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The Alchemist

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  1. The Alchemist

  2. Santiago? Significance in the name…. • In the early 9th century the tomb of the Apostle St. James "Santiago"  was found in Galicia, Spain.  • The Cathedral of Santiago is on the site of what is believed to the burial place of St. James.  St. James traveled to Spain during the 1st century to preach Christianity.  Upon return to Palestine he was taken prisoner and tortured to death.  His body was secretly taken back to Spain and buried. • In the Middle Ages, Christians began to make pilgrimages to the site. 

  3. Prayer to St. James the Apostle O glorious Apostle, Saint James,who by reason of thy fervent and generous heart was choen by Jesusto be witness of His glory on Mount Tabor, and of His agony in Gethsemane;thou, whose very name is a symbol of warfare and victory:obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending warfare of this life,that, having constantly and generously followed Jesus,we may be victors in the strife and deserve to receive the victor's crown in heaven.Amen.

  4. Symbols • From the first pages of the text, The Alchemist is infused with symbolism • Church • Sycamore Tree • Sheep • Shepherd

  5. Church outside of the church- signifies sacredness and spiritual nourishment. It is representative of your value system and the things you hold sacred.  in a church- suggests that you are seeking for some spiritual enlightenment and guidance. You are looking to be uplifted in some way.

  6. Sycamore Tree • Trees of Life. From the highest antiquity trees were connected with the gods and mystical forces in nature.

  7. Sycamore continued • The sycamore was the Tree of Life in Egypt, and also in Assyria. • It was sacred to Hathor at Heliopolis; and is now sacred in the same place to the VirginMary. • Its juice was precious by virtue of its occult powers • " The fruit and sap of the Tree of Lifebestowimmortality."

  8. Sheep • SHEEP - denotes lack of individuality. • The ewe is seen as stupid and harmless. • The ram is seen as strength, vitality, and unwavering determination. • In the lamb, the symbolism is innocence

  9. Shepherd • Leadership • Higher guidance • Christ Symbol

  10. Santiago visits a “dream interpreter” • Gypsy- signifies ‘outsider’ or member of the ‘non-establishment’ ‘ possibly pagan • Implications of the Sacred Heart of Jesus • The Gypsy Woman - She is the first one Santiago consults about his dream. She is mysterious and yet religious as can be attested by the Sacred Heart of Jesus picture on her wall

  11. Sacred Heart of Jesus symbolism of the heart It is this symbolism that imparts to its meaning and its unity, and this symbolism is admirably completed by the representation of the Heart as wounded. Since the Heart of Jesus appears to us as the sensible sign of His love, the visible wound in the Heart will naturally recall the invisible wound of this love. This symbolism also explains that the devotion, although giving the Heart an essential place, is but little concerned with the anatomy of the heart or with physiology.

  12. The Old Man • Who is he? • What is his significance? • Prophet? • The Old King - He is the second to help Santiago and gives him the stones named Urim and Thummim. He also advises Santiago to never stop dreaming and follow the omens. His name is Melchizedek.

  13. Melchizedek? • Melchizedek, the king of Salem in the time of Abraham. • Many believe that Melchizedek was Jesus. • Melchizedek appeared in Genesis to the patriarch Abraham. Whether he actually existed as a person or as an abstraction remains a mystery.

  14. Biblical Reference • Hebrews 7:3 in the New Testament refers to Melchizedek as a king "without father or mother or genealogy", • a reference which some Christians take as referring to Melchizedek's true nature as an angel or even as Jesus himself, appearing thousands of years before his Earthly incarnation.

  15. Significance of Emeralds • Emerald, the first stones were mined in the deserts of Egypt near the Red Sea in what were known as Cleopatra's Mines.  • Symbolic of your inner healing powersA symbol of love, healing and magicA stimulant for memory, vision and clairvoyance

  16. Important Quotations • It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting. (p11) • What's the world's greatest lie? It's this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. (p18)

  17. The boy didn't know what a person's "destiny" was. It's what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their destiny is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their destiny. (p22)

  18. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. (p23) • People learn early in their lives what is their reason for being. (p25)

  19. How to Read Literature Like a Professor- continued • It’s more than just rain or snow • Rain • fertility and life • Noah and the flood • Drowning—one of our deepest fears • Why? • plot device • atmospherics • misery factor—challenge characters • democratic element—the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike

  20. Symbolically • rain is clean—a form of purification, baptism, removing sin or a stain • rain is restorative—can bring a dying earth back to life • destructive as well—causes pneumonia, colds, etc.; hurricanes, etc. • Ironic use—April is the cruelest month (T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland) • Rainbow—God’s promise never to destroy the world again; hope; a promise of peace between heaven and earth • fog—almost always signals some sort of confusion; mental, ethical, physical “fog”; people can’t see clearly • Snow • negatively—cold, stark, inhospitable, inhuman, nothingness, death • positively—clean, pure, playful

  21. …More Than It’s Gonna Hurt You: Concerning Violence • Violence can be symbolic, thematic, biblical, Shakespearean, Romantic, allegorical, transcendent. • Two categories of violence in literature • Character caused—shootings, stabbings, drownings, poisonings, bombings, hit and run, etc • Death and suffering for which the characters are not responsible. Accidents are not really accidents. • Violence is symbolic action, but hard to generalize meaning • Questions to ask: • What does this type of misfortune represent thematically? • What famous or mythic death does this one resemble? • Why this sort of violence and not some other?

  22. Is That a Symbol? • Yes. But figuring out what is tricky. Can only discuss possible meanings and interpretations • There is no one definite meaning unless it’s an allegory, where characters, events, places have a one-on-one correspondence symbolically to other things. (Animal Farm) • Actions, as well as objects and images, can be symbolic. i.e. “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost • How to figure it out? Symbols are built on associations readers have, but also on emotional reactions. Pay attention to how you feel about a text.

  23. It’s All Political • Literature tends to be written by people interested in the problems of the world, so most works have a political element in them • Issues: • Individualism and self-determination against the needs of society for conformity and stability. • Power structures • Relations among classes • issues of justice and rights • interactions between the sexes and among various racial and ethnic constituencies.