Critical Lens

Critical Lens. The following quote, “Sometimes failure is more beneficial than success” is a bold and eccentric statement to make, but it is indeed true. In my view, success is largely dependent on how we fail since it is what breeds learning and new understanding. It is impossible to be perfect in life and not to have committed a single mistake. Obstacles constantly present themselves, challenging and sometimes hindering our ability to overcome them at first. Although it may reveal our weakness, failure undoubtedly builds character and allows us to become what we ideally wish to be.The following works of literatures, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, demonstrate how failure pushes the protagonists of each individual story and provides a stepping stone toward reaching their goal. In The Alchemist, Santiago falls to several disheartening events, but they enable him to pick himself back up and continue on with the rest of his journey from Andalusia to the pyramids in Egypt. For instance, when Santiago arrives in the market town of Tangier, a thief robs him of his money for his journey, forcing him to seek work at a crystal shop.During his time there, Santiago learns the workings of a business and encourages the merchant to takes risks. These risks eventually pay off and Santiago becomes a rich man in just a year. The true test, however, for Santiago came with the passing of the desert, which is an important symbol in the book. With its harsh conditions and tribal wars, the desert is symbolic of the serious difficulties that await anyone in pursuit of reaching their goal or Personal Legend, but it also serves as an important teacher to Santiago during his journey to the pyramids.More than the desert heat, the desert’s dull and barren state test Santiago, as it diminishes his confidence at times. As Santiago learns, however, he discovers that even the desert contains life and the Soul of the World. Santiago begins to understand his environment and to see the signs of life in what seems to be a wasteland. This prepares him for the greatest test of all: to connect with the desert in an effort to become the wind. In the end, he does succeed, propelling him forward to reach his destination.In Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein becomes consumed by the desire to discover the secret of life and, after several years of research, becomes convinced that he has found it. Equipped with the knowledge, he spends countless months over creating a creature out of old body parts. The symbols of light and fire, which are constantly brought up throughout Victor’s experimentations, represent his knowledge and discovery. Victor experiences several failures, breaking him physically and deteriorating his health, but his determination strengthened.He learned about the errors he was making that caused him to fail, and with this, he finally brings his creation to life one climatic night. When he looks at the monstrosity that he has created, however, the sight horrifies him. In this case, light represents danger, as Victor’s act of creation eventually results in the destruction of everyone dear to him. The characters of Santiago and Victor Frankenstein are two perfect examples as to why failure is needed in order to succeed. From these books, it is shown that success is really the progressive understanding of pre-determined goals, while the very journey is what makes or breaks us.Both Santiago and Victor do face failures in their journeys toward achieving their dream, but without failing, they would have made not learned from their mistakes and gained an experience from it. Although the end result of Victor’s failures worked against him and Santiago’s failures allowed him to lead a life of success, what is most important from these experiences is the lesson learned and knowledge gained. This is what makes Victor and Santiago successful as the end result is not what matters most, but the amount of effort and ability to rise from failure in order to reach one’s goal.Critical Lens