Quest - Modern Literature

Modern Literature

Quests continued in modern literature. Analysis can interpret many (perhaps most) stories as a quest in which the main character is seeking something that he desires, but the literal structure of a journey seeking something is, itself, still common. Quests often appear in fantasy literature, as in Rasselas by Samuel Johnson, or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion go on a quest for the way back to Kansas, brains, a heart, and courage respectively.

A familiar modern literary quest is Frodo Baggins's quest to destroy the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings. The One Ring, its baleful power, the difficult method which is the only way to destroy it, and the spiritual and psychological torture it wreaks on its Bearer; J. R. R. Tolkien uses all these elements to tell a meaningful tale of friendship and the inner struggle with temptation, against a background of epic and supernatural warfare.

The Catcher in the Rye is often thought of as a quest plot, detailing Holden's search not for a tangible object but for a sense of purpose or reason.

Some writers, however, may devise arbitrary quests for items without any importance beyond being the object of the quest. These items are known as MacGuffins, which is sometimes merely used to compare quests and is not always a derogatory term. Writers may also motivate characters to pursue these objects by meanings of a prophecy that decrees it, rather than have them discover that it could assist them, for reasons that are given.

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