One Hundred Years of Solitude

What is the significance of alchemy in 100 Years of Solitude?

Is it a metaphor? How does it impact Macundo?

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José Arcadio Buendía begins to explore alchemy, the pseudo-science of making gold out of other metals. That was just one of his many scientific pursuits (perpetual motion was another) that makes him go insane. It is his pursuit of the impossible that both drives this man into solitude and destroys this man.