What are the themes of Coelho's The Alchemist?

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The enotes Study Guide on Coelho's The Alchemist lists the following themes for the novel.  I'll add a brief explanation for each.

  • magical realism:  not just as a literary technique, but as a way of existence.  The universe conspires to help one succeed.
  • numerology:  there are four elements, four obstacles in Santiago's way, three coins, three characters speak to each other in the caravan, etc.
  • patience:  Santiago learns it as a shepherd, in the merchant's shop.  One must not hurry or one might miss omens or signs.
  • perception:  Santiago fears gypsies because of what he's heard, and accepts the robber boy because he wants to.
  • religion/spirituality:  parallels to the Bible abound:  Jesus, Joseph, Melchizedek, who even appears.
  • water:  it can be either a positive or negative force; tears represent what one must endure.

In case you're not familiar with magic realism, the world presented is a realistic world in which the supernatural exists.  That may seem like a contradiction, but all it means is that supernatural events are included in a story that is otherwise realistic.  This is different, say, from a fantasy world such as Harry Potter's, or a science fiction world such as that in Star Wars.

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