Study Guide

Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist Essay - Critical Essays

Suggested Essay Topics

Magical Realism
Consider mapping Coelho’s belief in magical realism. One of the basic tenets of magical realism is that the universe wants people to succeed: if a person is following his or her true path, forces will conspire to help. Melchizedek explains that “there is a force that wants you to realize your Personal Legend…[but] in order to find the treasure you will have to follow the omens.” Magical realism calls for people to take active roles in pursuing their dreams by paying attention and acting on lessons learned in life; success will not happen without effort. Trace the ways in which magical realism assists Santiago throughout his journey.

You may want to take a different view and argue against Coelho’s belief in magical realism. If you find it unbelievable, think about how the omens and other signs that Santiago believes in can be differently interpreted or understood. Is the universe really on his side? What evidence could you provide from other philosophies that would counter this argument?

Numerology
Coelho is far from the first to believe in the power of numbers. Almost every religion in the world holds that certain numbers have divine properties. Research the numbers three, four, seven, two, and ten, and then show how these digits have been important in Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, or Asian faiths. How do the numbers important in The Alchemist compare to your findings? What is similar or different about those magical numbers?

You may also want to take a look at the history of mathematics and see how key numbers have unlocked mysteries of the universe.

Historical Perspectives
Depending on the length of your paper, you can explore a single one of these topics or you may wish to combine two or more.

Find out more about the mystical history of the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the original Seven Wonders of the...

(The entire section is 659 words.)