Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. How does the story of Narcissus relate to the broader message of The Alchemist?
2. What attitude does The Alchemist take toward romantic love?
3. What is the attitude of The Alchemist towards material wealth and individualism, and how does it differ from major world religions in this regard?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. How does Santiago’s spiritual journey parallel the alchemist’s practice of transforming metal into gold?
2. What are the weaknesses that Santiago sees in his flock of sheep, and how do they relate to the weaknesses of human beings who fail to pursue their Personal Legends?
3. According to the book, is it possible to live a fulfilling life without ever achieving one’s Personal Legend? Why or why not?
4. What role do forces of nature such as the wind and the sun play in Santiago’s journey?
5. During Santiago’s stay in Tangiers, what does Santiago teach the crystal merchant, and what does the crystal merchant teach Santiago?
6. What stylistic strategies does Coelho use to make The Alchemist come across as a mythic, universally applicable story?
7. What is the function of magic in The Alchemist, and what does the ability to practice magic symbolize?