73 pages 2 hours read

Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1988

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Reading Context

Use these questions or activities to help gauge students’ familiarity with and spark their interest in the context of the work, giving them an entry point into the text itself.

Short Answer

1. What is an allegory? With what allegories are you familiar?

Teaching Suggestion: The Alchemist itself is an allegorical text, so introducing students to this concept beforehand can be useful. Allowing time for initial discovery of other allegories online might be beneficial to students. Depending on the interests and abilities of the class, students might investigate the ways in which some prominent literary works function as allegories (e.g., Animal Farm, The Crucible, the medieval morality play Everyman).

  • What Is an Allegory?” at the Oregon State University site introduces allegories and several examples. Students may watch a four-minute video and/or read text.
  • Plato’s Allegory of the Cave” is perhaps the most well-known example of an allegory. This four-and-a-half-minute video by TED-Ed explains it in detail.

2. What is the hero’s journey? What are the key elements of this narrative structure?

Teaching Suggestion: This is a good way to introduce students to the journey of the hero and the narrative structure espoused by Joseph Campbell. They might not be familiar with his name, but undoubtedly, they have seen the structure of separation-initiation-return in countless texts.