EducationalAlchemy Alchemy is the scientific art of turning any metal intogold. In the Alchemist, however, alchemy represents the development of oneself.Alchemy and education go hand in hand. But what kind of education is alchemyand how does it relate to Santiago and his journey? Just as any other type ofscience, alchemy is learned through experience and observation.
The experienceshad in learning can be seen contributing to self-development and evolvement.Santiagocan be seen developing himself and his world views throughout the novel. Hisquest of developing a universal understanding becomes most apparent when thenovel states, “All his life and all his studies were aimed at finding the onetrue language of the universe. First, he had studied Esperanto, then theworld’s religions, and now it was alchemy” (68).
The novel also hints thatunderstanding is linked with simplicity and purity, and that these are thethings that lead to knowing the universe. “The alchemists spent years inlaboratories, observing the fire that purifies metals. They spent so much timeclose to the fire that they gradually gave up the vanities of the world. Theydiscovered that the purification of the metal had led to a purification ofthemselves” (83-84). The novel is saying that alchemy isn’t about becoming richin a worldly manner and being surrounded by all that glitters, instead, itimplies that alchemy is about making ones’ soul pure and becoming rich in aspiritual sense.Alchemyis the universal language that Santiago was searching for, and this can be seenwhen the alchemist starts talking about the intricacies of pure matter and whatit’s like when it combusts.
“If what one finds is made of pure matter, it willnever spoil. And one can always come back. If what you had found was only amoment of light, like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing on yourreturn… The man was speaking the language of alchemy.
But the boy knew that hewas referring to Fatima” (127). The alchemist was able to apply the science ofalchemy to a situation that Santiago was actually dealing with and tried toexplain to Santiago the concept of “if you love something, set it free”.Alchemyalso can be representative of Santiago. The alchemist compares the process ofturning any metal into gold with Santiago achieving his personal legend, as thealchemist states that by the metals becoming gold, they too are achieving theirpersonal legends. And much as the metals must be rid of impurities in order totransform, so must Santiago. Santiago needs to let go of desire in order torealize his legend and become enlightened.
However, the alchemist also tellsSantiago that alchemy, much like one’s own life, are learned from byexperience. The alchemist tells Santiago that alchemy books only make alchemymore complicated, and to truly understand alchemy and himself, he must followhis instincts and learn from his own experiences. BibliographyCoelho, Paulo. The Alchemist.