Posted on November 19 2023 by Josh Wittmershaus
Wisdom. Power. Courage. These are the characteristics that make up the Triforce. There’s something about the number three that feels fitting and complete, as we see the number used in all sorts of cultural, religious, and other psychological and sociological contexts. It’s a pattern in humanity, and like many other universal themes and symbolisms, we see these patterns in Zelda games. This phenomenon plays a huge role in raising a serious question about the Hylian Shield from Ocarina of Time.
As we can see in the lower part of the shield, pointing down is a yellow triangle, identical in size to the segments of the Triforce above and capable of fitting neatly into the empty space between the three triangles. This fourth piece isn’t found on every Hylian Shield, so it raises the question of where it might have gone. This however can be chalked up to simple aesthetic preference — or can it? Given that there is rarely something symbolic-looking in a Zelda game that doesn’t have a deeper symbolism, what does this fourth piece mean? Why is it pointing down, far below the Triforce, and not placed perfectly in the center?
In an attempt to answer these questions, video game philosopher and content creator Max Derrat has recently uploaded a video on the topic of the “Tetraforce.” In the video, Derrat explains that this fourth piece is frequently utilized in religion to designate something opposing the trinity, but also providing an opportunity to complete it.
What I love about these videos from Derrat is that he’s very new to Zelda lore and theory, as this is only the second video he’s made, the first being on the elements of Buddhism found in Majora’s Mask. Derrat points to a second instance of the presence of an upside triangle in relationship to an opposing trilogy, this one a little more obscurely placed in the Shadow Medallion, also from Ocarina of Time.
So, what does this all represent, especially given that we don’t see these symbols in any other games? (Maybe you can find one, though!)
Derrat makes an interesting proposition: Jungian psychoanalytics. Carl Jung is a 20th century philosopher and psychologist who worked under Sigmund Freud and continued his work on analyzing symbolism in the world and how it connects to the human condition. Derrat admits that this is a stretch, but then goes on to make several strong cases on how the essence of numbers, the psychology behind trinities and quaternities, and their relationships.
The one that resonated with me the most was the idea that this fourth element represents the chaos in the world that is acted upon by Din, Nayru, and Farore, who represent elements of order. This chaotic element is traditionally identified in Zelda as Demise or Ganon. I highly recommend that you watch the video to see the rest of the connections Derrat makes, as it all falls into place quite surprisingly.
What did you think of the video? What theories do you have about this fourth piece? Comment below!
Source: Max Derrat
Josh Wittmershaus is a writer at Zelda Dungeon. Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, he now resides in Northern California. Aside from Zelda, Josh enjoys playing music, seeing live music, music history, and all other things music. He also enjoys skating, hockey, and the occasional political or philosophical thought exercise.