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The Alchemist as a Monomyth

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Throughout the years, certain writers were able to set off a deep sympathetic resonance within readers by their usage of archetypal patterns. One of those patterns is known as the hero's journey, which Joseph Campbell gave an understandable idea of in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. According to his book, while comparing world's mythology, he found that no matter how far cultures are from each other, they will still have the same structure of hero's journey in their legends (Voytilla vii).

Furthermore, Campbell explained such patterns by using Carl Jung's theory of the collective unconscious, which he was strongly influenced with. Psychological organs that developed through the evolution, is the idea Jung gave of archetypes (Jung 81). To him they are recurring patterns, images and ideas which all humans inherited in their unconsciousness (Volgar 23). In addition, Campbell described his theory as a reoccurring cycle of pattern consisting of three phases: Departure, Initiation and Return, which he calls The Monomyth (Campbell 28), a deep inner journey of transformation that every hero must go through in order to grow (Voytilla vii).

As a result, several applications to Campbell’s theory have been conducted on postmodernism literature in works like Voytilla’s Myth and The Movies: Discovering the Myth Structure of 50 Unforgettable Films, where she applied the theory on major works such as The Godfather to even The Beauty and The Beast. But none was conducted on The Alchemist the self-established modern classic by Paulo Coelho.

Therefore, this paper attempts to take a first step on applying The Monomyth theory on Santiago’s journey, the protagonist of The Alchemist, as it focuses on the major traits of hero's journey pres...

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...In conclusion, we can say that after applying Joseph Campbell's theory of The Monomyth on The Alchemist; it is noticeable that despite The Alchemist being a postmodernism wok of literature, the author Coelho used all major patterns of the hero's journey of ancient myth in his novel and this developed Santiago's journey from an ordinary one into an archetypal one.

Works Cited

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004.

Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. London: HarperCollins, 2002.

Jung, Carl. Man and his symbol. London: Aldus Books Ltd, 1964.

Volgar, Christopher. The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. Studio City: Michael Wiese Productions, 2007.

Voytilla, Stuart. Myth and the Movies: Discovering the Myth Structure of 50 Unforgettable Films. Ventura Boulevard: Michael Wiese Productions, 1999.
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