The Alchemist : Theme, Characters and Full Book Summary

Published on 30-Sep-2022

The Alchemist

“The Alchemist” is a Portuguese novel written and published by a Brazilian author named Paolo Coelho. The book tells a story about a young boy who travels to Egypt to search for treasure. His dreams and his adventurous abilities help him during his expedition. The book became so popular that it has been translated into 56 languages worldwide. The themes of the story are the value of simplicity, pursuing personal legend sincerely, and the disadvantage of fear. 



Santiago is the protagonist of the story. He is a young shepherd from Andalusia. His repeating dreams about a treasure in Egypt force him to go and find the treasure in the Pyramids. 

The alchemist

 A 200 years old alchemist. He is wiser than ordinary men and is a powerful alchemist. He lives in the Al-Fayoum oasis and meets Santiago there. He has a powerful stone called the Philosopher’s, which can turn lead into gold.  

Crystal Merchant

 A struggling merchant from Tangier, Egypt. He is a kind-hearted, devoted Muslim who teaches Santiago his business and helps him. 

The Englishman

The Englishman is an educated scientist from England trying to learn from the alchemist. 


Fatima is a beautiful young woman living in the Al-Fayoum oasis. Santiago falls in love with Fatima and promises to return to her after he fulfills his legend. 


The Alchemist

The Alchemist full book summary

The story begins in Andalusia, where Santiago suffers from the same dreams every night. His dreams appear when he sleeps under the sycamore tree growing in front of the ruined church near his house. In his dream, a little boy tells him to seek the treasure that is in the pyramids. Confused, Santiago goes to a gypsy fortune teller and tells her about his dreams. The woman tells him to leave his life here and leave for Egypt immediately.

Santiago decides to leave for his legend and search for the treasure. On his way, Santiago meets an old man named Melchizedek, who knows magic. He also claimed that he was the King of Salem in disguise. He hands Santiago two magical stones, ‘Urim’ and ‘Thummim,” translating to ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ He tells Santiago that the stones will guide him in need. The older man convinces Santiago to sell all his cattle or animals and use the money to go to Tangier.

Santiago decides to do so, but after reaching Tangier, a thief robs him and takes away all the money. Lost and robbed, Santiago takes help from a merchant who offers him to work in his shop. The kind merchant teaches Santiago his business and tells him he needs to trust his gut and take some risks. Santiago takes some risks in the business as a fellow merchant, and within a year, he becomes a rich man.

After having enough money, he decides to leave for the treasure again. He joins a group of people in a caravan to the pyramids. There Santiago meets an Englishman and learns about the 200 years old alchemist. The Englishman tells Santiago that the alchemist has the Philosopher’s stone that can turn lead into gold and the Elixir potion that can cure all diseases. The caravan driver warns the passengers about the ongoing tribal wars in the deserts and plans to take the longer route through the oasis.

After reaching Al-Fayoum oasis, Santiago meets Fatima, a young, beautiful woman living there. Santiago falls in love with her and plans to marry her. When Santiago is walking alone, he predicts an upcoming attack of the tribes on the neutral Al-Fayoum oasis. He quickly warns the chief of the oasis and the people. Due to Santiago’s quick warning, the oasis people successfully defend themselves from the attack.

Santiago receives an invitation to meet the 200 years old alchemist. The alchemist takes Santiago on a trip in the desert and teaches Santiago the importance of listening to the signs nature gives and listening to his heart. Santiago decides to leave for his legend by himself and tells Fatima he will return for her. The alchemist offers to accompany Santiago on his travel. 

Santiago and the alchemist leave for the expedition, and on their way, the alchemist shares his wisdom with Santiago. He tells about the Soul of the World and the importance of being brave enough to listen to your conscience. 

There were almost to their destination, but before they could reach it, two Arab soldiers captured the alchemist and Santiago. The alchemist exchanges their lives in return for Santiago’s money. The soldiers agree not to kill them but hold them captive. Then the alchemist tells the soldiers that Santiago is a powerful alchemist and he will turn into wind within three days. The soldiers found it hard to believe and decided to wait three days to see if the statement was true.

After three days, a powerful sandstorm takes place in the desert. Santiago gets scared and asks help from the ‘Hand That Wrote All.’ He keeps praying when the mighty wind makes him disappear with the storm. Santiago then reappears on the other side of the camp, where the soldiers were amazed at his ability. They soon let the alchemist and Santiago go free. After reaching a safe distance, the alchemist shows Santiago the Philosopher’s stone.

He shows him the ability of the stone to turn lead into gold. He then gives Santiago the gold, which would help with his travels. The alchemist then goes somewhere else, leaving Santiago to fulfill his dream. After reaching the pyramids, Santiago starts digging for the treasure. Two local men notice Santiago and start beating him. Santiago tells them about his dream and everything that happened during his travel from Andalusia to Egypt.

They stop beating him up but instead mock him. One of the men said he also dreamed about a treasure in an old Spanish church with a sycamore tree. Santiago realizes that the treasure is not in Egypt but in Andalusia. He leaves Egypt and goes back to that ruined church near his house. He digs under the sycamore tree and finds the treasure full of gold and jewels. Santiago now decides to go back to Al-Fayoum oasis with all the treasure to reunite with his lover, Fatima.  


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