The Alchemist (Jonson)

write a note on the theme of lust and greed as developed in The Alchemist.

Jonson: Alchemist

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Gold- Greed

Gold is the result of successful alchemy, though the goal remains aspirational. It plays a large part in the play as the motivation for just about everything that happens. The gulls are all greedy for gold in order to achieve their dreams, and they are therefore greedy for the Philosopher's Stone. The conmen, inversely, are greedy for the gold they make by tricking the gulls into believing that they will eventually be rich.

Face's epilogue considers the fact that a theater audience similarly has handed over gold in order to be knowingly tricked with a false story on stage.



When the story of The Alchemist begins, the reader finds Santiago looking forward to a rendezvous with a merchant's daughter he met the previous year. As soon as he is convinced to go in search of his treasure, however, Santiago forgets all about the girl. Then he meets Fatima at the Al-Fayoum oasis, and thinks about giving up his quest to be with her. The difference between the two cases is two-fold.

First, what Santiago felt for the merchant girl was not love. It was merely an attraction that had no spiritual element to it. For this reason it was very easy for Santiago to shrug her off and continue with his fate. In the case of Fatima, though, everything is different. The first time that Santiago and Fatima see one another, Santiago feels that the Soul of the World is speaking directly to him. Secondly, Fatima does not encourage Santiago to abandon his Personal Legend. It is for this reason that Fatima's love does not prevent him from pursuing his fate. Since Fatima is part of Santiago's fate, she does not stand in the way of his Personal Legend. This is the fundamental difference between true love and all other love and one of the main themes of The Alchemist - namely, that true love never gets in the way of living one's life to the fullest. If one has to choose between a Personal Legend and love then that love is not true love after all.