Table of Contents
- The Great Question
- The First Seeds of History: The Adventure of Link
- Origin of Light: The Triforce of the Gods
- Origin of Darkness: The Evil King
- Setting the Stage: The Imprisoning War
- Links to the Past
- The Fruits: Legacy
For ages, humankind has been obsessed with looking backwards. Scientists exhume ancient evidence pertaining to our origins; historians pore over texts and images created by our ancestors; linguistic scholars toil endlessly to trace the development of language – all with the singular purpose of understanding where we come from. Aside perhaps from its close cousin – the question of the purpose of existence – this is perhaps the most fundamental of all human wonderings.
The world of Hyrule is no different. There, too, the citizens hold their origins dear: “To tell the history of Hyrule, the stage for The Legend of Zelda, one must come to know the myth of the Triforce.” The legendary story of A Link to the Past delves deeply into the matters of ancient history and the importance of keeping the memory of the past alive.
In truth, however, a few years before A Link to the Past ever existed, Zelda II had already touched somewhat on ancient events predating the present action. In that game, the story centered primarily around the Triforce of Courage, which had been hidden generations before in order to protect it from evil. Flash forward to the present, where a strange magic crest appears on Link’s hand. Afraid of what this sign might mean, the hero consults Impa, Zelda’s nursemaid, as to the nature of the crest.
As it turns out, Impa knows a bit of its history, and so she shows him the chamber of the Sleeping Princess and imparts to him the legend of Zelda, the story of how the princess came to be asleep and the very first origin tale in the series:
It is said that long ago, when Hyrule was one country, a great ruler maintained the peace in Hyrule using the Triforce. However, the king too was a child of man and he died. Then, the prince of the kingdom should have become king and inherited everything, but he could inherit the Triforce only in part.
The Prince searched everywhere for the missing parts, but could not find them. Then, a magician close to the king brought him some unexpected news. Before he died, the king had said something about the Triforce to only the younger sister of the prince, Princess Zelda. The prince immediately questioned the princess, but she wouldn’t tell him anything. After the prince, the magician threatened to put the princess into an eternal sleep if she did not talk, but even still, she said nothing.
In his anger, the magician tried to cast a spell on the princess. The surprised prince tried to stop him, but the magician fought off the prince and went on chanting the spell. Then, when the spell was finally cast, Princess Zelda fell on that spot and entered a sleep from which she might never awake. At the same time, the magician also fell down and breathed his last.
In his grief, the prince placed the princess in this room. He hoped that someday she would come back to life. So that this tragedy would never be forgotten, he ordered every female child born into the royal household shall be given the name Zelda.
Though this tale is from generations prior to Link’s time, it relates back to the present action, for Link’s crest is intimately related to the Sleeping Princess. These ancient events also frame another of the main problems facing Link – the Sleeping Princess has still not awakened.
We can think of the sleeping Zelda as a stand-in for the nobility of her royal line, with her brother the Prince as a character foil, representing the greed that would lead one to try to forcibly obtain the Triforce. The Triforce itself is, of course, a symbol of the kingdom, and as such the sleeping Zelda’s stalwart refusal to betray the other parts demonstrates her unrelenting defense of Hyrule. For his part, the Prince serves as a reminder that anyone can succumb to a lust for power, and the magician is an example of the tragic consequences that may arise in such moments of weakness.
With the Triforce lost and Zelda, the symbol of the good people of Hyrule, having fallen victim to the magician’s curse, the kingdom enters an Age of Chaos that has remained unbroken until the present era. Though the Zelda name remains, it does so only as a memory, a shadow of the original princess’s goodness. But through that memory comes the possibility of renewal. And indeed, now that Link the crest-bearer has appeared there is a glimmer of hope for the future:
Not everybody can use the Triforce. It requires a strong character with no evil thoughts. But an inborn special quality is also necessary. Unfortunately, I have not found such a person during my lifetime.
Therefore, I have decided to cast a spell on all of Hyrule. A crest will appear on a young man with that character who has been brought up correctly, has gained many kinds of experiences and reached a certain age. But, what will happen if someone else uses the Triforce before then? If it is misused, it will produce many evils.
Please, Link. Unite the Triforce and save the princess. And bring back peace to Hyrule.
Link’s crest, which takes on the same shape as the golden triangle, represents that innermost strength, the potential to unite and wield the Triforce – the power to rule. While the Prince’s greed led to chaos and catastrophe, Link’s purity of heart is suitable to the task of awakening the sleeping Zelda and in so doing restoring peace and just rule to the land. In this sense, The Adventure of Link brings these events full-circle. The cycle teaches us that faithful stewardship of what has been entrusted to us, not greedy longing for what was not, is the key to maintaining harmony within ourselves and with one another.
It is this cyclical style of storytelling that gives way to A Link to the Past, which brings this same concept even further into the forefront.
A note to readers:
Before I delve into the dense instruction manual text, let it be known that I have taken a few liberties and made “corrections” to portions of the official English translation. This is not to undermine their accuracy or their official status, but rather to extract the core meaning of the text as it is derived from its original source by weeding out extraneous filler information. I have also reconciled some pieces of the text based on our current understanding of the players involved – for example, where the original English translation says “gods” I write “goddesses.”
There is one particular case where I must admit that the English version has fatally erred, and that is in the Master Sword origin story. In the official English text, the story poses that the Master Sword was created in response to Ganon’s evil; the actual original says that the sword was forged in anticipation of such evil. The text is corrected accordingly.
I could go on to elaborate on other instances of creative license, but that would not suit our purpose. For those of you who might be curious, I intend to create my own translation of this text in order to illuminate things that may not be as clear from the official English version due to language difficulties that cause possible asymmetry in conveying the original meaning. Again, I make no claim that this method of retranslation is meant to or should be in any way considered official; rather, it is a means of holistically interpreting the text.
If you look at the ancient writings of most real-world cultures, it seems as though they all have their own version of the creation myth. In reality, though, most of them fit into a few distinct categories, from the infamous Abrahamic seven-day Genesis story, which has God create the universe out of nothingness or chaos, to the diver-myths of the Iroquois and Japan which depict deities bringing up land from an endless sea.
Though their basis in reality is sometimes called to question, one aspect of creation myths that isn’t up for debate is their significance to society. For Judeo-Christian religions, the creation of Light from the endless Darkness of the void assures its adherents of the inherent goodness of all things, even in the face of worldly and supernatural evils, and sows the seeds for God’s relationship with creation. The Japanese myth, which involves the gods unwittingly bringing up specks of land from beneath the ocean that would eventually become the islands of Japan, proposes a spiritual history behind the divine ruling power of the Japanese imperial family.
As for Hyrule’s origin story, it serves three primary purposes. Firstly, it explains how the world of Hyrule came to be:
In the times long past, before man first emerged, the mythical goddesses descended to the world and created order and life. The Goddess of Power dyed the mountains red with fire and created land. The Goddess of Wisdom created science and magic and brought order to nature. And the Goddess of Courage, through stalwart grace, created life – the animals that crawl the land and the birds that soar in the sky.
Whereas previously it was just like any other medieval kingdom, now the land of Hyrule is given its own pantheon of deities who are responsible for the creation of the entire world. The implication, of course, is that Hyrule, as the source of these stories, has some divine significance within its fictional universe.
And, indeed, that significance is centered around the mystical Triforce:
After the gods had finished their work, they left the world, but not before creating a symbol of their strength, a golden triangle known as the Triforce. This mighty artifact was forged with the essence of the gods, and was to guide the world of Hyrule.
The Triforce had the power to bestow three titles which gave the person who received them great powers: “Ruler of Power”, “Arbiter of Wisdom”, and “Champion of Courage”. From its hiding place in the so-called Golden Land where the Gods placed it, the Triforce awaited the appearance of someone worthy of these titles.
We see another inflation here, this time of the Triforce’s significance. Whereas before it was simply an object that bestowed great magical powers and signified the qualities necessary to rule, now the Triforce seems to have attained a similar status to the gods themselves with its responsibility of guiding all life in this world. Note also the reference to worthiness of the Triforce, clearly adapted beyond Zelda II‘s original concept, and that Hyrule is compared to the entire world, just as the boundaries of the Roman Empire were considered the full scope of the planet in the early A.D. years.
The titles of the gods seem to imply their supremacy in the areas of the particular virtues that they represent – also the virtues attributed to the three triangles that make up the complete artifact – and thus emphasize the close relationship between the Triforce and the gods. The Triforce’s special relationship to Hyrule ties the kingdom itself foremost to the gods among all the nations of the world.
This documentation was written by the race of Hylia, the chosen people capable of hearing the voices of the gods. For that reason, the Hylian people were endowed with psychic powers and skill in wizardry. It was also said that their long, pointed ears enabled them to hear special messages from the gods, so they were held in high esteem by many people in Hyrule. Their descendants settled in various parts of the world and passed on their knowledge and magical lore to all people.
The Hylians, the people responsible for writing the stories, are the chosen people of the divine, and it’s implied that they created these accounts from the words of the gods themselves. In much the same way that most religious texts are believed to have been inspired by God, who works through the writers, this story seems to establish the author’s word as absolute.
Though it does not come into play until later in the story, we cannot forget one of the keys that confirms the Hylians’ connection to the gods:
The Triforce cannot judge between good and evil; only the gods can do that. However, it could not be assumed that only a good person would use the Triforce. Therefore, a divine oracle told the people of Hyrule to forge a sword which could repulse any evil powers that might seize the Triforce. This mighty weapon became known as the blade of evil’s bane, or the Master Sword. It was said that only one who was a true hero could wield it.
Here the gods obviously and intentionally ally themselves with Hyrule by commanding the creation of the Master Sword, the tool that will defeat evil. If there was any doubt in our minds as to the gods’ intent, this moment of intervention certifies their inclination towards the good.
One might also note the distinction between the Triforce and its creators – that it cannot judge good and evil like the gods can. This further underlines what I discussed earlier about the Triforce being a symbol of both Hyrule as an entity in need of defending and as the power to rule, which we of course know can be used for good or ill. With our idea that Hyrule is equated with the entire world in mind, this should tell us the gravity of what is at stake.
Why is all of this important to our understanding of the story’s theme? Even though the original stories already carried global implications – “the world was in an Age of Chaos” – now the powers of divinity come into play. Hyrule and the Triforce situate themselves as the cornerstones of the divine creation in order to emphasize how essential these stories are.
The legends become not merely war tales, but the culmination of the ultimate battle between Good and Evil, with the Hylians and their descendants, as the people “chosen by the gods,” naturally on the side of Good. And, of course, we will see that Link and Zelda, the heroes of the tale, are both descended from Hylian blood.
Thus, the qualities of the “epic” already apparent in the original games progress to exponentially greater levels. By constructing the world of Hyrule through myths similar to real-world ones, the writers emphasize our connection to it, give us something to relate to on a closer level. Combined with a deeper, more involved narrative, it’s not that hard to imagine why the story of A Link to the Past was celebrated in its day, even if you find it underwhelming today.
As common wisdom would have it, any light that shines casts a shadow. The story of the Triforce is no different. After a brief exposition explaining that Hyrule’s original enlightened civilization has declined, leaving behind relics and ruins, we hear of one of the legends of the Triforce that circulated throughout the land:
In a realm beyond sight,
The sky shines gold, not blue.
There, the Triforce’s might
Makes mortal dreams come true.
Anybody notice the real-world parallel? The “realm beyond sight,” obviously the Sacred Realm (often “Golden Land” in A Link to the Past), as an ethereal otherworldly realm, seems to be a Hyrulean version of Eden, while the Triforce, which rests in the center of that world and can grant the wishes of mortals, represents the forbidden fruit. While in the hands of the Hylians this knowledge certainly must have circulated peacefully for centuries, eventually things changed:
The people, seeking the Golden Power, began searching for the Sacred Realm. Some said the Triforce lay under the desert, others said it was in the cemetery in the shadow of Death Mountain, but no one ever found it. That yearning for the Triforce soon turned to lust for power, which in turn led to the spilling of blood. Soon the only motive left among those searching for the Triforce was pure greed. The more carefree people had to live days of disquiet.
Once again, greed for the Triforce comes into play as the motivator of evil deeds. This time, however, the story takes things one step further, depicting multitudes of seemingly-ordinary people all engaging in bloody rivalries in order to be the one to discover the secret location of the golden relic. The Eden parallel thus goes one step further by depicting this symbol of divine power and wisdom as the cause of humanity’s fall.
Even though this trope appeared already in Zelda II, we can see that the more grandiose backstory of A Link to the Past delivers the message in a more impactful way. While the Prince’s greed was taken advantage of by the magician for his sinister ends, here the people themselves are the culprits of the violent atrocities that follow. This story then becomes the people’s history, not the story of one man’s sin but of the sin of an entire race. While certainly there were some who did not participate in the violence, no one is exempt from its effects.
The story doesn’t take a happier turn from there; the author goes on to describe one particular group that participated in the bloodshed:
One day, quite by accident, a gate to the Golden Land of the Triforce was opened by a gang of thieves skilled in the black arts. This land was like no other. In the gathering twilight, the Triforce shone from its resting place high above the world. In a long running battle, the leader of the thieves fought his way past his followers in a lust for the Golden Power. After vanquishing his own followers, the leader stood triumphant over the Triforce and grasped it with his blood-stained hands.
He heard a whispered voice: “If thou hast a desire, then I shall desire it as well.”
In reply, the roaring laughter of the brigand leader echoed across time and space and even reached the far-off land of Hyrule. The man’s name was Ganondorf, but he was known by his alias, the demon thief Ganon. Indeed, Ganon the Evil King, the one who has threatened Hyrule, was born at this time.
Interesting indeed that even though Ganon is the primary antagonist of the series, according to the story he is not the originator of evil – at least in the sense that he is not the cause of human vices. That he rises from the twisted conflicts over the Golden Land places him in sharp contrast to the creator-goddesses, who created light rather than having been created by it. Ganon seems to be tragically set up by the writer to fail in his attempt to seize the Triforce – and with it Hyrule and all Creation – due to his unequal status compared to the gods.
We might also note that here the shedding of blood is specifically depicted as treacherous, with the leader turning on his followers, and apparently the followers turning on each other and the leader as well. In the description of the other violence wracking Hyrule, all that we know is that people were vying for power. This could have been and probably was in part through betrayal, but the scenario is more open-ended and likely also includes blatant competing interests on a national scale. We get the idea from this passage’s more direct approach that Ganondorf is especially ruthless, enough that he rises above the rest and goes on to claim the Triforce.
To further establish the depth of Ganondorf’s evil, we see that he “grasped [the Triforce] with his blood-stained hands.” It seems like a sort of defaming, blasphemous image, doesn’t it? Because the Triforce represents the qualities of worthiness, we should think that the one to gain the Triforce should come before it as an exemplar of that worth.
Link accomplishes this in Adventure of Link by defeating many guardians, the last of which is his own shadow. Ganondorf vanquishing his own followers is an antithesis to Link’s comparably righteous trial. We can certainly say that Ganondorf in a sense “proved himself” and thereby “earned” the Triforce – but it is a perversion of what it truly takes to master the relic’s power.
We can therefore think of Ganon as the quintessential epic villain. Despite immense and terrible power, he is no god; therefore, even though he is in opposition to the gods he is not the opposite of the gods. He is rather the opposite of the hero – a degenerated mirror of the protagonist. He is very human, and thus more relevant to us than a pure devil figure.
While these qualities bring A Link to the Past deeper into the fold of the epic narrative than its predecessors, the great confrontation that follows and its relationship to the internal events of the story complete the circle.
With the pieces of our Narrative Chessboard in place, now we can dive into the heart of A Link to the Past. It seems that throughout the entire story, the characters constantly make reference to the battle against evil in which the seven sages sealed the Dark World away. In the most literal sense, we know that this is because the ancient villain that they thought forever trapped has begun to break free of his bonds. Examining this scenario through our newfound literary perspective, though, we see that it is more about fulfilling the greater struggle between Good and Evil.
In time, evil power began to flow into Hyrule, and greedy men were drawn and consumed by it. Black clouds permanently darkened the sky, and many disasters beset Hyrule. The lord of Hyrule sent for the seven sages and the Knights of Hyrule in order to seal the entrance to the Golden Land.
As the seven sages searched for a valiant person to take up the Master Sword, Ganon’s evil spread towards the castle. With all their power, the sages and knights waged war with the evil one. The knights took the brunt of the fierce attack, and although they fought courageously many a brave soul was lost that day. However, their lives were not lost in vain, for the sages completed their seal.
All of Hyrule rejoiced at the victory that upheld peace and order over Ganon’s evil and chaos. This war, which had claimed many lives, became known as the Imprisoning War in stories passed down to future generations.
We see here the first hints of the Sacred Realm’s transformation into the Dark World, a reflection of Ganon’s evil and a grim foreshadowing of what might befall Hyrule. We see something else too; that Ganon as the height of all darkness is in the process of consuming all evil. The “greedy men” who are drawn to his dark powers are implied to be the same lustful individuals who were involved with the bloody rivalries over the Sacred Realm. They are the first great example A Link to the Past gives us of an element from the mythical history recurring again in more recent events.
The three forms of evil that threaten Hyrule in this passage represent the vile corruption of the three virtues of the Triforce: Ganon’s own lust for power; the fear spawned by the consuming darkness; and the abandonment of reason on the part of the corrupted men. The Light World fittingly responds with a triumvirate of their own: the king of Hyrule, representing Power; the knights, who embody Courage; and of course the sages who are exceedingly wise. The Imprisoning War truly is a battle over who will control the Triforce, both in fact and in spirit.
But, strangely, just as the backstory of Zelda II did not fully resolve its own quarrel – the Triforce remains divided, waiting for a worthy person to claim it – the Imprisoning War is not the end of Ganon’s threat against Hyrule. A hero to wield the Master Sword does not appear in time to stop the attack on the kingdom, and rather than destroying Ganon outright, the sages are only able to seal him away. This only-temporary ending to the story allows for A Link to the Past‘s theme of legacy – of the tales of old being essential to understanding and confronting present evils – to come to fruition.
It is the internal narrative of A Link to the Past that perfects the idea of the cyclical nature of the conflict between good and evil in Hyrule as a stage for an equally universal moral lesson. Centuries after the seal is cast, strange occurrences begin to befall the kingdom – culminating in the appearance of Agahnim, a priest-magician who deposes the king and seizes power. As maidens throughout the land disappear one by one, a young boy named Link discovers a plot to break the sages’ seal and set Ganon free. We all know the story – but what is it trying to tell us?
The chief element that endures from the Imprisoning War all the way to the contemporary period of A Link to the Past is, of course, the imprisoning seal itself. As a story element, the seal exists as a barrier of absolutes that separates the Dark from the Light in their own worlds in the pockets of the universe. Later Zelda stories, chiefly Four Swords Adventures and Twilight Princess reiterate this dichotomy. The underlying message is naturally that evil and good should not coexist; the result is chaos and destruction.
But the seal is not only a physical barrier, separating the two worlds, and a moral barrier, separating good from evil. There are further implications that begin to frame the story’s message:
If he releases the seal of the seven sages, a wave of evil power will be unleashed…
– Princess Zelda
Taken at face value, these words from Zelda don’t seem to suggest much; if Ganon is able to break his bonds, the world will inevitably be in danger once again. Looking a little deeper, though, we realize something about the attitude Hyrule has towards the seal – they do not see the power trapped within as a threat so long as the seal remains intact.
Recall our discussion about Ganon’s origins, where we concluded that Ganondorf represents the darkest of human evils. The efforts to simply bar away Ganon rather than destroying him thus translates to a similar attitude towards evil in general. That the seal is deemed central to peace in the land shows us that the Hyrulians believe that leaving the troubles caused by Ganon behind them is the key to a happy future.
For our part, we can see the centuries-old seal and the evil it keeps at bay as a symbol for the typical human effort to deny difficult moments of our past as a coping mechanism. Thus the seal is a temporal one as well as a physical one.
Through Agahnim’s appearance and the gradual erosion of the seal, however, we see that this means of dealing with the past is not wholly sufficient. Ganon still possesses great power, even when confined to the Dark World, and Agahnim himself turns out to be an extension of Ganon’s influence into Hyrule that seeks to continue the cycle of darkness. Despite their best efforts, the sages did not succeed at getting rid of evil by blocking it out of Hyrule.
By contrast, the right and true way to deal with the demons of our history is to face them head-on:
To restore the Golden Land, a person worthy of the Golden Power must defeat the man who created this place…
– Dark World Tree
If a person with an evil heart gets the Triforce, a Hero is destined to appear…and he alone must face the person who unleashed the Great Cataclysm.
– Skull Woods Maiden
Again we encounter the famous trope of the legendary hero being the only one capable of mastering the powers necessary to bring peace. I have already spoken at length on the role of the hero in both this article and the previous installment of Themes in Motion, so I won’t bother beating a dead horse here, and instead elaborate on what makes A Link to the Past‘s hero unique.
The Hero’s triumph on Cataclysm’s Eve
Wins three symbols of virtue.
The Master Sword he then retrieves
Keeping the Knight’s line true.
– Sacred Grove Pedestal Inscription
Yes, it is the Master Sword that fully defines Link as the legendary hero this time around. But why? Looking back on the manual description of the sword’s creation, recall that it was forged in response to a warning from the gods of the coming of evil. Link’s pursuit of it is a fulfillment of that warning, and a lesson to us that we should take heed of the past, not attempt to keep it contained. In a similar way, the Master Sword itself seems to be the antidote to the problem of dealing with the past. Its evil-vanquishing power is a large step up from the evil-containing qualities of the seal.
This idea of ‘vanquishing versus containing’ plays out in a number of ways throughout the story. First among them involves the primary seal itself. Contrary to Zelda’s belief, when the seal is broken, the world is not instantly covered in darkness. In fact, the portals formed from the fragmentation of the seal prove useful in helping Link break into the Dark World to battle Ganon. Link crashes through the barriers of the past in order to combat what remains, even centuries later, a threat against tranquility.
As another example, when Ganon attempts to put an end to the maiden-descendants of the sages by trapping them in magic crystals, Link sets out to free them. And there are many other barriers: the seal blocking off the upper levels of Hyrule Castle, the entrances to the Desert Palace, Misery Mire, and Turtle Rock, and of course the magic wall protecting Ganon’s Tower. Even though most of them don’t have an explicit connection to past events, the repetition of seal imagery is clear and deliberate.
It’s important to remember that dealing with the past is more than just the destruction of those barriers – for the legend of the Great Cataclysm also tells us of what will happen if the evil in the seals is loosed:
If the evil one destroys the Hero, nothing can save the world from his wicked reign.
– Skull Woods Maiden
Surrender is not an option; conquering the past is a matter of victory in what promises to be a bitter struggle. It is an endeavor that involves great risk, one in which failure could potentially destroy everything. We can see why Zelda was so afraid of the seal being broken! But we also see that confronting Ganon – confronting the darker side of human nature – is essential nonetheless.
The trope of cycles begun in Adventure of Link manifests itself in a more extreme way this time around. While Link resolves an ancient and unsolved issue from generations before in A Link to the Past also, we also see the formulaic repetition of roles and events play into the story. Obviously there’s the recurring threat posed by Ganon and the Dark World, the same driving disaster behind both the Imprisoning War and A Link to the Past – but there’s also the characters themselves.
We hear of people who even centuries after the seal are still disappearing in their searches for the Golden Land. Ever since the initial conflicts over the Triforce came into the story, it seems that this has been a constant backdrop – yet another example of how the seal did not fully resolve the heart of the problems plaguing Hyrule. Indeed, greedy persons will continue to exist throughout Hyrule’s history – just as they do in reality.
Zelda and the maidens are recurring characters as well, and in an even more direct way:
You must also rescue the seven maidens who Agahnim sent to the Dark World. As members of the blood-line of the seven sages, they have power that will surely help you.
Similarly, Link is from the bloodline of the knights who fought against the monsters pouring from the dark portal:
As the sages sealed the way to the Dark World, the Knights of Hyrule defended them from the attacks of evil monsters. I heard that the Knights were nearly wiped out in that battle… You are perhaps the last one to carry on the blood-line of the Knights… It is ironic that the last one in the line has the potential to become the Hero of legend.
– Village Maiden
Of course, we also see that both Link and the maidens are destined to take up the roles of their ancestors in battling evil. When the maidens free themselves of their barriers, quite literally, and step into the battle between Light and Darkness, the tide begins to turn. Even though time has worn down the power of the sages’ bloodline, it is through embracing their inherited destiny and the power of the Master Sword that the maidens can regain their lost abilities:
They say the Hylian people mastered mysterious powers, as did the seven sages. But the blood of the Hylia has grown thin over time. And we who carry the blood of the sages do not possess our ancestors’ powers, either. But our power will increase if we mix the courage of the knights with the wisdom of the sages!
– Ice Maiden
After the seals of the past dissolve, after the hero appears with the evil-banishing sword, after the maidens join with him to confront the evil that has lain dormant for so many centuries, the light of peace returns to the land. Ganon is finally defeated, not merely cast aside and forgotten, and the Triforce, that symbol of Hyrule’s glory, is recovered and put into the hands of Good. As a visible image of how final the victory is, the Triforce returns the once-twisted Sacred Realm to its original pristine state.
This is the lesson of A Link to the Past: that the legacies left to us by our ancestors – our “links to the past” – are a part of us that we cannot deny, that we cannot simply leave “in the past.” We must always be willing to face our demons, and not only our own but those of the collective human race, in order to truly move on from them. We must embrace the lessons of time and take up the mantle of justice – true and definitive justice – in order to recognize and combat the recurring evils of this world.
By more carefully framing the story as a representation of the ultimate battle between Good and Evil, A Link to the Past invites us to participate in the struggle as more than just a player-spectator. We are called upon to become the heroes who will battle and destroy evil.
And so I lead you with those timeless words, the deeper meaning of which I hope I have successfully illuminated:
May the way of the Hero lead to the Triforce.
Themes in Motion is a regular article series that plans to cover the major story themes of every game in the Zelda series. As you read, please consider your own reactions to the games’ stories and feel free to reply in the comment sections with any thoughts you may have that differ from or go beyond what is explained in the article. Entries in the series will release every other Tuesday, each covering a different theme (i.e., expect the next installment on November 9).