Alchemist Answer Key
1)Why does Coelho open with the modified myth of Narcissus? How does the new version differ from the original one? How does it change the myth’s meaning? What might the author be suggesting about how we perceive ourselves and the world? Paulo Coelho began with the tale of Narcissus to show the reader that when you are so caught up in your own life you do not realize the greater things like nature and friends. It differs because it leaves out how the lake was also too caught up in its own beauty to notice other people. The new myth focuses more on positive outcomes from unfortunate events while the original is negative.
It portrays everything to be self-centered. This relates to the tale of the Alchemist because, in chasing his personal legend, Santiago had to learn to see the world for all that it was, not just as it related to his personal struggle. 2)The novel opens with Santiago thinking about his sheep. What does he observe about their existence? How might the sheep symbolize the way some people live their lives? How does his observation that they “have forgotten to rely on their own instincts” foreshadow later events in the story? He observes that all they are concerned with is eating and sleeping.
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They do not have deeper thoughts or needs. Just like people that do not try to learn or grow, they continue blandly through life. They don’t look around or try to learn from those around them. Because Santiago is different, he bravely leaves his comfortable existence and travels to the pyramids in search of his treasure. Along the way he learns to trust in himself and to understand the ways of the earth. 3)To what degree is his father’s observation about travelers (“They come in search of new things, but when they leave they are basically the same people they were when they arrived. “) true about Santiago? )The old man tells Santiago the story about the miner and the emerald. How does it connect to Santiago’s situation? What does he mean when he says that “treasure is uncovered by the force of flowing water, and it is buried by the same currents”? What does this quote have to do with the miner/emerald story? 5)What point does the old man’s story about the boy in the castle and the drops of oil make?
How might this story apply to us in our modern lives? You shouldn’t worry too much about your family and flock that you don’t enjoy everything that is around you, but you also shouldn’t completely forget about the ones you love. )How does the King assist Santiago in recognizing omens? When does Santiago use this help? The king opens Santiago’s eyes to the possibility that there are signs/omens all around him and that he needs to be on the lookout for these as he goes about his life. God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left for you. Santiago uses this help when he does not know where to go or what to do. 7)How do Santiago’s thoughts and perceptions about himself and the world begin to change on pages 42-44? Describe three (3) things that Santiago sees now that he has never noticed before. )Why do you think Coelho chose crystal? How does the crystal merchant’s explanation for not taking the pilgrimage to Mecca highlight the difference between Santiago and the merchant? Coelho chose crystal merchant because he wanted to showcase the different paths a person may chose in life. Whereas Santiago feels eager to pursue his Personal Legend and get to Egypt, the crystal merchant fears pursuing his own dream to make a pilgrimage to Mecca because he worries he will have nothing to live for afterward. 9) The Englishman and his goals are described in the novel. What is he looking for?
What does he demonstrate to Santiago that the Englishman already knows? Santiago says that the progress made at the crystal shop is an example of the principle of the Soul of the World. What does he mean? How does he define this? How does he connect the idea to the relationship between the caravan and the desert? 10) The oasis is described in great detail. How does its lushness, laughter, and color reflect what Santiago finds there? Where else in the story does Coelho provide details about the physical setting in order to lend more meaning to the events which occur there? 1)What is the meaning of the two (2) dead hawks and the falcon in the oasis? How does this omen change Santiago’s status in society? It doesn’t really have a meaning santiago has the skill of knowing future. It is not nature telling him the future, but he can feel the future as Santiago is capable of entering and understanding the soul of the world and well as the language of the world.
This lets him understand and “read” the future through the omens. The reading of omens in the natural world gives Santiago a special status reserved for men much older and learned than he is. 2) During his trek through the desert with the alchemist, Santiago is told of many basic truths. The alchemist says, “There is only one way to learn. It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey. ” What are some of the things Santiago has learned through action? 13) Why did Santiago have to go through the dangers of the tribal wars on the outskirts of the oasis in order to reach the Pyramids? At this point, the boy remembers the old proverb: “The darkest hour of the night came just before the dawn. How does this apply to his situation now? At the end of the journey, why did the alchemist leave Santiago alone to complete it? Santiago must endure trials in order to fulfill his Personal Legend and thus comprehend the Language of the World. One’s goals are never reached unless we are willing to face fears.
The proverb totally applies to his situation as things become their very worst before they get better. The alchemist left Santiago alone because every person’s journey is an individual one; no one can help you realize your own dreams. 4) Earlier in the story, the alchemist told Santiago “when you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed. ” At the end of the story, how does this simple lesson change Santiago’s life? How does it lead him back to the treasure he was looking for? When Santiago encountered the thieves, he told them the truth, and they didn’t believe him, which saved his life. This quote from earlier in the book was mentioned, about how people become more skeptical when they are older: Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend 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 Personal Legend. ” 1) What is alchemy? What processes were involved? Who performed it and why? Who were the famous alchemists of the medieval period?
Alchemy (the “Royal Art”, or “Great Work”), a form of speculative thought, is perhaps best known as attempting to turn base metals into gold, and for trying to discover a cure for diseases and a way of extending the human life span. The word alchemy comes from the Arabic word al-kimia. It is in fact a system of thought, related to broad disciplines including natural philosophy, medicine, astrology, metallurgy, and hermetic thinking. The name alchemy is largely known to the west today due to its connection with the philosophy that surfaced in 12th century Europe via contacts with the Arabic world.
But the study of alchemy and alchemical processes seems to be quite universal, with some evidence of it from ancient India, China, Persia, Egypt, and others, describing specific experiments with mercury, salt, and sulphur, etc. Transmutation, or change from one state of existence into another, is a key concept in Alchemy – for example, the process for lead to change into gold, or, for someone to go from a state of sickness to health, or from old age back to youth again (the “elixir of life”).
The transmutation of metals was to be accomplished by a specific powder or elixir, often called the “Philosopher’s Stone”, which would cause the changes to occur. The alchemists, after a profound examination of natural processes and the secrets of nature, arrived at a view that involved two polarities of nature; one being mercury, the volatile intellect, and the other, sulphur, connected with the soul. Paracelsus added a third principle, salt, which as a solid, corresponds to that of the body. To the alchemist, these Paracelsian “Tria Prima” are not only chemical substances, but spiritual forces.
The qualities of heat, dryness, coldness and moisture were, according to Aristotle, joined with the “prima materia” to develop into the four elements. Alchemy has been practiced for centuries by mainly chemists for the reason that they wanted to discover the relationship of man to the cosmos and take advantage of that relationship to the betterment of mankind and to find the “philosopher’s stone,” an elusive substance that was believed to make possible the creation of an elixir of immortality and the transmutation of common substances into gold. In Middle Ages alchemy was used as a tool in advancement of medicine.
Zosimus, Geber, Albertus Magnus, Paracelsus Isaac Newton, Roger Bacon and St. Thomas Aquinas were the famous alchemists of the medieval period. 2) Research the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Life. The philosophers’ stone or stone of the philosophers (Latin: lapis philosophorum) is a legendary alchemical substance said to be capable of turning base metals (lead, for example) into gold (chrysopoeia) or silver. It was also sometimes believed to be an elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and possibly for achieving immortality. For many centuries, it was the most sought-after goal in Western alchemy.
The philosophers’ stone was the central symbol of the mystical terminology of alchemy, symbolizing perfection at its finest, enlightenment, and heavenly bliss. Efforts to discover the philosophers’ stone were known as the Magnum Opus (“Great Work”). The philosophers’ stone has been attributed with many mystical and magical properties. The most commonly mentioned properties are the ability to transmute base metals into gold or silver, and the ability to heal all forms of illness and prolong the life of any person who consumes a small part of the philosophers’ stone.
Other mentioned properties include: creation of perpetually burning lamps, transmutation of common crystals into precious stones and diamonds, reviving of dead plants, creation of flexible or malleable glass, or the creation of a clone or homunculus. The philosophers’ stone is created by the alchemical method known as The Magnum Opus or The Great Work. Often expressed as a series of color changes or chemical processes, the instructions for creating the philosophers’ stone are varied.
When expressed in colors, the work may pass through phases of nigredo, albedo, citrinitas, and rubedo. When expressed as a series of chemical processes that includes 3 stages multiplication, and projection. The elixir of life, also known as elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher’s stone, is a legendary/mythical potion, or drink, that when drank from a certain cup, at a certain time, grants the drinker eternal life and/or eternal youth. Many alchemists pursued it. The elixir of life was also said to be able to create life.
It is related to the myths of Thoth and Hermes Trismegistus, both of whom in various tales are said to have drunk “the white drops” (liquid gold) and thus achieved immortality. It is mentioned in one of the Nag Hammadi texts. Comte de St. Germain, an 18th century nobleman of uncertain origin and mysterious capabilities, was also reputed to have the Elixir and to be several hundred years old. Many European recipes specify that elixir is to be stored in clocks to amplify the effects of immortality on the user. Frenchman Nicolas Flamel was also a reputed creator of the Elixir.