Brida Summary

Paulo Coelho

Brida

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Brida Summary

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Paulo Coelho’s third novel, Brida, tells the story of a young woman on a quest for knowledge and fulfillment. As the novel begins, Brida seeks out two teachers. The first is Magnus, who teaches her about the tradition of the sun, in addition to helping her conquer her fears. In Brida, Magnus sees his soul mate—essentially the other half of his own soul. The second teacher is Wicca, who instructs Brida in the knowledge and rituals of the tradition of the moon. While practicing these rituals, studying tarot cards, and dancing to the sound of the world, Brida begins to understand that she is a witch. While the forward movement of the plot is somewhat slow—consisting mostly of conversations between Brida and the characters, the pace begins to quicken when Brida has a vision of a previous life where she is a woman preparing to die with the Cathars in the fortress of Monsegur in thirteenth-century France. She is then awakened from her vision and proceeds with training in the rituals and training needed to become a witch.

As a character, Brida is unsympathetic and self-absorbed. She uses those around her to achieve her goals. Similarly, Wicca is difficult to understand and warm up to. This mentor shares many of the same characteristics as Brida. However, Magnus is quite the opposite. He is quite amenable, and the portions of the book written from his perspective are more palatable. Lorens, another prominent character in the novel, and Brida’s lover, although likable in many ways, is not as well rounded as Magnus and Wicca and therefore does not capture the reader’s interest as thoroughly as the others.

In addition to Brida’s journey of self-discovery, Coelho also includes religious themes in the novel. There are prevalent overtones of paganism mixed with Roman Catholicism. The book makes many references to the divine, specifically God and Jesus, indicating in one instance that Jesus was “a woman before he became a man.” The reader may notice the somewhat unorthodox worldview of Christianity the author includes via Brida’s contemplation of the crucifix as it relates to Jesus’s purpose on the cross. These viewpoints are continually mingled with Brida’s continued quest to become a witch, as though the author were seeking to find similarities between the concepts of paganism and Christianity. One such example juxtaposes the biblical parable of the woman searching for the lost coin and Brida’s constant search for the knowledge needed to fulfill her destiny. As such, Coelho’s novel depicts the path to God as based on an individual’s actions. As Brida continually seeks to understand the path she has chosen, which will ultimately lead her to discover her destiny, Coelho also illustrates the need for modern pilgrims to continually search, not only for a deeper knowledge of themselves but also a more tangible understanding of the will and plan of God.

While the spiritual aspects of the novel are most profound, Coelho’s protagonist also struggles with the more visceral challenges of the heart. This struggle is personified by the two people Brida considers her soul mates. The first is her teacher Magnus. The second is her lover, Lorens. This conflict within her represents the author’s attempt to illustrate the subtle battle between the id (pleasure-seeking) and the superego (the quest for perfection) that exists within each human being. Brida’s quest for perfection is straightforward. As she continually practices the skills of her trade, she becomes more proficient, therefore coming ever closer to achieving the goal of becoming a witch. Her quest for pleasure, however, is more ambiguous. Although Brida is inextricably linked to Lorens, she is uncertain if he is truly her soul mate. Her relationship with Magus lends itself to the same feelings. Brida must seek the counsel of Wicca to determine the truth about what a soul mate is. Ultimately, Brida discovers that love brings both pleasure and pain in equal measure. While her connection with Magnus is one she will never forget, she is bound to Lorens and therefore chooses him in the end.

Coelho’s novel touches on many subjects relevant to the human condition with a hint of the supernatural thrown in. Among these topics are witchcraft, spirituality, magic, and the search for self. Perhaps the most important theme prevalent throughout the novel is the idea of soul mates. As was the case with Brida, the author emphasizes that it is possible to meet more than one soul mate in life, with each individual resonating with a different aspect of a person’s soul. Thus, as is the case with much of Coelho’s work, “Brida is a novel that utilizes allegorical and metaphorical ideas to paint a broader picture of the importance of not only continually searching for the path that leads us to our ultimate destiny, but that the road to one’s destiny is often not as clearly defined as one might like.”

 

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