“The Devil and Miss Prym” by Paulo Coelho

This world is a cloth full of patterns and ornaments, on it each is different from the other. Each belongs to something or someone eccentric from the other. This cloth is bound strongly together by bonds known as threads and when we tend to disgrace someone else we are tearing that cloth apart by our own hands and our own strength. However this strength that we use to break each other apart can be better utilized in building each other up.

Each one of us as individuals come from differing backgrounds, homelands, cultures, traditions, societies, religions and each one of us has variant beliefs and values. The question which arises is, what is wrong and what is right. We all consider our own deeds and actions to be correct and others’ to be incorrect because this is the human nature. We are accustomed to think that we are following the right way while others go astray.

This book tackles a really important question, “Is the human essence evil or pious?” It revolves around the realities and practicalities of the real world and how we are surrounded by them everyday. Through these crooked woods and muddy roads we identify what is right for us and what is wrong. The sense of right and wrong differs from individual to individual since many variables affect this classification. The Devil and Miss Prym is a book of great wisdom that deals with the real world paciticalities and the concept of wrongdoing and righteousness.

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Picture Credits: Harpercollins

The Author, Plot and More Information

The Devil and Miss Prym is a novel written by the well-known and highly respected Brazilian novelist, Paulo Coelho. I have read two more books of Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist and Aleph and I have also written two separate blogs related to them. In each of those blogs I have mentioned about the life of Paulo Coelho in detail. Briefly he is a Brazilian writer who was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947. He grew up to be involved in various careers including a theater director, actor, lyricist and journalist. He has written many bestsellers which were mostly written in his native language Portuguese but were later translated into other languages as well.

The main characters of the story include:

  • Chantal Prym
  • Carlos

The story is set in a small village known as Viscos where the people tend to be pious and righteous incessantly following in the footsteps of their former hero, Ahab. Chantal Prym is a barmaid who is continually trying to make something out of her life and is currently stranded in a land where she has to choose between her dull village life or her future dreams. Then comes a stranger in the village who mysteriously calls himself Carlos without a surname. One of the widowed elderly woman of the village, Berta sees Carlos and instantly realizes that there is a devil accompaning him.

Anyhow, Carlos tries to blend in with the people and later he presents a situation in front of the entire village. The situation was that anyone in the village had to be murdered in a week’s time and if this happens then he will give the village a great amount of gold to make it rich and wealthy. This circumstance was conveyed to the village by his bait who was the barmaid, Chantal Prym. Now Prym knows the place in the mountains in which Carlos has hidden the gold bars so she is torn between either stealing the gold and running away from this bland life to pursue her dreams or to tell the entire village about it and wait for their cowardice to rise and make dull decisions. The question that remains in the mind of Carlos is “Are people good or evil in pure essence?” and to find its answer he has positioned the villagers in a game of good or evil like chess pieces on a chess board.

My Review and Experience Regarding The Book

This was my third time reading Paulo Coelho and each time it has been an incomparable experience. I have never been taken that afar by a book as that of this one. The Devil and Miss Prym is like that book that reminds you of every turning point in your life in which you’re only left with one decision in your mind, “Do I follow what I want to pursue or do I do that which others want from me?” Every cliff in our life brings us inevitably to this question mark.

This book has taught me a lot about the human psychology and the everlasting essence of virtue and impropriety. How we all as humans are controlled by the devils on one side and the angels on the other and our human soul torn in between. This book has a plot that seems quite simple but has millions of threads of destinies intertwining with one another in the marathon to reach their destination that fate has decided for them.

It is astounding to see how the lives of only two characters are greatly influenced by the innumerable characters surrounding their lives. People around us are the ones that manifest in us the mindset to do something whether it might be beneficial or harmful. This book deals with something that all of us have experienced at some point in our lives or are incessantly experiencing everyday, the effect of good and evil and the decision to change or remain the same. We are constantly making decisions in our life and thus at times those decisions are difficult and we find ourselves astray in the fields of anonymity.

The characters of the book are masterfully created and the philosophies and legends do take you by surprise. It is a book with questions that have to be answered but they don’t have a single answer. There are limitless answers to those questions but reading them gives you a chance to think for yourself and from the minds of infinite others. This book has given me an important insight towards human psychology and persona and has allowed me to think with boundless perspectives.

My Favorite Lines From the Book

Here are a few lines from the book The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho that have stayed with me:

(P.S. All of these quotes/lines ARE from The Devil and Miss Prym and they are written by Paulo Coelho, I was just too lazy to write it besides every line.)

  • “Anyone who loves in the expectation of being loved in return is wasting their time.”
  • “Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”
  • “People want to change everything and, at the same time, want it all to remain the same.”
  • “So you see, Good and Evil have the same face; it all depends on when they cross the path of each individual human being.”
  • “Life can seem short or life can seem long, depending on how you live it.”
  • “Playing the part of a charitable soul was only for those who were afraid of taking a stand in life. It is always far easier to have faith in your own goodness than to confront others and fight for your rights. It is always easier to hear an insult and not retaliate than have the courage to fight back against someone stronger than yourself; we can always say we’re not hurt by the stones others throw at us, and it’s only at night – when we’re alone and our wife or our husband or our school friend is asleep – that we can silently grieve over our own cowardice.”
  • “It isn’t the light you want to recover, it’s the certainty that there is only darkness.”
  • “Your heart is dead, your soul is in darkness. The devil by your side is smiling because you are playing the game he invented.”
  • “It’s the same with most people in this world; they seek suffering in the most joyous of places because they think they are unworthy of happiness.”

“It was all a matter of control. And Choice. Nothing more, nothing less.”

– Paulo Coelho from The Devil and Miss Prym


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