In Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, what might the following characters symbolize: the gypsy woman, Melchizedek, the crystal merchant, the alchemist, and Santiago?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Paulo Coelho'sThe Alchemistis full of symbolism and the characters are just one part of it. Coelho merges Christian and Islamic imagery and symbolism to move his story and theme forward; hence, the main character, Santiago, represents every man (or woman) born on the earth. Each of us can be like Santiago and search for our personal legend. Opposite of Santiago might be the crystal merchant who represents most everyone else in life; those who are older, have found their niche in life, and feel comfortable in what they are doing to the point that they don't want to seek out their personal legend. Melchizedek represents the spiritual guide, inspiration, or motivating force that sets Santiago on his journey. Melchizedek is a biblical name that refers to a man who even Abraham of the old testament paid his tithing to, so he is a great and powerful man and an image of authority and credibility over the spiritual. (The fact that he has the Urim and Thummim also help to solidify his credibility because those stones are also mentioned throughout history as being spiritual tools.) The gypsy woman represents those who take truth and twist it for personal gain, like soothsayers; and The Alchemist is the master teacher and Christ-like figure who teaches Santiago what he needs to know to achieve his goals.

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The Alchemist

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