Imagery and Self Identity in Paolo Coehlo The Alchemist

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Imagery and Self Identity in Paolo Coehlo The Alchemist

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The Alchemist has sold millions of copies all across the world. This novel has numerous amount of underlying meanings regarding the delaying of one’s dreams. The Alchemist written by Paulo Coehlo gives readers a profound perspective on life and what one has to go through to chase their dream. “Harlem” by Langston Hughes is a poem that discusses what can come of a dream that is ignored. Paulo Coehlo discusses how the postponement of dreams will eventually lead to deep remorse.

In Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist both the crystal merchant and Fatima hold Santiago back in separate ways. After he works at the crystal merchant’s shop for a period of time, “the boy estimated that” if he worked for “6 more months'” he could return to his old life and forget about his treasure (Coehlo 56). The crystal merchant reveals to Santiago the dangers of an unfulfilled life from his own experiences. The crystal merchant’s personal legend was to visit Mecca, however, he knew that would never happen. The crystal merchant fears change and the only thing that keeps him going is the idea of Mecca, and if he went there, what would he then be living for? In addition to the roadblock Santiago encountered, he later comes into contact with the love of his life. Fatima, Santiago’s love interest, acted as a setback for his personal legend as she was considered “more important than treasure” (Coehlo 96). Fatima was a distraction for Santiago and made him question the continuation of his trip. Fatima nearly prevents Santiago from pursuing his dreams and she functions as a caution sign as love can interfere with one’s personal legend. Fatima and the crystal merchant show Santiago the reality of what would happen if he left his dreams unfulfilled.

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Langston Hughes uses rhetorical questions and imagery to portray the same image. The tone he conveys displays a growing use of hopelessness is best manifested by his use of imagery. Hughes uses rhetorical questions about specific things in the everyday life to compare them to dreams. Hughes contrasts “a raisin in the sun” to an adjourned dream to convey that when the grape dries up, it loses all of the juice inside (Hughes lines 2). The juice represents the hope that was once inside oneself and as it dried up, all the hope shriveled away as well. The comparison that Hughes applies is how the dream can “sag like a heavy load” and weigh you down (Hughes l.8-9). A heavy load represents the negative weight left on a person’s life. The diction used by Hughes corresponds with the concept of darkness and negativity.

Deferring dreams ultimately leads to eternal regret. A dream that is abandoned will never completely be fulfilled. Throughout Langston Hughes's poem, “Harlem”, he uses rhetorical questions to contrast ignored dreams. Santiago encounters multiple setbacks that function as obstacles to restrain him from achieving his personal legend.  

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