed in the attack, and if the attack never comes, his own allies are going to kill him, as the head chieftain states after deciding to arm the oasis based on Santiago's vision,
"But arms cannot be drawn unless they also go into battle. Arms are as capricious as the desert, and ,if they are not used, the next time they might not function.If at least one of them hasn't been used by the end of the day tomorrow, one will be used on you." (Coelho 108)
The attack does come, which, while canceling out the previous threat, actually threatens Santiago as well.
"Before the sun had reached its high-point, five hundred tribesmen appeared on the horizon. The mounted troops entered the oasis from the north; it appeared to be a peaceful expedition, but they all carried arms hidden in their robes." (Coelho 112)
The oasis was attacked and Santiago certainly faced death, which is the definition of an ordeal.
Meeting With The Mentor
Santiago has many people elder and wiser than him that help him on his journey to complete his personal legend, but none of them do this quite extensively as the alchemist does. Santiago learns something from the alchemist as soon as he meets him,
"'I had to test your courage,' the stranger said. 'Courage is the quality most essential to understanding the Language of the World'... 'You must not give up, even after having come so far.'... 'You must love the desert, but never trust it completely. Because the desert tests all men: it challenges every step, and kills those who become distracted.'" (Coelho 111) This is just one of many occasions in which the alchemist gives Santiago advice that helps him to attain his personal legend. This constant advice that guides Santiago is why the alchemist is Santiago's mentor.
The Resurrection
After having defied death at the oasis, Santiago is forced to do it once more, and in the process reveals the answers to anything and everything he has been pondering. Santiago and the alchemist are captured by a hostile tribe on their way to the pyramids, and in order to escape them, the alchemist does something drastic that forces Santiago to learn all of the secrets of the world.
"'He needs three days,.' answered the alchemist. 'He is going to transform himself into the wind, just to demonstrate his powers. If he can't do so, we humbly offer you our lives, for the honor of your tribe.'" (Coelho 140) This is the challenge that serves as the resurrection, and to do this, Santiago must reach into the soul of the world and speak to several elements in nature, asking them how to become the wind, and in the process of convincing them and eventually meeting even God, all of Santiago's questions are answered. It is the culmination of being tested severely and learning all that he wondered that caused this moment to be Santiago's resurrection.
The Reward
At the end of his journey, Santiago has gained two things in the way of rewards. He has become enlightened in the ways of the Soul of the World and understands life (to an extent). The other reward, however, is of a material nature, and this is the one he has just found, and the one his personal legend said he was destined to have from the beginning. And it's actually located where he began.
"An hour later he had before him a chest of Spanish gold coins. There were also precious stones, gold masks adorned with red and white feathers, and stone statues embedded with jewels." (Coelho 166) This is the material treasure that his dreams spoke of,but this is not all, the boy also gained a great spiritual reward, this being during the resurrection, his view of life attained by becoming as close as he became to God.
"The boy reached through to the Soul of the World, and saw that it was a part of the Soul of God. And he saw that the Soul of God was his own soul. And that he, a boy, could perform miracles." (Coelho 152) In most cases, the reward is won after having surmounted the ordeal, and while this is not the case in this novel, I do still believe that these two treasures that Santiago has gain are undeniably the reward of this Hero's Journey.
Area of Andalusia, Spain
Tarifa, Spain
Pyramids of Egypt
Al Fayoum Oasis, Egypt
The Port of Tangier
Allies, Enemies, and Tests
Throughout Santiago's journey, he encounters multiple examples of allies, enemies, and tests, but there is one place where all three can be found along his route, and this is at the port of Tangier.
The ally that Santiago finds is the crystal shop owner, with whom Santiago works for over a year.
"I am proud of you.' he said. 'You brought a new feeling into my crystal shop. But you know that I'm not going to go to Mecca. Just as you know you are not going to buy your sheep."' (Coelho 61) The man helps Santiago by giving him a job, and by bringing to attention Santiago's feelings on following his personal legend. this helps him to make the right choice.
The enemy Santiago makes in this port is the western thief that steals all of his money.
"The boy wanted to believe that his friend had simply become separated from him by accident. He decided to stay right there and await his return... He was no longer a shepherd, and he had nothing, not even the money to return and start everything over." (Coelho 39, 40) Santiago's "friend" left him with no money and never came back, as evident by Santiago talking about how he had nothing.
The test that Santiago goes through in the port is actually caused by the enemy he made.Because the thief left him with no money, Santiago must now survive with nothing.
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