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Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist Essay

In Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, a boy named Santiago goes on a journey to follow his Personal Legend. Someone’s Personal Legend exists as something they have wanted to accomplish from birth. However, a “mysterious force” convinces people that they cannot realize their Personal Legend. People like Santiago have the ability to overcome this force and therefore can rediscover their Personal Legend. However, fear can hinder people from reaching their Personal Legend, which Coelho demonstrates through the craft elements of dialogue and mood.

Characters show how their fears hinder themselves from reaching their Personal Legends through their speech and dialogue. When Santiago goes to the gypsy for advice about his dream, he says “‘And what if I never get to Egypt? ’ … So the boy was disappointed; he decided that he would never again believe in his dreams. ” (15) Santiago fears that he will never get to Egypt and also fears that even if he does get his treasure, he will have to give one-tenth of it to the gypsy. This temporarily stops Santiago from further going towards his Personal Legend, until the king Melchizedek makes him continue.

When Santiago asks why the crystal seller does not go to Mecca now, he says that “‘I’m afraid that it would all be a disappointment, so I prefer just to dream about it. ’” (55) Fear hinders the crystal seller from realizing his Personal Legend: Visiting the sacred Mecca. He fears that it will disappoint him, so he chooses not to go. The dialogue gives his words a deeper effect, rather than as a thought or just told in third person, since he actually admits out loud to Santiago that he fears suffering due to his following of his Personal Legend.

At the oasis, after Santiago sees the hawks as omens, he talks to the camel driver about what to do. The driver tells him to explain to the tribal chieftains that the armies will attack the oasis, he says, “‘They’ll laugh at me’ … ‘Well, then, they probably already know. ’” (103-104) Santiago fears that he will humiliate himself in front of the tribal chieftains and fears that he misinterpreted the omens as well, and if the camel driver didn’t convince him to tell them in the end, it would have hindered him from reaching his Personal Legend due to a surprise attack from the enemy army.

The dialogue of these characters express their fear of reaching closer to their Personal Legend, due to fear of failure and/or disappointment. The craft element of mood also helps to convey this theme. When Santiago proposes to sell tea in the crystal glasses, “as [the crystal seller] smothered the coals in the hookah, he told the boy that he could begin to sell tea in the crystal glasses. Sometimes, there’s just no way to hold back the river. ” (59) The mood in this passage gives the feeling that he should just go with what the hand has written.

The crystal seller knows that selling tea in the crystal glasses will surely increase his revenue. If he has the money he would have to go to Mecca, he would have to go, which he fears. However, in this case, he overcomes the fear that would have hindered him from reaching his Personal Legend of visiting Mecca. After being captured by a warring tribe, when Santiago has to turn himself into the wind, at one point, he felt that “the desert only moments ago had been endless and free, and now it was an impenetrable wall. ” (141) The mood consists of hopelessness and fear.

Feeling hopeless and fearful definitely will not get Santiago any closer to turning himself into the wind, which would help him reach his Personal Legend. In this way, the current mood hinders Santiago from getting closer to his Personal Legend. The moods of these events help show how emotions can affect people on their way to realizing their Personal Legend. Dialogue can also show the mood, which effectively shows the theme. The Englishman talks about alchemy at the oasis and says “‘It was my fear of failure that first kept me from attempting the Master Work.

Now, I’m beginning what I could have started ten years ago. But I’m happy at least that I didn’t wait twenty years. ’” (99) The Englishman feels retrospective and has a slight feeling of regret. The mood shows how the Englishman regrets having waited so long to begin attempting the Master Work due to his fear, and that if he had not overcome the fear then, the fear of failure would have hindered him and even completely stopped him from achieving his Personal Legend, achieving the Master Work.

At the warring tribe’s camp, Santiago says “‘If I’m not able to turn myself into the wind, we’re going to die. … ‘Why feed your falcon? ’” (143) Santiago feels desperation, and again, fear. Santiago now has the fear of failure, and therefore can result in failure to achieve his Personal Legend, which he fears. The mood shows how fear will hinder people from achieving their Personal Legends, since his fear causes him to make no progress toward his goal of turning himself into the wind. When he overcomes this fear, he satisfies the chief by making the wind blow so hard that it almost destroys the camp.

The mood of fearfulness shows how the fear hinders people like Santiago from achieving their Personal Legends. Those who discover their Personal Legend fear failure and subsequently suffering, so many, even though they know about their Personal Legend, decide not to actively follow it. If they do not overcome this fear, they will never reach their Personal Legend. Fear only slows down more determined people like Santiago, who can overcome their fear and reach their Personal Legend. When one overcomes this fear they can effectively work towards their Personal Legend and eventually can find success.

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