Previous Legend of Zelda entries: Just an Article #7 Zelda Saga Breath of the Wild
In order to continue with the series about “The Legend of Zelda” games, I spotted an interesting characteristic found in almost any title of the franchise. This characteristic is based on the premise of female characters as guides or companions. I would like to write an extend essay about each of these characters, but for the sake of a short reading, I am going to shorten the lenght of the text and just talk about the main guiding elements of each character. If someone is interested on a deeper lecture about each one, please let me know in the comments below.
Disclaimer: For all the White Knights/Keyboard Warriors out there, this is just an objective analysis about the female characters on these games. I am not, under any circumstances, claiming that this situation is good or bad, better or worse than that of other characters. I have just studied it just because it is relevant and curious.
Let’s start with the most famous name of the saga, which can be found on the title, and is wrongly linked to the protagonist: Zelda. Princess Zelda is the origin of the games, even though we are supposed to play as Link. She is the daughter of the ruler of the kingdom, she has an special connection with her territory, and she tends to sacrifice herself in order to save her people. Zelda is usually the target of the Darkness in Hyrule, due to, normally, her power as Princess. Maybe, because of this special situation, Zelda can be taken as the narrator of the games, the main connection between the games (apart from our hero), which makes her the main connection for the story we, as players, have been told. In contrast with Link, who has almost no development through the games in terms of character evolution, Zelda has shown a real growth about how she interacts with the world. In the few seconds we can see her in the trailer of “Breath of the Wild”, Zelda is portrayed as a woman who suffers because of her own choices, who tries to fight against evil and who, in sum, expresses the feelings any person who tries to save Hyrule could have in his/her mind and heart. Even if we do play through Link, as stated in my last article, Zelda is the one who narrates and represents the proper story and its influence in the, fundamentally, player. I would like to call her, from now on, the General Guide.
Moving on from the overall guidance of Zelda, we can find, next to her, the Companion Guide, who can take the form of, principally, two figures: the fairy (usually called/associated to Navy or other female entities) and Midna. Both of them acts in a very intrinsic way with the development of the game itself, guiding us directly about how the game functions and trying to give us hints if we don’t act as we should in a given time or facing specific enemies or puzzles. The fairy is usually known by her repetitive voice, asking Link if there is some problem at any time, which can be somehow annoying if we take into account Link’s mutism. Mydna can also talk but it is a kind of mumbling, so it is incoherent but not mute at all. However, Midna has a deeper work when being Link’s Companion, which is creating a sort of dialogue and, what is even more surprising, relationship with Link, letting us know him a bit more. So, apart from guiding Link (or us) through the game, they also function as a proper voice which can be subtitute of our hero’s actual voice, giving us, the players, a sense of proper companion since they don’t just guide but also accompany Link (us) at the same time. Maybe they don’t really talk about the story, as Zelda does, but their implication in the development of the story is as important as Zelda’s, specially for Midna, in terms of metagame.
Finally, we face the Subtle Guide, that are those women who help Link through his journey, sometimes being totally vital for the development of the game, but not being present or needed the whole time. This group is divided into two: the Golden Goddesses and Sheik (representative of the Sheikahs or Shadow Folk). The Goddesses are a group of divine entities that represents the three elements of the Triforce. They also have their own temples and we, as Link, might obtain help when visiting those temples (usually refilling our Life/Magic meters) and/or reuniting the “fragments” of those Goddesses (normally giving us some kind of device or tool to ease the game). Then, we have Sheik, who is similar to a ninja that appears and disappears through the games, being there always for the sake of helping Link. Sheik do only appear in certain, very specific situations that could be “overwhelming” for Link at the point he is and provides the key help he just needs to overcome that given situation. This character is very special, and tends to be described as “a persona”: Sheik seems to be a man but, lately, we discover “him” to be Princess Zelda, who took that form in order to escape from some eyes (Evil, dark eyes, mainly from Ganondorf) and help Link through the story. So, in a way, our General Guide, who isn’t directly involved in the choices of the hero, chooses to have a second appearance, a second face, a second “persona”, to get more involved and to have a significative influence in the development of the game. And here is why Sheik is, as the Goddesses, a Subtle Guide: because she uses a double game to imply herself in the story, creating an unknown character to help Link (and us), not being there the whole time but helping us in any possible form.
Link is the hero of these games and we, through him, must save Hyrule and its inhabitants, protecting them from the Evil of the Darkness. But Link, as every hero in the History of Literature, he CAN’T do it all by himself. He NEEDS help, a guidance from another person (or people) who has different tools, points of view and powers in order to join forces and defeat that Darkness. Those helpers are every women portrayed in the games as strong, determined and resourceful within the games, who are as capable as Link alone could be as hero. Those helpers give depth to the story, force us, as players, to look for capabilities on other characters, forces us interact with the world and rely every single of our steps on that surrounding world, full of guides, that is the game. Those are the key elements of any proper, well defined and strutured story, found in any book or videogame or movie out there.
PS: If you want to create something great, allow people to help you 🙂