The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho | Skillshare Projects

Hannah Suzanna

Exploring Existence



The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

DEC 19, 2013

Phew, ok. It's after finals now (YAY GRADUATING COLLEGE!) and I can spend some time on this project. 


"My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy told the alchemist one night as the looked up at the moonless sky.

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams."

The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepard boy who travels in search of a worldly treasure. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist.

The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and above all, following our dreams. 

I've already read this book a couple times in my life—once when I was twelve, once as a senior in high school. Now that I'm finally out of the education system and in the 'real' world, reading a book about following your dreams seemed like a good idea. 



There are a lot of different directions to go and choosing is hard, aah! Here are a few of my favorite symbols though:

  1. Wind/Currents: The book starts and ends with the Levanter wind, Santiago turns himself into wind to prove he has learned lessons from the Sould of the World, Fatima's scent is in the wind. Wind currents are also a powerful symbol for journeys— one can follow the wind currents, be taken by the wind, etc.
  2. Omens: Three omens that stand out to me most are: the butterfly which is the first omen explicitly mentioned in the book, urim and thumim which are stones to be used for guidence when seeing the omens proves challenging, and, lastly, the scarab beetle (a symbol for divine cycles, rebirth, regeneration) Santiago encounters before realizing the treasure is where he started and his journey was the real treasure.
  3. Hands: Throughout the book the word Maktub is spoken. It means, "it is written," and is representative of the pull between free will and fate that is present in the book. Near the end of the story Santiago speaks to "the hand that wrote all," which connects ot Maktub. Additionally Santiago get's his palm read (unwillingly) and the beginning of the story. Hands are both a symbol of fate and of free will (doing the work with your own two hands). I like this as a symbol that shows you have to work to fulfill your destiny. 

A few other images I like: circular path, map, falcons, horses + alchemist, date palm fronds, sycamore leaves. 

Ok, I'm going to sleep on this. Will post soon with sketches.


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