Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Today’s Question by the reader : Joshua Wilde

Author: Paulo Coelho


When the subject of gender equality is brought up regarding Santiago’s quest for treasure versus Fatima’s fate of simply waiting for Santiago, how do you respond?

Do you feel it is sexist to give Santiago a Personal Legend involving travel, treasure and adventure while making Fatima’s Personal Legend a man, thereby causing her to simply wait for his return in order to be fulfilled?

It almost sounds like you’re saying women need only the love of men to be fulfilled and to grow spiritually, but men, in addition to needing the love of women, also need to follow their passions…and if that means that women have to wait around forever doing the necessary household chores, so be it.

I suspect that this was not your intended message, so if you would share your thoughts on these themes and what they symbolize to you, it would be much appreciated!

Dear Joshua,

Indeed, when I wrote the story of The Alchemist, I wasn’t thinking on gender terms. It is impossible in my eyes to tell a story having a “politically correct” agenda.

Having said this, even though Fatima portrays the condition of women in traditional cultures, I don’t believe women today are to be confined to the house-wife status at all.

In other books of mine, especially in The Zahir, I show the personal legend of a woman that feels the need to part from her loved one.

I believe there are as many personal legends as there are people in this world. If a woman feels her personal legend is to wait for her love – then it’s valid in my eyes (and not degrading at all). In the other hand if a woman feels her soul is asking for other things, then it’s equally valid. We should all focus in what truly makes us happy.

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