It is often learned that the symbolic use of nature around us often plays a huge part in displaying the loss of an individual's innocence, which can be easily destructible from the start. According to Northrop Frye’s theory of archetypes, the protagonist, in any form of media, undergoes an event in which they lose their innocence and naivety.Due to this change which they walk through, they are forced to learn how to approach certain scenarios and adapt to certain situations, while they add to their life experiences. This is proven in the novel, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and the movie, Blood Diamond directed by Edward Zwick. This idea is explained in both media’s through a common form of nature present; the desert.In the beginning, the mysterious atmosphere causes Santiago and Dia to become aware of how quickly death surrounds them as they get deeper into the desert. Next, the experience that they gain, aids in more conscientious of their surroundings while they learn how adapt. Lastly, both Dia and Santiago obtain wisdom and maturity, which results in a new form of motivation in the rest of their journey.
In many cases, the symbolic archetype, the desert,plays a significant role in forming self awareness, and initiating a lonely quest of meaning by having to deal with dangerously unfamiliar obstacles which result in the concept of death, gradually planted into the conscience. For example, in The Alchemist, Santiago is taken across the desert in search of his Personal Legend, but realizes how much uneasiness the desert carries. This is proven when the caravan leader warns the travelers that, “in the desert, disobedience means death” (Coelho 73). Santiago starts to understand the many dangers associated in his journey through the desert in perusal of his Personal Legend, as it advances. The fact that he is familiarized and accustomed to his shepherd lifestyle makes his exposure to this new setting more unsettling as he discovers the many hidden threats in the desert. He also has developed an understanding that carelessness results in death and consequently, causes him to adjust his views to form a more alert perspective.
Similarly, in Blood Diamond, Dia gets captured by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in which he is taught with a group of children his age to kill innocent people, forget their families, and pledge loyalty to the RUF.He recognizes the great possibility of death in his situation as he is forced to obey, and somewhat learn to enjoy and believe what is being done is right. In the production, Zwick incorporates this when Dia is told, “ your mothers and fathers are dead. Your brothers and sisters are dead. You are dead too. But you will be reborn with us. We are your family now”(0:34:57). Dia is taught to change his views and perspective by exposure to manipulation at a high degree, in which he is unknowingly giving up his innocence. The emphasis on these words lures him closer towards the wrong doing.
Moreover, characters often lose their innocence due to exposure to harsh atmospheres in many occurences of the archetype. Thus, a sense of a sort of awakening is diffused which allows the characters in both media, to become better equipped for challenging situations. For instance, in The Alchemist, Santiago loses his innocence as he discovers the solemn truth and the true form of the desert. The Alchemist instructs Santiago to “love the desert but never trust it completely,” because “it kills those who become distracted.” (Coelho 113). Santiago’s simpleness is the result of his inexperience, however with time, he begins to understand and notice a different side to the lonesome land. The once calm known desert becomes a mighty obstacle for Santiago, which he must overcome in order to pursue his Personal Legend. He realizes that he cannot be deceived by the deserts serene and harmless facade and must be aware of its true nature in order to endure.
Likewise, in Blood Diamond, Dia’s innocence transitions towards treacherousness as he faces more hardships. With these occurrences, a newfound sense of environmental recognition causes him to be more aware of his surroundings and the many challenges that circle around him.In the film, Zwick integrates this through the whole scene in which Dia stands with the RUF and takes many innocent lives. He refers to himself as“I am see me no more”(1:08:43). This displays the idea of the complete transformation of brainwashing Dia and other children have gone through in order to stand where they are now. The cinematography of this scene connects Dia to the nature of the desert in Africa. In turn, this allows him to adjust to the new environment and recognize that he is approaching things through a right perspective, which is basically leading him down a negative path. In the film, Zwick also integrates that Dia’s uniqueness causes him to come back to the right path and signifies, that after all the experiences that shaped Dia, he was able to come back and recognize what is right through the loss ofhis total innocence.
Furthermore, the archetype emphasizes the effect of youthful innocence of inexperience as the character of the protagonist in the media developed wisdom and maturity from the vary experiences through their journey. For example, in The Alchemist, Santiago gains perceptionthrough each obstacle in the desert.Through his adaption to the world of experience, he learns many lessons that change his overall perception of the world. He realizes that he can “learn something from the desert, too.” as “it seems old and wise.” (Coelho 75). The overall journey allows Santiago to connect and communicate with nature which teaches him valuable lessons which he implements. His curiosity in the journey provides him with knowledge and necessary skills which change the outlook of the desert.In distinction to this, he learns to read and follow omens, and successfully adapt to unfamiliar environments in a wise way, allowing him to survive.
In the same way, Dia struggles to understand who he was and what he was doing. He was between manipulation and reality, which made it hard to understand what he was losing. Through this he gains new experiences which lead to him on the wrong path, which later aid in changing his perspective ofwho he is. In distinction to this, he learns that family is most important, and that if he be placed in other situations, he has the ability to withstand further manipulation of his mind because of his many experiences of what’s right and what's wrong. However, by the end of the film, the desert creates a companionship between him and his father Solomon. Hence, he loses his innocence throughout the challenging journey, and in return, gains a sense of adulthood. Thus, much like Santiago, Dia also becomes a changed individual as a result of his altered perspective about the world around him.
In conclusion,Northrop Frye’s theory of the archetypes of youthful innocence of inexperience is undoubtedly portrayed through the symbolic desert in both the novel, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, and the movie,Blood Diamond, directed by Edward Zwick. In both occasions, Santiago and Dia lose their naivety and gain maturity through the awareness of the concept of death, sense of awakening, and personality manipulations by the desert, and all of what it contains. Ultimately the archetype helps the hero's for the better, by laying out obstacles and providing them with knowledge of experience so they are better able to conquer greater obstacles with a newfound perspective.