The Role of Dreams in Paulo Coelho`s The Alchemist

The Role of Dreams in Paulo Coelho`s The Alchemist
It is known that dreams play an important role in the life of any individual. In most cases, dreams are ?involuntary conjuring up of images, sounds, ideas, and feelings as well as other sensations during the individual?s sleep? (What are Dreams?). The issue concerning the significant meaning of dreams has been discussed by a great number of psychologists, scientists, parapsychologists, psychoanalysts, including the Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud who significantly contributed to the interpretation of dreams. It is found that ?dream imagery is usually fanciful and not realistic and they are generally outside the control of the dreamer, with the exception of Lucid Dreaming? (What are Dreams?). The dreamers are considered to be the participants in the dreams who can be involved in different adventures which seem to them very real while they are asleep. Besides, dreams can be of different types: horrifying and frightening, boring and calm, magical and wonderful adventures (McNamara 29). The novel The Alchemist written by Paulo Coelho in 1988 gives an opportunity to understand the importance of dreams and their interpretation. The main character of the book, a young Andalusian shepherd Santiago makes a journey to Egypt after having a dream of finding treasure in one of the magic Egyptian Pyramids. The young man?s travelling to Egypt is not a contingency. It is his old dream which becomes true when he follows his fate using different signs and symbols.

My goal in this paper is to discuss the topic Dreams paying special attention to its cultural importance and focusing on its most interesting and unusual attributes and to explain the role that this topic plays in the novel The Alchemist with a particular focus on how the topic helps convey the lessons taught to the story?s protagonist, the young shepherd boy from Andalusia.

In the novel The Alchemic, Paulo Coelho, the famous Brazilian novelist and the author of a number of other interesting novels, uses his personal philosophic views concerning the role of dreams, fate and symbols in the life of any individual. One of the most popular quotes from the novel which defines the role of fate in the life of an individual belongs to the alchemist, the powerful man whom Santiago met in Egypt and who helped the young shepherd to find his personal myth and his mission in this world, ?And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it? (Coelho 61). When Santiago meets Fatima, a beautiful Arabian girl who lives at the Al-Fayoum in oasis, he says, ?So, I love you, because the entire universe conspired to help me find you? (Coelho 79). The young man Santiago has a dream to find treasure and the courage to follow his fate and achieve his goal. He uses different signs in order to achieve his goal and to find the hidden treasure in the Egyptian Pyramids.

However, the young man?s desire to find the treasure is not the only one. His dream helps his to learn more about himself, to find his personal legend in this world, to meet his love, and to cope with many difficulties. It means that the role of dream in the life of an individual is an important one. Santiago?s travelling to Egypt helps him to see the greatness of the world and to meet different people who change his personal philosophic views concerning fate, love, fortune. At the end of the novel The Alchemist, the young man realizes that ?treasure lies where his heart belongs? and that his treasure is wisdom he acquired and the discoveries he made in the process of the travelling to Egypt (Coelho 89).

In order to prove the fact that dreams are really very important in our life and can influence the future events, it is necessary to refer to the history of dream interpretation. It is known that the history of dream interpretation is closely connected with the names of such outstanding psychoanalysts as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung who ?enhanced dream interpretation at the very least by provoking thought in mainstream Western society; they got the masses thinking outside the circle? (History of Dream Interpretation).

Moreover, the history of dream interpretation is investigated in many historical texts and folk tales throughout the ages. These sources prove the fact that there is ?something outside of the self, when in a dream state, has the capacity to provoke subconscious stories that are in some way related to one?s ?reality?, and as such, afford the dreamer with needed wisdom? (History of Dream Interpretation). However, this wisdom may be acquired in different ways as it may vary between cultures. It means that different cultures have different relation and reaction to dreams. But that only fact is evident: ?each culture or civilization imparted the impression that dreams are of significant worth and should not be ignored? (History of Dream Interpretation).

In the novel, Santiago has a dream which can be regarded as the language of universe. That is why both the gypsy of Tarifa whom he told about his dream and wanted to learn its interpretation and Melchizedeck , the King of Salem who told Santiago about his personal legend insist on his journey to Egypt (Coelho 23).


In conclusion, it is necessary to say that dreams play an important role in the life of any individual. In many cases, dreams allow to realize the meaning of life, to follow the fate and even to change different events in the future. In the novel The Alchemist written by Paulo Coelho, the main character Santiago uses his dream to change his philosophical views about the meaning of life and about the world. Although the novel is based on Santiago?s desire to find the hidden treasure in the Pyramids of Egypt, it has one more idea ? to prove the fact that dreams can help to acquire wisdom and to start a new life. Santiago?s dream is the sign of his inspiration, the sign to find his hidden treasure in the Pyramids of Egypt which helps him to discover his own personality and to find love and passion. That is why it is possible to conclude that the novel The Alchemist is the novel about spiritual growth of the individual.

Works Cited

Coelho, P. The Alchemist. Harper. San Francisco. 1993. Print.
History of Dream Interpretation. (2011) Dream December 23, 2011. Retrieved from:
McNamara, P. An Evolutionary psychology of Sleep and Dreams. Westport: Praeger. 2004. Print.
What are Dreams? (2011) October 2, 2011. Retrieved

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