A Comparative Examination Of Tropes Between The Princess Bride And The Alchemist

The Alchemist, written by Paulo Coelho, and The Princess Bride, directed by Rob Reiner, both epitomize the function of crossing the threshold and the interference of supernatural intervention in aiding the hero to resiliently continue through their journey in order to have a fulfilled life. The idea of “Crossing the Threshold”, in which a hero is demanded to embark on a journey to have a satisfying life, exemplifies the transition of the hero from ordinary life to a one in which their surroundings challenge them, forcing them to overcome obstacles.

In The Alchemist, Santiago, who leads an unadventurous but observative life as a shepherd, has a recurrent dream of uncovering treasures, which he becomes tentative about striving for but is given the desire to do so afterwards. While reading a book in Tarifa, he encounters an old man who claims to be the king of Salem. The king then proceeds to meticulously clarify to Santiago the significance and power of his dream when he remarks, “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one. And when you want something, the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” (Coelho 22). Melchizedek, who the readers learn to be is the old man’s name, with his enlightened advice, aids Santiago in developing a stronger self-assurance of his personal legend. With the wisdom and mentoring of Melchizedek, he convinces Santiago that his dream is indeed one that is worth deliberately pursuing.

Likewise, in The Princess Bride, the concept of crossing the threshold demonstrates the change in one’s ordinary behavior in order to be able to victoriously overcome barriers. Westley becomes encouraged to do everything he can with god-like perfection to pursue his love Princess Buttercup, who gets kidnapped. He gives up on his life as a farmboy and on being Dead Pirate Roberts. Later, after reaching a deserted island, he goes on to perform super-human tasks of besting Inigo in a duel, defeating Fezzik the giant in a fight, then becoming unaffected to poison just to rescue his love. Westley is forced to alter his normal human-like behavior and do extremely superior physical capacities beyond his normal capabilities to succeed in desiring to pursue his love interest. Both heroes, consequently, are forced to give up on their normal life to develop new areas of knowledge and experience that eventually aids them in achieving their ultimate desire.

In other words, they both must deny who they really were when they lived a habitual life and learn to accept themselves as a different person with greater potentials. However, the only real difference is that Santiago meets with a mentor that aids him in developing a stronger sense of commitment to his yearning, whereas Westley immediately goes on to attain his aspiration with no guide or mentor. Correspondingly, the presence of the supernatural intervention provides fulfillment for the hero to resolve their most troublesome times. Santiago, after being captured by the warring faction along with the Alchemist, becomes insisted to prove to them that he has the supreme adeptness to mystically transform himself into a natural force merely to stay alive. His hesitance and doubtfulness in turning himself into the wind turns out to be an auspicious one; “I learned the Alchemist’s secrets in my travels. I have inside me the winds, the deserts, the oceans, the stars, and everything created by the universe” (Coelho 146).

Santiago, who is threatened to death by the warring faction and unsure about his odds of being able to turn himself into the wind, subsequently becomes reassured with the assistance of his learned abilities to communicate with natural forces. The existence of such natural phenomenons, all of which Santiago is capable of reading and communicating to, serve as a magical force which provides him with the power to transform into the wind. Similarly, The Princess Bride has a special supernatural intervention that respirits the hero into persisting on with their desired aim. Westley, who faces torture under an electrical death chamber by Count Rugen momentarily dies, but only with the assistance of Miracle Max’s divine powers does he get resurrected.

Miracle Max’s presence as a character with godlike potentiality serves one key purpose: To bring back Westley back to life in order to refulfill his central desire. Westley gains a stronger eagerness of carrying on with his aim. In Santiago and Westley’s darkest time, the interference of a supernatural helps them become self-aware that there is a force that regains them hope in carrying out one’s yearning even in the most unpleasant times. Santiago assists himself in using supernatural intervention to transform himself into a, but Westley, on the other hand, is provided with supernatural aid from a superhuman person. To sum it up, the hero’s journey archetype of crossing the threshold and the interference of supernatural aid, all of which appear in both The Alchemist and The Princess Bride, serve as a motivation for the heroes to become more self-conscious of their real preparedness and also as an intentive purpose for them to become more resilient and promising of their successfulness.

10 October 2020
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