Fiction Analysis: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist is famous worldwide. It has garnered praise here in America driven by the passionate rejoicing of celebrities Will Smith and Oprah Winfrey. The Alchemist’s popularity is far reaching and it is justified. This parable is riddled with lines that may fester in the memory. Its quotability is less about literary quality or truth and more about the spiritual way it paints the world. It suspends the readers in this alternate view of life and reality and within that world a lot of the book is sincerely profound.

“The story of one person is the story of everyone, and one man’s quest is the quest of all humanity…” Taken from the Foreword of The Alchemist

The Good

The story is brilliant and instructive. Regardless of how one feels about the philosophy presented in the story, The Alchemist could tempt even the philosophically illiterate. Character development is inherent in spiritual journey stories like these, but it is done rather well here. There is a transition, a very gradual one, from how the boy starts to where he ends. It is all a logical progression, despite the spiritual leaning.

The Bad

Paulo Coelho is a bit heavy handed on his themes. They aren’t just a layer of the story they insult the reader at every chance ending up being as disruptive as Navi from The Ocarina of Time.

Notable Quotables

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision”

“Everyone has his or her own way of learning things,” he said to himself. “His way isn’t the same as mine, nor mine as his. But we’re both in search of our Personal Legends, and I respect him for that.”

“In his pursuit of the dream, he was being constantly subjected to tests of his persistence and courage. So he could not be hasty, nor impatient. If he pushed forward impulsively, he would fail to see the signs and omens left by God along his path.”


The Alchemist is a worthwhile spiritual journey. It can provide critical lessons for those open enough to experience them. There is a deep layer of meaning implied from the parable that may be enough to alter one’s path in life.

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