The Devil and Miss Prym is an allegory disguised as a novel that deals with whether or not people are good or evil. The story is based around a stranger, a man in his 50's, who travels to the small town of Viscos with eleven bars of gold, ten of which he will use to tempt the people of Viscos to commit a crime, specifically, to coerce the people into murdering one of their own. Enter Chantal Prym, a young woman in Viscos who agrees to act as a messenger for the stranger, for a price. Thus sets the stage for the moral conflict in the village that will soon set things into action.
"The man opened the window of his room, hoping that the cold would silence the voice of his devil for a few moments." (Coelho 83). I think that this quote sheds to light many of the central themes in this book. It talks about the mans devil, implying that every person has their own set of angels and demons, and that it us up to that singular person to decide which of the two to listen to. That is the core of the novel, that it is the stranger who is being lead by his devil in order to make the choice that he wanted to prove that mankind was evil, and therefore put the people of Viscos is a difficult place, to determine whether killing thier own is worth the ten gold bars that will forever grant them free of financial woes.
Coelho's purpose was to determine whether human beigs were good or evil, and he set up the dilema in a way that would seem as though the people would give into the pressure and kill one of the townspeople out if greed. But, without giving anything away, Coelho cheats both himself and his readers at the end, leaving me very unsatisfied by the end of the "novel" and I believe that he could have ended it much better than he had. The theme was obviously about good vs. evil and the temptation of money and other worldly things.
All in all, I was not very happy with this book. The charcters were all horrible and one-dementional, and I could barley connect with any of them on a moral level. I was also mad at the writing style, which constantly flipped between characters with no real direction, making parts very confusing and hard to follow. As stated previously, I didn't like the ending, feeling it was to abrupt and picture-perfect in an otherwise gritty book. Honestly, if it wasn't for the ending, I could have forgivin any other faults. It was a decent, though heavy, read that deals with serious moral questions that made me think about whether evil for a cause, is still evil. Do the ends really justify the means? 2/5 stars for effort. I wouldn't recomend this book for anyone under the age of 30.