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The Alchemist | Study Guide

Paulo Coelho

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The Alchemist | Quotes


They trust me, and they've forgotten how to rely on their own instincts.

Santiago, Part 1 (Life in Andalusia)

Here, Santiago—the shepherd—reflects on his sheep's inability to think for themselves and trust their instincts, much like some of the people he encounters or hears about on his journey, such as the baker. These people become followers, instead of taking control of their lives.


When you really want something, ... that desire originated in the soul of the universe.

Melchizedek, Part 1 (Tarifa and Melchizedek)

This quote illustrates the book's theme of oneness, or the idea that all living and nonliving entities share the same Soul of the World, from which every Personal Legend stems. The mission, then, is to use free will to figure out and realize the Personal Legend.


When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.

Melchizedek, Part 1 (Tarifa and Melchizedek)

This quote, too, reflects the theme of oneness—and the idea that all parts of the universe, from the wind to every animal and person, work together to help someone or something achieve what is desired.


Today I understand something I didn't see before: every blessing ignored becomes a curse.

Crystal Merchant, Part 2 (At Work with the Crystal Merchant)

This quote reflects the crystal merchant's newfound awareness stemming from Santiago's arrival. Now he recognizes the things he could achieve (blessings) and also realizes that deciding not to pursue those possibilities results in suffering (curses).


The Englishman was disappointed. ... [Santiago's] soul must be too primitive to understand those things.

Narrator, Part 2 (First Encounters with the Englishman)

This quote reflects the Englishman's opinion that book learning is superior to learning from experience. Here, the Englishman refers to Santiago's soul as primitive because he prefers learning from life rather than reading about research, magic symbols, and laboratory equipment. Ironically, it's Santiago who turns out be more advanced in his learning than the Englishman.


Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.

The Alchemist, Part 2 (Crossing the Desert)

When Santiago feels sad about leaving Fatima to pursue his Personal Legend, the alchemist responds with this advice. Here, the alchemist suggests that fear brings suffering, and once someone becomes aware of their Personal Legend, choosing not to follow it will cause them to suffer all the more.


Every search begins with beginner's luck. ... Every search ends with the victor's luck being severely tested.

The Alchemist, Part 2 (Crossing the Desert)

This quote foreshadows the challenges Santiago faces on the last phases of his journey—namely, when he turns himself into wind and is beaten by refugees at the base of the pyramids. Earlier in his journey, his challenges are less severe because everything in the universe is working to help him achieve his Personal Legend.


Only one thing ... makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.

The Alchemist, Part 2 (Crossing the Desert)

The alchemist says this to Santiago in an attempt to reassure him that he does indeed know how to transform himself into the wind. He just needs to look within and think about the lessons he's learned along his journey. If he fears that he will fail, then he will, in fact, fail. He needs to believe in himself.


We were all made by the same hand, and we have the same soul.

Santiago, Part 2 (Crossing the Desert)

When the wind tells Santiago that "We're two very different things," he responds by saying that he has everything created in the universe inside him. Santiago explains that he and the wind come from the same soul and were made by the same hand. This quote reflects the theme of oneness that runs throughout the story.


It's true; life really is generous to those who pursue their Personal Legend.

Santiago, Epilogue

Santiago says these words to himself after finding, at last, his buried treasure beneath the old sycamore tree in Andalusia. This statement reflects the idea that those who remain true to themselves end up with more than those who abandon their innermost desires.

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