Quest vs. Conquest: Terrible Privlege vs. Glorious Purpose

Quest:  “a long and arduous search for something” or “An expedition undertaken in medieval romance by a knight in order to perform a prescribed feat

While those definitions aren’t “bad” ones, I prefer the concept of a quest that’s advocated by Tim Keller:  A quest is a journey that, in it’s undertaking, you either die or you return from it so changed that you cannot go back to your life as you knew it before.”  Built into the idea of a “quest” is uncertainty.  Inherent within is the possibility of failure; victory is not assured.  Contrast that with the idea of conquest.  In the 21st Century that term tends to be used by men in connection with exploits of a sexual nature.  It’s a term that indicates that “victory” is assured, or has already happened and it’s being told after the fact.  There is no uncertainty here, no opportunity for development of character when one considers conquest.  Conversely, a Quest is all about growth of character.

In the Avengers, Tony Stark has this great conversation with Bruce Banner wherein he explains the function of the miniature arc reactor in his chest, that it was the thing keeping him alive but also what powered his Iron Man armor.  Tony knew that it was a terrible privilege to be him, to be Tony and Iron Man; he accepted it, embraced it, and turned his greatest weakness into what enabled him to be a hero.  Stark didn’t always know this, but the previous two Iron Man films had put him on a journey of realization that brings him to this revelation and point of character growth, that ultimately affects decisions he makes later in the film that build his character and enable him to become even more of a hero.

Contrast this with Loki’s burden of conquest, his “glorious purpose” to rule.  In such a character, there is no thought for anything but his own victory.  Even though there is some already established back-story to Loki in Thor, there is no growth to the character that happens in Avengers; he’s still the conniving trickster – bent on the subjugation of others – who has family issues.

A quest has the potential for so much more while conquest is rather one-dimensional; stay Questy my friends, Conquest is for Supervillians.

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes

About Aaron

Author, Speaker, and Super Nerd. Aaron Welty speaks and writes regularly connecting the dots of life, faith, and science fiction. Originally from Michigan, he now lives and works in the Washington, D.C. Metro area.

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