What does "the alchemist" mean in Coelho's The Alchemist?

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anthonda49 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An alchemist is a person who studies alchemy. Alchemy is a combination chemistry science and a philosophy both. The study seeks to change base metals into gold as well as find a cure for all diseases. In addition, it seeks to extend the life span of humans. In a way, it is an ideal, a goal toward which many strive, but no one achieves. The goal itself is unattainable because one would have to be the Creator to reach these goals. In literature, it can refer to anyone who seeks to attain the unobtainable much like Don Quixote who dreamed the impossible dream.