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Grace DoubleNegative

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare. -Mark Twain

The Eternal Legend

Though the series carries Zelda's name, she is not the main character. She is, however, one of the most important NPCs of all time, as she is reoccuring in all major Zelda games. Indeed, to me it seems silly to have a Zelda game without her. (But then again, a game called Final Fantasy has had a lot of sequels.) Who is Zelda then?

She is the damsel in distress, that denizen of the highest tower, forever being chained by some incarnation of evil or the mere threat of it. In the Zelda series, the player always controls Link, an elven lad who has a tendency to borrow from Peter Pan's closet. Zelda would seem to be the stereotypical videogame princess, Peach reincarnated. The goal of the Zelda series has always been to rescue Zelda, the Princess of Hyrule, a mythical land which, per the disturbing trend of mythical lands, is always facing some crisis or another.

But if it were that simple, why isn't the game called Legend of Link? Because, quite simply, it isn't that simple. A game like Zelda did not achieve longevity by simply repeating what has already been done. It takes an existing stereotype and twists it, at once making the story more and less real. There is a dimension to Ocarina of Time that was not found in the previous games: it actually had the aura of a legend about it.

I would argue that though Zelda is not a playable character, she is, nevertheless, the game's heroine, for she is not just a princess to be saved. She is the wisest in the land, the most good, the most just, the most pure. Most princesses, though lovely, do not really demand rescuing, but Zelda- without her Hyrule would crumble. She is not defenseless, but is able to survive by her wits and magic, she is not quite in what I would term distress, as she seems to posess a cool and elegant sort of dignity. She cuts an elegant profile, and her beauty is more the fine sculpting of a Greek goddess than the frills of a fairy-tale princess.

The game is rightfully called The Legend of Zelda because it is Zelda who creates the legend. Link is a wonderful soldier, he is brave and able, but Zelda is the leader. It is Zelda who guides him along his hero's journey, with and without his knowledge, it was Zelda's plot in the first place. Link can, literally, not refuse her (believe me, I've tried) her destiny is behind both his triumph and his tragedy. Zelda admits that the crisis that befall Hyrule are partly her doing. And as Link rescues Zelda, she both damns and saves him, as a young woman of pure intention and great power.