Paulo Coelho’s the Alchemist is a beautiful fable about a young dreamer. It is the story of a shepherd and the chain of events that lead him to achieve the only goal he ever dreamt of. Some say that the Alchemist is overrated as an international best seller. They say that it is a book full of fancy language that, when looked at logically, does not say anything important. The critic says that lines like ‘love is a falcon’s flight over the sands’ it saying something important. However, this does not somehow mean that Paulo Coelho is telling me something important about my life. The critic continues to say that, at times in the book, Coelho seems confused by his own thoughts. Other critics say that the Alchemist teaches one a lot about life and that one has to have a creative imagination to grasp the ideas in the book. Others say that Coelho’s words are multidimensional and flexible and the interpretation is always dependent on the reader. The Alchemist communicates wise ideas in a beautiful and creative manner. It talks about how important it is for one to find their personal legend. The old king tells Santiago, “A personal legend is something you always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their personal legend is.” (23) The story also puts emphasis on the on the fact that realizing one’s personal legend is only the first step. It is after the realization when the real challenges begin. The Alchemist makes this point clear by telling Santiago, “Every search begins with beginner’s luck and ends with one being severely challenged.” Sometimes people feel the world is out to get them and that they are meant to be unhappy. “What is the world’s greatest lie? It is this: that at a certain point in our lives, we loose control of what is happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate,” the old king told Santiago, the shepherd. (18)
Santiago had gone to school, learned how to read and write. He could have chosen any profession but he chose to be a shepherd. Santiago wanted to travel and see how the people lived beyond the Spanish fields where he had grown up. Coming from a poor farming family, he knew his only chance at traveling would be if he became a shepherd. Santiago’s dream had been bigger than the average dream of wealth and fame. Santiago wanted to become a simple shepherd who knew the language of the world and its people. Santiago traveled all over Spain but soon realized that his sheep limited his traveling to only Spain. After a reoccurring dream that told him to go seek his treasure at the pyramids of Egypt, Santiago sells his sheep and starts on his long journey to the pyramids.