How does the story of Narcissus relate to the broader message of The Alchemist?
The myth of Narcissus usually ends when Narcissus becomes so thoroughly entranced by his own reflection that he falls in the lake and drowns. In the novel’s version of the myth, however, we learn that the lake felt upset because Narcissus died, since it enjoyed looking at its own reflection in Narcissus’s eyes. This version of the myth presents a more complicated picture of vanity than the original. As opposed to being an undesirable trait that leads to death, vanity appears to be an entirely natural characteristic, so much so that the lake displays it.
Like the introductory Narcissus story,
What attitude does The Alchemist take toward romantic love?
Unlike many popular literary tales,
This picture of love is unique compared to traditional illustrations of romantic love. For one, this love is completely distinct from possession. Santiago has a significant internal dialogue about this distinction, and he puts it to the test when he leaves Fatima. Love, in
What is the attitude of The Alchemist towards material wealth and individualism, and how does it differ from major world religions in this regard?
Unlike many religions,
The book’s dominant strain of evolutionary spirituality appears most clearly when Santiago tries to turn himself into the wind. In the context of the novel, when a natural element or individual pursues a Personal Legend, it will evolve into a higher state of being. The goal of creation consists of all nature, humans and inanimate objects included, undergoing this evolution until the universe achieves perfection. This philosophy differs from traditional spirituality in that it requires everything pursuing its individual dream to achieve this state rather than practicing selflessness. In fact, the novel even portrays religious characters that practice self-denial, such as the crystal merchant, as failures.