Alchemy, as stated by Webster's Dictionary, means the seemingly miraculous change of a thing into something better. The title The Alchemist embodies Paulo Coelho's novel by showing many incredible changes that the main character, Santiago, goes through. At the start of the story, Santiago is a self-caring shepherd whose only goal is to become wealthier and marry a merchant's daughter. However by the end of the novel he understands what is truly important in the world and .
This seemingly miraculous change is brought about by Santiago trusting himself, finding his personal legend, and becoming aware of his and the world's spirituality. At the beginning of the novel, Santiago is afraid to chase his dreams and trust his instinct. When he has a reoccurring vision of a treasure hidden at the bottom of the Great Pyramids and instead of trusting himself, he heads to go to a nearby town and visits a gypsy, women. There the women help Santiago to interpret the dream he had, and she confirms his previous suspicions about what it truly meant. Even after talking to the gypsy, he still had some doubts about going on this journey and if it was real. It is not until he meets Melchizedek, the king of Salem, and has a conversation about personal legends, which Santiago finally decides to pursue his dream. Instead of trusting himself, he sought others opinions before making a decision. Throughout his voyage, Santiago learns to trust himself. This is most prominent and sudden, when the alchemist and Santiago were captured, the alchemist did not tell Santiago exactly what he needed to do to be able to turn into the wind, but he was about to have faith in himself and be successful. This was a sudden change in Santiago, which was definitively better and more beneficial. The alchemist's eccentric ways of teaching, suggests that for one to connect with the Soul of the World, one must follow their own heart and listen to their environment which is exactly was Santiago learns to do.