Considering sacrificing the personal wishes for the sake of love the ultimate manifestation of true love is typical for the majority of writers, poets, and painters exploring the romantic themes. However, Paulo Coelho has managed to amaze the readers with a wholly new approach to exploring the nature of love and describing its role in the person’s life in his famous novel The Alchemist. Coelho demonstrates that while the love demanding the sacrifice of one’s dream is not true, the genuine love serves as a stimulus for living out the Personal Legend and achieving the happiness.
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The first lesson the reader learns about love while reading The Alchemist is that the wrong understanding of this feeling often becomes an obstacle on the way to the person’s pursuit of self-realization. The author shows that untrue love can stop the person from living the life full of meaning, which is essential for discovering the purpose of one’s. This step is crucial for the person’s ability to move to the next level of self-development. However, the author shows that the problem is related to people’s perception of love, not the feeling itself.
Coelho demonstrates that true love cannot prevent the person from realizing his/her dreams through the words of the alchemist: “You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love… the love that speaks the Language of the World” (Coelho 67). The main protagonist feels the temptation to leave his Personal Legend because of the feeling of affection towards a woman two times: after meeting the merchant’s daughter and after he falls in love with Fatima.
Though Santiago is not bounded with the merchant’s daughter by serious feelings, after meeting her he feels the desire to lead a purposeless life: “He recognized that he was feeling something he had never experienced before: the desire to live in one place forever” (Coelho 3). After meeting Fatima, the described desire appears to dominate Santiago’s plans one more time with even bigger power. Falling in love with Fatima motivates him to stay in the oasis and refuse from living his dream.
The Alchemist tells the boy that such decision will lead to the unhappiness of both Santiago and Fatima as he will regret refusing from a dream, and Fatima will feel the guilt for forcing him to do it. In such way, Coelho teaches the reader that refusing from a dream for the sake of love is the severely wrongful act. Though Santiago manages to overcome the temptation to leave his dream because of the affection and love towards a woman, the reader gets a clear impression that sacrificing one’s dream for love can be an obstacle on the way to one’s happiness and purposeful life.
Such position is unique in regard to world literature, as most writers describe the sacrifice of one’s dreams and wishes for the sake of love as the highest manifestation of true love. Coelho, on the contrary, reveals that such sacrifice serves as a proof of the untrue love, which can ruin the person’s happiness. Fatima also demonstrates the untraditional understanding of love.
While most female protagonists described in the literature strive for making their beloved ones stay with them, Fatima encourages Santiago to leave her and continue his trip: “That’s why I want you to continue toward your goal. If you have to wait until the war is over, then wait. But if you have to go before then, go on in pursuit of your dream” (Coelho 53). Such approach to true love opposes the traditional beliefs and changes the explanation of its nature.
Another lesson learned about love from The Alchemist is related to the significant role love plays in achieving the goal of self-realization by a person. Coelho demonstrates that though the misleading understanding of love is an obstacle to one’s happiness, the feeling itself is one of the main components of human life. The author reveals the primary role of the powers that are not controlled by a human in encouraging the person to fall in love: “One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving” (Coelho 68).
Coelho emphasizes that love is a gift from the universe through Santiago’s words addressed to Fatima: “So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you” (Coelho 68). By overcoming many obstructions and finding the knowledge about the rules guiding human life, Santiago comes to a conclusion that love should serve as the stimulus for self-improvement: “And that’s where the power of love comes in. Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are” (Coelho 85).
These words illustrate one of the main thoughts shared by the author with the readers: love is not the goal of life, it is the power helping to fulfill Personal Legend. Though Coelho does not place love in the center of Santiago’s motivations, he shows that it is crucial to person’s happiness. Love serves both as a stimulus for Santiago’s pursuit of the dream and the ultimate reward for living out the Personal Legend, as the novel ends with the reunion of Fatima and Santiago.
Therefore, the author does not deny the importance of love but points to its true purpose. This lesson differs from most of the traditional ideas about love, as literature and traditions mostly put love in the center of the person’s life and praise the suffering caused by it. Coelho, on the contrary, celebrates the love that helps the person to realize his/her dreams instead of abandoning them.
The lessons about true love given by Coelho in The Alchemist can save many people from losing their personalities and happiness. I know several examples of people who have sacrificed their dreams for the sake of love and live an unhappy life.
Their sacrifices have caused immense regrets and, as a result, serious misunderstandings with the partners. Such examples from the real life make me believe that Coelho’s approach to defining what the true love is and how it should help to achieve the lifelong goals instead of ruining them is truthful and can be supported with the abundance of real life experience.
Paulo Coelho has managed to create an innovative approach to defining the true love. According to the assumptions he makes throughout the text of The Alchemist, the trueness of love cannot be assessed by the readiness of a person to sacrifice his/her dreams for its sake. On the contrary, true love stimulates for achieving the lifetime goals and self-realization and serves as the power guiding the person towards the happiness.
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Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. Trans. Alan Clarke. 1992. PDF file. Web.