17 June 2009

Free Will or Determinism: A Closer Look at The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

For a while now I have been curious as to whether or not the character of Link in the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time freely chooses to save the Princess out of his own love or as an arbitrary act manifested by destiny. Further, is Ganondorf really evil's true incarnation, and if so, does this mean that power is evil incarnate? The game raises intriguing questions such as these that I will ponder over this next entry.

The three principle characters can be easiestly identified through their unsubtle Triforce characteristics stated in the game. Ganondorf holds the Triforce of Power, Zelda the Triforce of Wisdom, and Link the Triforce of Courage. This is generally a simplification of the three Jungian archetypes of hero, damsel, and villain.

It appears at many times not only in OoT, but in many other Hylian-themed games, such as Wind Waker, that there are many incarnations of these three in the long history of Hyrule (although it may seem like the same Ganon continually reappears). This leads me to believe that there is some force of destiny who chooses who the Triforce is to inhabit, rather than Link and Zelda rising up from their own will to advance their cause.

Behold--the Triforce!

What is behind this divine force? It is most likely the three goddesses, Farore, Din, and Nayru, who are generally associated with Courage, Power, and Wisdom respectively. This is apparent in OoT, when Link gains the power to use an element of each goddess as a magic spell. There may also be some association with the Great Fairies, who have some kind of connection with the goddesses, giving the ability to grant Link most of his magic abilities.

In the earliest histories of Ganondorf, Zelda, and Link, all three start out as human beings. Ganondorf was a Gerudo male, one of which that was born every 100 years (don't ask me how that works), who heard of the triforce legend and sought it out. It is unclear, however, especially considering his appearances in other games, whether or not he was pulled towards seeking the triforce or if he actively chose to find it. Either way, when Link opened the door in the Temple of Light to claim the Master Sword, Ganondorf was able to seize the Triforce, and thus became the wizard Ganon.

Raar! Me am Ganon! Me eat boys!

The Triforce of Power corrupted Ganon and made him more and more evil, culminating in his beastly pig form, which can be seen in almost every Zelda game featuring Ganon as the final boss. The pig represents all of Ganon's greed and gluttony manifested in a grotesque, bloated true form. It is clear that Ganon wanted more and more power, to rule all of Hyrule, but was this because of his own innate dark ambition or the corruptive energies of the Triforce? Ganondorf was definately an ambitious man who weeded his way into the highest levels of Hyrule's governance. What is most likely is that Ganondorf was a man both ambitious and unstable, which when combined with the ultimate power made him completely insane, if not still a manipulative genius. After receiving the Triforce of Power, he only wanted to unite the other parts, even if that meant ripping them from Link and Zelda's dead bodies.

Zelda seems to be a spunky young girl, but very grave as an older woman. She has an innate outer beauty, which may or may not mean to refer to her also great inner beauty. As the feminine figure in the story, she holds the Triforce of Wisdom, the rational pivot point around power and courage. She is instrumental to the fight against Ganon and his evil, but not in a direct way, she knows what steps need to be taken to defeat him, but cannot do it herself. It may be somewhat sexist to classify a woman this way and limit her role in physical combat, but really, she is stated as the wisest of the three, and it is this wisdom which leads her not to fight, just opening doors and stuff.

The strongest argument for the invisible hand of fate is in Wind Waker, in which Tetra wakes up literally as Zelda's future incarnation with no will or choice in the matter. The story at this point is driven by plot, not character, although the characters react not necessarily how OoT's characters would. Tetra is much more spunky and energetic than Zelda was, and is not necessarily ecstatic about her new role.

Finally, there is Link. As the only character of the three that users actually play as, there is a great amount of choice actually. Breaking the fourth wall, a gamer may choose not to save the princess, although this would lead in incompletion of the game, which in essence is the only purpose in buying a game besides basic funness.

This nonsense aside, there is a great love between Link and Zelda that is never fulfilled. Link is the key, the child of destiny, and as such the producers may be hinting that Courage is in itself a stronger facet than power or wisdom. Only courage is what can stop the excess of power, who wisdom, and be the instrument through which the world is saved. Whereas wisdom is a trait that can be learned and studied, and power can be fought for and obtained, only Courage is a characteristic inherent and natural in one's self. For this reason, Link is the natural savior of the world through his Courage.

At the end of OoT, the sages, also people who destiny picked to be thrown out of their former lives to fulfill new roles in the Temple of Light, cast the evil Ganon into the Sacred Realm, in essence, trapping Ganon forever with his power, but where he can never use it in the material world. At this point, Princess Zelda sends Link back to the time when he was a boy.

Cute kids....special kids.

For background for those of you lacking knowledge, Link was commissioned as a 10-year old boy to fight the forces of evil, but destiny locked him with the master sword for seven years until he emerged a man to destroy Ganon. As a man, then, Link is in love with Zelda, but against his wishes she sends him back to his boyhood so he may regain his lost years. This is not an act of destiny, rather a gift from a friend. Link, though, wants to do the nasty no-pants dance with Zelda, which sucks. Their love is lost forever, although considering Link still probably has the maturity and experience level of a 10-yr old maybe that is a good thing.

So what have we learned? Perhaps even if destiny picks somewhat for some great act, they do not necessarily have to follow it. Or better yet, perhaps it is the innate personal characteristics which react to the plot of life that changes things. If Link, a boy of true heart, had been chosen for the Triforce of Power, maybe he would not have been corrupted. Then again, it was perhaps no accident in itself that Ganondorf was chosen to receive said power.

Thus the debate rages on. For centuries, no less. Anything more to add, do so below!

1 comment:

  1. If the triforce is considered some unknown force working for good, why does Ganandorf obtain one third of it? This would imply that the Triforce is not inherently "good" but also has implications of evil. Perhaps the triforce is a representation of the human condition itself, in which every man is not made up of entirely good or evil characteristics, but they are an amalgamation of emotions, desires, and morals - some good and some bad.


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