What is the importance of romantic love in The Alchemist?

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I love this question. Thanks for posting. I think the idea of romantic love shouldn't necessarily be confined to that of being between a woman and a man. In the story, there is a romantic love (in the traditional meaning) between Santiago and Fatima. But is there more to it than that? (Nice loaded question, huh?) The whole thrust of the story is how romantic love has the potential to drive one toward his or her dreams. While on the periphery it appears that Santiago is driven by his love for Fatima, perhaps it's more than that alone. For isn't a deep love of oneself that helps fuel us toward our desires too? Is it only for Fatima that Santiago that he subjects himself to risk and self-doubt? Could we go so far as to say that romantic love is really just a realization of any matter of the heart? Santiago loves Fatima because inside of him is a heart longing to be heard. She helps bring this out and therefore is the outwward manifestation of this so-called "inner" romantic love. Like the major theme of The Alchemist, this love was there all the time. Great question. I hope this helps.

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