Comparison of Books The Alchemist and Self Reliance

Have you ever read “Alchemist” the book or Emerson’s “Self – Reliance?” In this essay I will be comparing the two, with the differences and the similarities. The book Alchemist talks about a boy named Santiago that wants to peruse his dream as finding treasure under pyramids.
Santiago is a humble shepherd whose desires are few–he wants to be free to roam with his sheep, to have some wine in his wineskin and a book in his bag.

Fate intervenes, however, in the form of the recurring dream of a great treasure hidden thousands of miles away at the base of the Egyptian Pyramids.

When Santiago meets Melchizedek, a strange wise man who claims he is a king from a far-off land, he decides to seek his treasure. The next day, Santiago sells his sheep and embarks to Africa to pursue his dream. Upon arriving in Africa, though, it becomes apparent that things will not be as easy as he thought.

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The first day Santiago is in Tangiers, he is robbed and left completely alone, unable to speak a single word of Arabic. At first Santiago contemplates giving up and turning around. He remembers the words of the wise man, though, and decides to carry on–getting a job at a local crystal shop. After working at the crystal shop for a year, learning much about life and about his Personal Legend, Santiago earns enough money to buy a new flock of sheep and return home at the last minute, though, Santiago decides to risk it all and join a caravan to Egypt.

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The essay opens with a call to believe in the true self. Emerson points to one’s infancy as the model to be followed in that it encourages the development of a spirit of independence and non-conformity. To Emerson an individual’s personal growth is reliant upon losing one’s tendency toward conformity. Society is seen as having a negative impact on the growth of individual spirit while conversely, solitude encourages such growth. Emerson encourages living by instinct even if it is from the devil.

Here he is being factitious; his point is that inherent moral sentiment, which is what leads a person to self-sufficiency, cannot stem from the devil. Unqualified trust in emotions may lead to contradictions as emotions change, but Emerson accounts for this, calling life a process that is organic thus containing contradictions.

Emerson believes each person has an instinct that draws upon a universal spirit to provide a consistent guide to living. An individual guided by intuition or instinct is following the universal spirit. From a formal religion perspective, Emerson looks at every individual as a potential reincarnation of the “Word,” while up to that point, only Christ was regarded as such. This supports the concept of living in and for the present, free from the need to refer to the past or worry about the future, both toxic to the human condition and best avoided.

The Theme of “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho is, always follow your dreams and listen to your heart. At the start of the novel Santiago does not know what he should do when he is confronted by his dream. But by the end of the novel Santiago completely trusts his heart to guide him though life. Santiago’s story shows him learning and living out the theme of the novel. I think Paulo passed on his message about following your heart quite well.

These values included nature, individualism, and reform, and can be noted in the essay “Self Reliance,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. In this essay, Emerson states his values and incorporates them into his philosophy of self-reliance. In the past 170 years, some of the ideas stated by Emerson in his literary work “Self-Reliance” have weathered the test of time. However, since his archaic examples no longer apply to modern life, other sources of transcendentalism must be found to sustain the ideas. Such strongholds of ideas may be scarce, but they do exist in the form of environmentalists and hardworking people.

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Comparison of Books The Alchemist and Self Reliance. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

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