THE ALCHEMIST: ANALYSIS OF MAJOR CHARACTERS

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Indian Streams Research Journal
Volume I, Issue. IX, Oct. 2011
Available online at www.isrj.net
ISSN:-2230-7850
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
THE ALCHEMIST: ANALYSIS OF MAJOR CHARACTERS
ARVIND DESHMUKH
Asst. Professor
G. V. Tonpe Arts, Commerce and Science College,Candurbazar, Amaravati
Abstract:
In part one of the novel we are introduced to the main character Santiago a
young boy who dreams of travelling the world. The author also introduces a number of
terms that will reappear a number of times throughout the book, we are introduced to the
idea of a "Personal Legend" and the "soul of the world". We will become more familiar
with these terms and will journey along with Santiago to discover what the words mean.
Part one also introduces some of the main themes of the novel, love- in the unfulfilled love
Santiago feels for the merchants daughter; dreams- in the recurring dreams we learn
Santiago has, fate- in the way Melchizedeks intervenes to help Santiago.
The story is based around a lieral, santiago's search for treasure, and a
spiritual, his journey to find his personal. The book Santiago carries with him has a
symbolic meaning. It sets him apart as something different from the "norm", we see this
in the merchant's daughter's reaction to the fact that a poor shepard boy can read. The
book is a source of freedom and knowledge that allows Santiago to see the world in a
different way. This section also introduces the Moors who will recur throughout the
novel, the merchant girl's Moorish features foreshadow later events, Santiago's love for
Fatima and his journey to Morocco.
KEYWORDSThe Alchemist, Alchemist Characters, Santiago, Crystal Merchant, Melchizedek, The
Englishman, Fatima.
INTRODUCTION
The story opens with the main character, the shepherd Santiago, arriving at an abandoned church
with a sycamore growing in it in the Spanish region of Andalusia. He decides to stay the night at the church
and corrals his herd into the church grounds. He falls asleep using the book that he keeps with him at all
times as his pillow. During the night, he has a dream that he has had several times before, a dream he has
never been able to fully understand. While waking his herd, he realizes that he is very close to the animals;
they operate on the same schedule and he calls them all by name, convinced that they understand his
conversation with them. They are very simple creatures, though, wanting only food and water. At the town
that is his next destination. She is the daughter of a merchant and he has been thinking about her ever since
he left.
Title : THE ALCHEMIST: ANALYSIS OF MAJOR CHARACTERS
Source:Indian Streams Research Journal [2230-7850] ARVIND DESHMUKH yr:2011 vol:I iss:IX
THE ALCHEMIST: ANALYSIS OF MAJOR CHARACTERS
Remembering their first meeting, Santiago reminisces about how he went to the shop of the girl's
father to sell him some wool. While waiting for the shopkeeper to see him, the boy sat down to read a book.
A voice from behind him said, "I didn't know shepherds knew how to read." The voice was that of the
shopkeeper's daughter, a beautiful Andalusian girl whose features recalled the Moorish influence of the
region. The girl and Santiago waited for two hours, during which time they told each other about their
experiences, she in the town and he in the fields. The girl asked him why he was a shepherd if he had been to
school and knew how to read. He felt something which he had never felt before: the desire to stay in one
place forever. Unfortunately, at that moment, the shopkeeper appeared, bought four sheep worth of wool
and told the boy to come back in a year.
Leaving the church in the morning, Santiago is both excited and apprehensive about seeing the
girl. She could have forgotten him. As they set out, he begins to think about the lives of the sheep, and how
sheep don't make any decisions. They want only food and water and rely on Santiago for that. Surprised at
his feelings of mild resentment toward the animals, Santiago decides his recurring dream has made him
uneasy. When he gets to the town, he resolves, he will tell the girl why he knows how to read, how he went to
seminary and was originally set to be a priest, and one day got the courage to tell his family that he would
rather travel the world as a shepherd. As we learn from Santiago's memories, his father at first tried to
convince him to stay, pointing out that plenty of travelers had passed through their lands and said that they
would like to live there. In the end, however, he capitulated and gave Santiago his blessing and three old
gold coins to buy his flock. Santiago could thus see that his father himself had once had dreams of traveling
the world.
Santiago's lifestyle as a shepherd has provided him with a lot of freedom. All he has to do is allow
his sheep to lead the way for a while and he will always find a new path. The difference between him and the
sheep, though, is that the sheep never know they are on a new path. Once again, all they think about is food
and water. Santiago realizes that dreaming about what you don't have is what makes life interesting.
ANALYSIS OF MAJOR CHARACTERS
Santiago
Santiago is young shepherd who sells hes sheep flock so he can realise he´s dream. In the
narration Santiago is described as kind,brave and sympatetic. Sometimes he can be little gullible. Like
when he traveled to the city and gave hes money to this boy whom introduced himself to Santiago as guide.
But then he disappeared in to crowd leaving santiago without any money, But santiago showed guts when
he continued to fulfill he´s dream afteir being scammed. He went to work in crystal shop to gather some
money to continue he´s guest for the treasure.
He was brave when he went to tell the chieftain that the village would be attacked because if this
had not happened he have had loose he´s head. This also showed that he was sympatetic as he cared for the
lives of the villagers. He also risked himself in many situations for others which I think is altruistic.
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THE ALCHEMIST: ANALYSIS OF MAJOR CHARACTERS
At some points of the story he became little sceptical about his destiny. Like when he didn´t know
what to do when he was supposed to turn himself in to wind hes guts kicked in and he managed to pull it
trough. He also had strong belief that it was he´s destiny to find the treasure. The inner drive came from he´s
dream. I don´t think that he is so strong person but with the inner drive from the dream he could do anything.
He also was sufficient to do anything but he didn´t know that during the story , but he came to realise that
everything is reachable if you try hard enough. And I think that´s whats life is all about with alot of
motivation you can almost achieve anything. If you are willing enough you can do anything.
Old Woman
When the boy enters the house of the old woman, he is somewhat uneasy, because she prays and
acts like a Gypsy and gypsies are thieves. However, she has a picture of theSacred Heart of Jesus behind her
so he comforts himself with that thought. The old woman tells him that dreams are the language of God, so
Santiago tells her that twice he had dreamed that he was in his fields with his sheep when a child appeared
and took his hands and transported him to the pyramids of Egypt. At the pyramids, the child had told him
that if he came there, he would find a hidden treasure. Every time the child was about to tell him the location
of the treasure, he would wake up. The old woman thinks for a bit and then tells him she won't charge him
anything that day, but that he must promise to give her one-tenth of the treasure if he finds it. He swears that
he will and she tells him that it's a dream about the language of the world and is very difficult to interpret.
However, he must go to the pyramids, because if a child had shown them to him, they exist and he must find
them to become a very rich man. Santiago is a little irritated, because he could have figured that out on his
own. He leaves, deciding that he'll never believe in dreams again. He goes to the marketplace for something
to eat and to trade his book. There, he sits on a bench in the plaza watching people and maybe making new
friends. He likes life this way, because, even though he wants to meet new people, he doesn't want to
become a part of their lives. That's when they try to change you.
While he is reading, an old man sits down and strikes up a conversation. Santiago doesn't want to
talk to the man, preferring to read or think about the merchant's daughter. However, the man persists, and
because he had been taught to be respectful to the elderly, he doesn't get up or refuse to speak. The old man
picks up the boy's book and tells him that it is a good book, but one that is really irritating, because it tells the
same thing that almost all other books in the world describe: how people are unable to choose their own
Personal Legend. It also ends up saying the world's greatest lie - “at a certain point in our lives, we lose
control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.”
Eventually, the old man tells Santiago that he is the King of Salem and that his name is
Melchizedek. In spite of the boy's surprise at that pronouncement, the old man just wants to know how
many sheep he has. When the boy says he has enough, the old man responds that he can't help him if he
already has enough sheep. Santiago makes a move as if to find another bench when the man tells him that if
he gives him one-tenth of his sheep, he'll tell him how to find the treasure. Santiago fears that this man is the
old Gypsy woman's husband and that he's trying to get more information out of him. However, before he
can say anything to him, the old man bends over to write in the sand and reveals something so bright on his
chest that it almost blinds Santiago. Then, when he can see again, there in the sand are the names of his
mother, his father, the seminary he had attended, and even the name of the merchant's daughter. There are
even things there he had never told anyone.
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THE ALCHEMIST: ANALYSIS OF MAJOR CHARACTERS
The Alchemist
He is rumored to be over 200 years old and lives on the Al-Fayoum oasis. He has an advanced
sense that Santiago is coming to the oasis and knows it is his responsibility to lead him to the pyramids.
Along the way, he teaches the boy much about listening to his heart and reaching out for his dream no matter
what the cost. He never does anything for the boy except guide him and allow him to learn for himself.
The alchemist has the Elixir of Life and the Philosopher's Stone, which allow him to make any
metal into gold. That is his Personal Legend, which he had achieved many years before. His name is not
capitalized, because the title could be taken by anyone, like Santiago, who learns the truth of the Master
Work.
The Crystal Merchant
The crystal merchant serves as an important friend to Santiago during Santiago's time in Tangier,
but he also functions as a cautionary case of someone who has become complacent and given up the pursuit
of his Personal Legend. He maintains a crystal shop on the top of a hill in Tangier, and was rather successful
until the city fell out of favor as a port. Although he is a good man who is devoutly religious and kind enough
to take Santiago in, he fears pursuing his dream to make a pilgrimage to Mecca because he thinks he will
have nothing to live for once he's achieved his dream. The crystal merchant takes no pride in his
conservative approach to life, but he feels rooted in his ways.
The crystal merchant is the most fully fleshed-out irredeemable character inThe Alchemist. (The
baker is another irredeemable character, as is Santiago's own father, but we don't see either of them as much
as the crystal merchant). In other words, the novel portrays his fate as one to avoid, despite the fact that he
comes across as a good person. The crystal merchant understands that he acts foolishly in not pursuing his
Personal Legend, making it difficult to understand his motives when he refuses to change his ways, even
after Santiago shows him the benefits of taking risks. Within the context of the story, he serves as an
example of the dangers of an unfulfilled life, evident in his disappointment over his own life decisions.
Melchizedek
Melchizedek is a Biblical figure who was the King of Salem (Jerusalem), as well as a priest of God
Most High. He is also known as the “King of Peace” as well as the “King of Righteousness”. Not a lot of
information has been proven about him, but the Christian Bible gives some. The Bible states that when
Abraham was returning after a battle fought so that he could rescue his nephew, Lot, from captivity,
Melchizedek met him, blessed him, and brought him bread and wine. In return, Abraham gave Melchizedek
one-tenth of his riches from the winning of the battle, a tithe. This is how Melchizedek is most known, for
being gracious, holy, and giving bread and wine to Abraham through a religious ritual, which is similar to
the ritual Jesus did with his “body and blood”.
Melchizedek has also been thought by scholars to be a reincarnation of Jesus Christ. There are
many similarities to prove this, but also some differences. For example, the differences between these two
holy men are that Melchizedek was parentless, unlike Jesus, and in the Bible, Melchizedek's religious
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THE ALCHEMIST: ANALYSIS OF MAJOR CHARACTERS
rituals are not mentioned, while Jesus' are. There are also seven similarities between these men:
1.Both men are thought of as “kings of peace and righteousness”.
2.Melchizedek and Jesus are both sons of God.
3.They are both High Priests of God.
4.These men are both associated with the religious figure, Abraham.
5.Jesus and Melchizedek were both appointed to priesthood by God.
6.Both have a type of ritual with bread and wine.
7.These men have both anointed people in need.
This is why scholars believe Melchizedek to be a reincarnation of Jesus Christ.
Overall, this allusion was important to “The Alchemist”. By having the old man be Melchizedek, it
makes his character seem very holy and kind. If one knows who Melchizedek is, it will make one feel good
that he gave Santiago a blessing because he is very important in the religious world. This will make his
blessing strong and helpful; it will stay with Santiago and keep him safe. This is why the allusion of
Melchizedek in “The Alchemist” is important.
This picture is of Melchizedek giving Abraham bread and wine through a religious ritual on
Abraham's return from a battle and rescue of his nephew. This is an important event because it is the event
that really defines who Melchizedek is. People who know who Melchizedek is will know that this ritual of
giving Abraham bread and wine is a great moment of his. This shows that Melchizedek is holy, as well as
kind. In "The Alchemist", Melchizedek gives Santiago his blessing for his journey, which is good for
Santiago because of the religious power that Melchizedek has, his blessing will be very useful as Santiago
tries to find his treasure and finds himself looking straight into the face of danger.
The Englishman
The Englishman is a well-educated and ambitious aspiring alchemist. He is adventurous enough
to join a caravan in search of the alchemist, but is rather anti-social. He prefers to read his large collection of
books rather than interact with others or take interest in his surroundings. Because the Englishman and
Santiago share a commitment to pursuing their Personal Legends, they quickly become friends. The
Englishman, however, also challenges Santiago with his intellectual, knowledge-focused approach to life.
He teaches Santiago the value of book learning and introduces him to important concepts in alchemy, such
as the Master Work. But he must also learn from Santiago the importance of experience and friendship.
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THE ALCHEMIST: ANALYSIS OF MAJOR CHARACTERS
Because the Englishman focuses too much on his books, the alchemist believes he has not reached
the point in his personal development that would allow him to be the alchemist's protégé. Using the
Englishman as its example, the novel suggests that even though knowledge gained from books can be
useful, one should not rely on it solely and unconditionally. True wisdom comes from experience, which
one must earn through action.
Fatima
She is the beautiful young woman whom Santiago meets at a well on the oasis. She directs them to
the alchemist, but in the process of that first conversation, Santiago falls in love with her and she eventually
falls in love with him. As a desert woman, she is willing to wait for him to find his treasure and fulfill his
Personal Legend. Everything was normal, that is, until Santiago arrived. The moment she saw him, she was
in love. But once he had told her about his “personal legend”, she knew that all she could do was support him
in his journey. The day he left with the alchemist, she blew kisses into the wind, hoping that Santiago would
receive them, knowing she was safe.
The Camel Driver
Santiago meets him on the caravan journey to the oasis and from him learns all about the
importance of the present. He had lost everything to the flooding of the Nile, but now he is content to work
as a camel driver and take one day at a time.
The Tribal Chieftain
He demands that Santiago turn himself into the wind and in the process, discovers that the boy has
seen the glory of God.
CONCLUSION:
The Alchemist presents a simple fable, based on simple truths and boring descriptions and places it
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THE ALCHEMIST: ANALYSIS OF MAJOR CHARACTERS
in a highly unique situation; thus giving the bland write-up (which can be blamed on the translation) and the
everyday story the twist that made the book famous. Though I may sniff a bestselling formula in it, it is
certainly not a new one, and it is certainly not a thirty million copy worthy book. Maybe it sold many copies
because the story is short, which means that travelers read it a lot; but that is not upto me to decide.
REFERENCES:
1.http://www.freewebs.com/cnilaytown/
2.http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/literature/alchemist/character-list.html
3.http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/the-alchemist/canalysis.html
Indian Streams Research Journal • Volume I Issue IX • Oct 2011
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