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Essay: The Alchemist

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Personal Legends serve as the only means by which an individual can live a satisfying life in The Alchemist. In fact, the universe can only achieve perfection if all natural things continuously undergo a cycle of achieving their Personal Legend, evolving into a higher being with a new Personal Legend, and then pursuing that new goal. This concept, that the individualistic pursuit of a Personal Legend exists as life’s dominant spiritual demand, lies at the center of the unique theology of The Alchemist. As we see when Santiago must give up his flock and leave Fatima, material success and even love pose obstacles to Santiago achieving his Personal Legend and must be delayed or ignored altogether. Those who put off their Personal Legends, such as the crystal merchant, suffer regret and fail to experience the wealth and other favors that the universe bestows upon those who follow their Personal Legends. In the novel, even alchemy, the central symbol of the book, entails coaxing metal to achieve its own Personal Legend to turn into gold. As a result, the idea that all individuals should live in the singular pursuit of their individual dreams emerges as the primary theme of The Alchemist.
Beowulf, in which this version being translated by Seamus Heaney, is one of the most famous epics ever written. It starts off by introducing King Hrothgar, the ruler of the Danes, who is troubled by the rampages of a demon named Grendel. Every night, Grendel attacks King Hrothgar’s wealthy mead-hall, Heorot, killing Danish warriors and sometimes even eating them.
Hrothgar was a great warrior in his time, but now he’s an old king and can’t seem to protect his people. Fortunately, a young Geat warrior named Beowulf travels to Heorot Hall to rid them of the monster Grendel After explaining that he owes Hrothgar a favor because Hrothgar helped out his father, Beowulf offers to fight Grendel himself. King Hrothgar gratefully accepts his offer. The next time Grendel attacks Heorot Hall, Beowulf is waiting for him. Choosing to fight Grendel in hand-to-hand combat, Beowulf wrestles the demon into submission and eventually tears off his arm at the shoulder. Mortally wounded, Grendel flees into the wilderness and dies. Beowulf, Hrothgar, and their followers throw a wild party to celebrate. Hrothgar also gives Beowulf many presents and treasures to reward him for his heroic defeat of the demon.
It is discovered after this that Grendel has a mother that wants to avenge the death of her son, and kills some of Hrothgar’s men. Beowulf dives into the lake and finds the cave, where he takes on Grendel’s mother in another one-on-one battle. Seizing a nearby sword from Grendel’s mother’s stash of treasure, he slays her, even though her poisonous demon blood melts the blade. When Beowulf returns to the surface, carrying the sword hilt and Grendel’s severed head, the Danish warriors have given him up for dead, but his own Geatish followers are still waiting patiently. When everyone sees that Beowulf has survived this second challenge, there’s more celebration. Beowulf finally meets his match in his last battle, a dragon, woken by a thief stealing a goblet, begins attacking the Geats, burning villages and slaughtering people. Beowulf takes a group of eleven trusty warriors, plus the thief who knows where the dragon’s lair is, to the barrow for a final showdown with the monster. When they see the dragon, all but one of the warriors flee in terror. Only one man, Wiglaf, remains at Beowulf’s side. With Wiglaf’s help and encouragement, Beowulf is able to defeat the dragon, but he is mortally wounded in the process.
Nearly all the characters in Beowulf are concerned about establishing their own identities. Sometimes this literally means explaining who you are and where you came from to get other people to trust you. At other times, this means boasting about your own achievements and exploits in order to create a positive reputation for yourself. Before the evils of job-searching with a resume, medieval Scandinavian warriors had to “sell themselves” by talking themselves up, boasting, and making claims about their past victories. This point is backed up in the story, as it states; “The man whose name was known for courage, the Geat leader, resolute in his helmet, answered in return: ‘We are retainers from Hygelac’s band. Beowulf is my name.’”`(Heaney 340-343).
From the beginning, Beowulf is rightly concerned about how the rest of the world will see him. He introduces himself to the Scyldings by citing achievements that gained honor for him and his king. When a drunken Unferth verbally assaults Beowulf at the first banquet, at issue is the hero’s reputation. Unferth’s slur is the worst kind of insult for Beowulf because his reputation is his most valuable possession. Reputation is also the single quality that endures after death, his one key to immortality. That’s why Beowulf later leaves the gold in the cave beneath the mire, after defeating the mother, preferring to return with Grendel’s head and the magic sword’s hilt rather than treasure. He has and continues to amass treasures; his intent now is in building his fame. Unferth’s slur accuses Beowulf of foolishly engaging in a seven-day swimming contest on the open sea, as a youth, and losing. If Beowulf can’t win a match like that, Unferth asserts, he surely can’t defeat Grendel. Beowulf defends his reputation with such grace and persuasion that he wins the confidence of King Hrothgar and the rest of the Danes. He points out that he swam with Breca for five nights, not wanting to abandon the weaker boy. Rough seas then drove them apart, and Beowulf had to kill nine sea monsters before going ashore in the morning. His reputation intact, Beowulf prepares to meet Grendel and further enhance his fame. Beowulf is courageous and famous for his performance in battle but equally well known for his good deeds. Although aggressive in war, Beowulf has “no savage mind” (Heaney 2180). Beowulf respects the gifts of strength and leadership that he possesses. As he prepares to meet the dragon, near the end of the poem, now King Beowulf again considers his reputation. He insists on facing the dragon alone despite the fact that his death will leave his people in jeopardy. Hrothgar’s Sermon warned Beowulf of the dangers of pride, and some critics have accused the great warrior of excessive pride in the defense of his reputation. A more considerate judgment might be that Beowulf is an old man with little time left and deserves the right to die as a warrior. The final words of the poem, stating that Beowulf was “most eager for fame’ ( Heaney 3182), might be best understood by a modern audience by remembering that, in Beowulf’s world, fame is synonymous with reputation.
As Beowulf is essentially a record of heroic deeds, the concept of identity is clearly central to the poem. The opening passages introduce the reader to a world in which every male figure is known as his father’s son. Characters in the poem are unable to talk about their identity or even introduce themselves without referring to family lineage. This concern with family history is so prominent because of the poem’s emphasis on kinship bonds. Characters take pride in ancestors who have acted valiantly, and they attempt to live up to the same standards as those ancestors.
While heritage may provide models for behavior and help to establish identity a good reputation is the key to solidifying and augmenting one’s identity. While Beowulf’s pagan warrior culture seems not to have a concept of the afterlife, it sees fame as a way of ensuring that an individual’s memory will continue on after death an understandable preoccupation in a world where death seems always to be knocking at the door.
Over the course of the poem, Beowulf matures from a valiant combatant into a wise leader. His transition demonstrates that a differing set of values accompanies each of his two roles. The difference between these two sets of values manifests itself early on in the outlooks of Beowulf and King Hrothgar. Whereas Beowulf, having nothing to lose, desires personal glory, the aged Hrothgar, having much to lose, seeks protection for his people. Though these two outlooks are somewhat oppositional, each character acts as society dictates he should given his particular role in society. While the values of the warrior become clear through Beowulf’s example throughout the poem, only in the poem’s more didactic moments are the responsibilities of a king to his people discussed. The heroic code requires that a king reward the loyal service of his warriors with gifts and praise. It also holds that he must provide them with protection and the sanctuary of a lavish mead-hall. Hrothgar’s speeches, in particular, emphasize the value of creating stability in a precarious and chaotic world. He also speaks at length about the king’s role in diplomacy, both with his own warriors and with other tribes.
Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin, is a story about A Game of Thrones takes place over the course of one year on or near the fictional continent of Westeros. The story begins when King Robert visits the northern castle Winterfell to ask Ned Stark to be his right-hand assistant, or Hand of the King. The previous Hand, Jon Arryn, died under suspicious circumstances. Ned Stark leaves Winterfell and rides south with Robert Baratheon. The same day, Ned’s bastard son, Jon Snow, leaves to serve at the Wall, a massive structure that protects Westeros from the wilderness of the far North. The group of men sworn to defend the Wall, the Night’s Watch, have been receiving reports of strange creatures and have been losing men with increasing frequency. Tyrion Lannister, a little person who is brother to Cersei and Jaime, travels with Jon to the Wall to see the massive structure. Meanwhile, on a continent east of Westeros, Daenerys Targaryen marries the warlord Khal Drogo, one of the leaders of the Dothraki people. Daenerys and her brother Viserys are the last surviving members of the family Robert defeated to become king, the Targaryens. Viserys thinks with Khal Drogo’s army he can retake the throne. Robert is mortally wounded in a hunt, and before he dies, he names Ned the Protector of the Realm, essentially an interim king, until Joffrey comes of age. Ned does not tell Robert that he knows Joffrey is not the true heir, since he is the son of Cersei and Jaime. Ned asks Littlefinger’s help to install the true heir, Robert’s brother Stannis, as the king, and Littlefinger agrees. After Ned’s capture, Arya escapes the castle in King’s Landing and Cersei holds Sansa hostage (she says she is holding Sansa for her own protection). Tywin Lannister, father to Tyrion, Cersei, and Jaime, wages war with Catelyn and her son, Robb Stark. Shrewdly outmaneuvering Tywin, Robb manages to defeat a portion of the Lannister army and capture Jaime. In King’s Landing, Joffrey, who is considered Robert’s heir, is crowned King. In the hopes that he can prevent his daughters being harmed, Ned confesses publicly to treason, and Joffrey has him executed while Sansa watches. Arya is in the crowd, though nobody knows it. Learning of his father’s death and his brother’s march to war, Jon tries to desert the Wall. But Jon’s friends convince him that he must stay and defend the Wall as he vowed. Daenerys sets a funeral pyre to burn Drogo and the woman, who tricked her and essentially killed her husband and child. Daenerys also places the three dragon eggs into the pyre. As the fire burns, Daenerys walks into it, and when finally it clears, Mormont and the Dothrakis find her with three newborn dragons at her breast.
A Game of Thrones is set in a harsh world, and numerous characters find themselves struggling as they face hard truths. Bran notably goes from a playful young boy with dreams of knighthood to being suddenly paralyzed and bedridden. Every hope he had for the future is abruptly taken away from him, or at least made vastly more difficult to achieve, yet he has no choice but to confront the reality that he can no longer walk. Sansa spends a great deal of the early part of the novel imagining Joffrey as valiant, and she imagines life in King’s Landing being all tournaments and pageants where attractive knights compete for honor. But as she meets the inhabitants of the city, and the Hound in particular, she realizes honor holds little importance in King’s Landing. And it is only when Joff has Ned beheaded that she finally recognizes Joff for who he truly is. By that point it is already presumed they will marry, and that impending marriage loses its romantic fantasy and comes to seem more like a sentence. Tyrion, and eventually Jon Snow, face difficult truths as well. Tyrion is small and somewhat misshapen, and he makes it a point to confront these facts as often as he can. He says to Jon Snow that people would rather ignore hard truths, but if you embrace the truth, it can never be used against you. His advice allows Jon to finally come to terms with his role in the Stark family as Ned’s bastard son, and thus not a true member of the family. In each case, the novel suggests that facing a harsh truth is not only necessary but also beneficial. It allows the characters to deal with their respective circumstances, and only by seeing those circumstances clearly can they improve their situations. Tyrion, for instance, who came to terms with his limitations long ago, knows what his strengths and weaknesses are, and he is able to play to his strengths while occasionally even turning his supposed weakness to his advantage.
Many of the important characters started out as young children and the reader has seen them mature over the years. This can be seen in the maturation of Sansa, Arya and Jon Snow and their increasing important roles in the plot structure. Honor is a huge deciding factor on one’s character, and people who don’t follow a certain code of conduct, either out of force of habit or as a necessity are branded with a low character for their life. This also implicated out of wedlock children like Jon Snow or Mya Stone, as they are thought to be born out of lust and deceit, and hence not trustworthy. People like Ned Stark and Jorah Mormont are filled with guilt for forsaking their honor even if it was for a single time. Then, their are some people who willingly forsake their honour and morality to serve a greater purpose, like Varys or as a form of revenge as Daenerys does by burning Mirri Maz Duur. Actions in the universe if A Song of Ice and Fire may or may not be dictated by honor but a person is certainly judged upon that. The perception for these characters born out of this judgement and their actual reality creates the actual conflict in them.
Many works of literature such as The Alchemist, Game of Thrones, and Beowulf, seem to have a similar theme involving a destiny a character must pursue even if it involves emotional or physical pain; going on a journey that brings a gift that the characters did not anticipate at first. It is commonly seen in all three of these books how important the journey of the protagonist is. Not only does it directly relate to the end goal of the journey, but also as well helps the protagonist mature into the person they had always wished they could become, and that is seen in each of the books. Santiago matures into an Alchemist who has completed his personal legend, Beowulf accomplished the maturation form being a great warrior to a great king, and Jon Snow’s actions prove him to be worth more than he originally thought of himself, as he makes a difference while serving the Night’s Watch.
Fig. 4. A Decision Tree for Iris and Fingerprint Score
False Acceptance Rate
The false acceptance rate is the measure of the probability that the biometric security system will incorrectly accept an access attempt by an unauthorized user. A system’s FAR is stated as:
False Rejection Rate
False Rejection Rate, or FRR, is the degree to which the system incorrectly accepts an access attempt by an authorised user. It is states as:
Figure 5 shows the relation between the FAR and FRR, where the vertical axis denotes percentage and the horizontal axis denotes accuracy.
EER is the Equal Error Rate, which denotes the threshold values for FAR and FRR.
FAR gains the highest importance in practical applications, however, there exists the disadvantage of the FAR value providing only half the information. Hence, the FRR needs to be calculated too.
Hence, if a system is said to have a low FAR, it is necessary to find the value of FRR at this level of FAR. A very high level of FRR is undesirable even in such cases.
Practically, this scenario means that an unauthorised person is denied access. But, it would require the genuine user would have to try multiple times before gaining verification. This requires the system to be re-evaluated.
Fig. 5. Graph Describing Equilibrium point between FAR and FRR
Our paper proposes a fusion approach incorporating the second level decomposition of images. Each biometric will be decomposed and the LL bands extracted. Further, each LL band will be substituted for the other three bands in one of the biometric decompositions to produce a single image containing fused information. This can undergo inverse transforms to give a feature extracted fused image as output. Four attributes: finger, knuckle, iris and the face will be considered. Six transforms can be applied, each in combination with wavelet transforms. These will be compared to give an optimal solution.
Multimodal biometrics are an upgrade from traditional bio- metric systems for increasing security and access control. Various methods exist for pre-processing, feature extraction, fusion, matching and decision, which have been briefly described in the paper. Combining the second level decomposition of four different biometrics (face, iris, fingerprint, knuckle print) in the fusion of biometrics is a dependable solution.
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