The Alchemist (Coelho)

what is the meaning of personal legend in alchemist

personal legend os santiago

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Santiago's dream is his personal legend.

The narrative arc of The Alchemist follows a relatively common formula. The hero leaves home to pursue a quest, is tested three times, and, upon succeeding, returns home as a victor. What makes The Alchemist stand apart, though, is that there are essentially two parallel quests going on in the narrative. The first is a rather familiar search for treasure. This quest, though, is merely the metaphorical double to Santiago's other journey, which is to discover his own Personal Legend. What is particularly interesting about this section is the way that (similarly to this narrative dichotomy) it straddles the great geographic division that forms the main dialectic of the physical story - namely, that between Spain and Africa. While the end of this section could have very easily come when Santiago leaves Andalusia for Africa, it instead concludes when Santiago seems to have resigned himself to merely make enough money to return to Spain. This division suggests that the main drama in the narrative is not a physical adventure–characterized by exotic lands, physical challenges or vicious enemies–but rather an interior drama (of Santiago overcoming his own fears and harnessing the willpower to achieve his Personal Legend).

The book Santiago carries with him at all times has several symbolic resonances. It distinguishes him from being a common shepherd. The merchant girl knows that he is extraordinary because he can read. The book is a source of knowledge and freedom, allowing Santiago a different, broader outlook on the world. Books also, however, propagate certain misleading ideas, as argued by Melchizedek when he claims that Santiago's book endorses the world's greatest lie. Later, the Englishman will be blocked from realizing the truths of alchemy because he is too tied to his complicated books. Fate is often described metaphorically as a book that was written by one hand. The "book of fate" would thus be the only book capable of telling the whole truth.