Essay: The Alchemist / The Zahir / The Devil and Miss Prym – Paulo Coelho

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  • The Alchemist / The Zahir / The Devil and Miss Prym - Paulo Coelho
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The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho is one of the most renowned author is known my many amongst continents. He has received numerous international awards including the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum. The Alchemist brought him the most fame and it has been translated into 80 languages. It was a story of a shepherd boy who chased his dreams and travelled from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian deserts. His dream was merely about finding gold buried somewhere amid the pyramids. During the chase he found his love of life and learned the language spoken by the universe. He learned the art of alchemy. By the time he reached the pyramids, he got robbed thrice and during the final robbery, he told the reason that why he had come to Egypt to the robbers. He said he came there in search of some treasure which he dreamt about. The robber mocked him and said that he has had the same dream that he’ll find out treasure somewhere in Andalusia (Spain). When the shepherd boy heard that, he knew that his treasure lied where he had always lived. This novel was particularly about chasing dreams. Then the question that can be asked is, do dreams really come true? Well to this, answer will always depend upon how long you’re willing to chase that dream.

The Zahir

The Zahir, was a novel about obsession. The narrator is himself an author in the character he plays. That unnamed author is indeed so famous and his wife Esther was a war correspondent who is quadralingual, which means she has knowledge of four different languages. Their marriage wasn’t being that special anymore as it used to be in early years. Esther wanted to look for her own happiness and she disappears in that search. Her disappearance made him realize her worth. He was traumatized by thinking what might have happened to her. Negatives thoughts attacked him. Thoughts of her being kidnapped, killed or leaving him for another love kept on attacking his mind.

Narrator was a successful man in himself. He attended different ceremonies like book signing, power launches with film industry people and interviews with many journalists. But nothing pleased him. Esther had become his zahir, his obsession. The more he tries to forget her, the more she creeps into his thought. Esther has always mentioned a guy friend of hers named Mikhail to her husband. After her disappearance, narrator doubted him for being the reason behind her absence in his life. He wanted to know it so curiously that where Esther was. He spent an eve with Mikhail, after he met him at the book signing of his new launch, they talked for hours and he eventually came to know that she was safe. Mikhail was a young man who worked with unhappily married couples and had his own spiritual perspective on love. Though Mikhail was himself committed to a girl, who was indeed his colleague, but narrator refused to believe that. Mikhail invited the narrator to join his group and travel some places with him. Narrator did what he asked in a hope of getting to Esther. After exploring many places, narrator came to know that he was lacking information that almost everyone whom he meets knew. He lacked the knowledge of a stained cloth of army officer which was given by Esther to the ones whom she recommended capable of knowing the importance. Esther’s nature made everyone, from poor to rich, her friend. After all the things they both finally met and shared some moments of silence which spoke a lot.
The novel is a journey from a stagnant marriage and love to the realization of unseen but ever increasing attraction between two souls.

In this particular novel, he has mentioned the story of The Alchemist. Name of his another novel, namely Brida, was also mentioned in there as a small character of this book.

In Paulo Coelho’s works, it is easy to find the name of his own book in a very different manner every time. He uses other titles and summary of their stories to reflect previous ideas from his own books.

The Devil and Miss Prym

It is a story of discovering the true face of humankind. Viscos is the place where author has set the whole story. It is a small village with a finite number of inhabitants. It is a place where nothing much happens, and if something does happen, then it is easily spread all over the village. Chantal Prym, a young bartender of this village wants to lead a life better than she was already living. Betra is the oldest person of this village and has some special powers with her. She can talk to her dead husband, sees the devil and notices the slightest change in anything and everything. One day, a stranger enters the village and intended to live there for one week. He hides 11 gold bars in the woods and tells it to only one person, Chantal. He tells her that he was looking for some answers and in order to get answers he’ll test the villagers. He told the story of his own family, that how they were all murdered by some bad people. He asked Chantal to forward this message that he was willing to give all the gold he has to the villagers, in return he just wanted someone to get killed for the greed. Chantal, being a girl of this village, assumed that people will refuse to kill anyone for the gold because people there were decent and nice. But her belkief was betrayed when she heard that villagers were planning to kill Betra and make viscos an important place with that money. Chantal tells people that shooting Betra will prove that the people are in essence just some evil, base, greedy creatures with no morals. Chantal was herself tempted to steal some gold and use it for her own betterment and to begin her new life. The conclusion that was driven out at the climax was that stranger realized people are neither good nor evil, people are just people.
The fight against the good and evil was seen here.

Paulo Coelho’s works are a lot spiritual and philosophical. His way of writing is so understandable for a layman and so effective to improve oneself. The relativity of different novels brings in better understanding of the stories he provide us.

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