Toward Individuation: A Psychoanalytical Study of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist
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Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist depicts the protagonist’s hunt for treasure which is highly symbolic of the spiritual quest for self-realization and self-discovery. Motivated by the recurring dream of a hidden treasure and desirous of bringing meaning to his life, Santiago undertakes a journey. This paper contends that his journey towards the realization of his dream actually involves a psychological process of individuation that integrates the contrasting aspects of the human psyche and makes use of the unconscious as conscious. It is an attempt to analyze his physical travels from a psychoanalytic perspective so as to posit that seeking spirituality is more about psychological change than temporal and spatial mobility. This investigation is, in fact, based on the exploration of how Coelho’s protagonist completes this process of wholeness and it draws on the theory of individuation presented by Swiss Psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung. By using Jungian Archetypal method of analysis, it can be seen that Santiago is very much influenced by operative archetypes, the acceptance and integration of which has an impact on his spiritual development. The realization that the physical treasure lies exactly where he initiated his journey is the consequence of his self-actualization.