The Alchemist (Jonson)

how does coelho set the tone of the book within the first couple of pages

i think the pages are 3-10 above the star but i need help

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The Alchemist reads like an ancient myth or fable. It is simple, direct, and overtly didactic. It also has elements of a picaresque, an episodic tale detailing a hero’s adventures during his quest.

The prologue of the Alchemist runs only a little more than one page, but it gives the reader several clues about what to expect in the story. The alchemist says the book containing the story of Narcissus belonged to someone in “the caravan,” hinting that a journey may occur during the course of the tale. The alchemist also expresses surprise that the author of the book extended the popular legend of Narcissus past its traditional conclusion. The usual version of the legend ends as Narcissus dies looking into a lake, illustrating the danger of vanity. In the version Santiago reads, however, we learn that the lake felt upset that Narcissus had drowned, because it enjoyed feeding its own vanity while looking into Narcissus’s eyes. This idea, that vanity can serve a good cause despite its perils, will become an important theme of the book. The Narcissus story also readies the reader for the magical, mythic quality of The Alchemist. It introduces us to a world where a lake can speak, goddesses roam the countryside, and magic is a fact of life.