Symbolism in "The Alchemist" - King Melchizedek
When Santiago travels to Tarifa in southern Spain, he only thinks about seeing the merchant’s daughter again. But when he sits to read a book, he is troubled by an old man. This seemingly normal old man surprises Santiago by reading his mind, and has him listening closely from then on. He tells him about personal legends, the soul of the world, the world’s greatest lie, and where Santiago’s treasure and personal legend are. It is this basis of knowledge and motivation that sends him on his journey.
King Melchizedek’s role in The Alchemist is to be the mentor. He teaches Santiago about what a personal legend is and how he can fulfill his personal legend. Meeting Melchizedek was what helped to encourage Santiago to go find the treasure and complete his personal legend. Melchizedek is mentioned to look much like the crystal merchant, hinting that Melchizedek was helping the entire time. He enhances the story by pushing Santiago the whole way through his Personal Legend.
King Melchizedek is a representation of hope. In the text he says “Sometimes I appear in the form of a solution, or a good idea. At other times, I make it easier for things to happen.” King Melchizedek is the catalyst that tells you pursue the personal legend, or keep you from giving it up. He does this through small successes which give you better expectations for the future. Hope’s definition, which is “an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes” is very similar to Melchizedek’s purpose and what he does.
Another allegorical similarity is that Melchizedek is like a reborn Jesus. His name means "righteous is my king" in Hebrew, and Salem is another name for Jerusalem. In the Bible, he brings bread and wine (like Jesus!) and blesses Abraham. These similarities to Jesus show King Melchizedek as a symbol of hope.
There are many people in our everyday lives who act as a mentor just as King Melchizedek mentored Santiago. These people teach us and help us understand important lessons. They are often symbols of hope and guidance. We rely on these people to bring us out of our comfort zones to experience new things. Many of us experience anxiety when we are given a chance to step into the unknown and stand firmly in the belief that we don't need to change and grow. Friends, parents, siblings, teachers, and occasionally random people pressure us to take the leap of faith into this unknown. It is mentors such as the aforementioned people and King Melchizedek that prompt us to take this first step into a whole new, and gratifying, world.