The Alchemist (Coelho)

The prologue of The Alchemist includes a unique retelling of the myth of Narcissus. The traditional understanding of this myth is that it is a warning against self-love. What is the relationship of the prologue to the rest of the story?


Asked by
Last updated by Aslan
Answers 1
Add Yours

The main difference between the retelling of the Narcissus myth in the prologue of The Alchemist and the traditional telling is that, in the version in the prologue, the lake in which Narcissus drowns also misses Narcissus because it could regard itself in his eyes. Thus, the lake is itself selfish. In many ways, The Alchemist is all about selfishness. While society tends to regard the single-minded pursuit of one's dreams as selfish, the story proposes that this single-minded pursuit is not at odds with being a moral, happy person. Central to the story of The Alchemist is the idea that one's Personal Legend, or true desire, is not at odds with the organization of the universe. In fact, the opposite is true. Discovering one's Personal Legend is the only way to understand the greater secrets of the Soul of the World. This reversal of traditional views on selfishness is foreshadowed by the unique retelling of the Narcissus story.