Posted on March 04 2014 by Legacy Staff
Families are important. No matter who you are, or where you come from, it is the influence of a family, or ones who are considered family, that have the most impact upon one’s growth as a human being, be it positive or negative. So, why is it that a series so steeped in the ideas of bloodlines and lineage constantly avoids the glaring issue regarding Link’s parents?
First off, Link’s family has been shown or mentioned in several games down the line, such as The Wind Waker, and A Link to the Past, however, those examples are of other family members, not parents. The only time Link’s parents are even mentioned is in Ocarina of Time. In the game, the newly born Deku Sprout explains to Link that his mother died bringing Link to the safety of the Kokiri Forest as an infant, but the main focus of their conversation is not the fate of his parents, but rather, his Hylian heritage.
Even as the Zelda series became more story-focused, games like Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword impart absolutely no information about the absence of Link’s parents, despite their central themes being bonds between people. In Skyward Sword, it feels unusual for there to be no mention of Link’s parents, since the town of Skyloft is a veritable paradise; it seems unlikely that both his mother and father passed away due to illness or even old age, seeing as how Link is fairly young in the game. This raises the troubling question: why must Link’s parents always be absent?
True enough, Link’s journeys are all about personal growth and courage, and most stories choose to omit parental or familial units because they, in a pure story writing sense, embody a sense of stability and physical and emotional immaturity.
In nearly every Zelda game to date, when Hyrule is thrust into peril by the forces of evil and darkness, Link, the boy with the blood of Heroes and the courage of the Gods, emerges from his simple life to become the savior of the land. However, this raises concerns about his motivations. Namely, Link, despite it being his destiny to be the Hero, has very little personal incentive to become a savior. In terms of how Link’s journey begins, the standout game in the series is definitely The Wind Waker; he doesn’t begin his journey because of any sort of “destined” happenstance, but rather, because his sister is kidnapped. That is his one, single motivation, which keeps him strong and determined throughout his journey, until he is recognized by the Gods as a courageous Hero, worthy of possessing the Triforce of Courage.
Loss, which is also a recurring theme in the Zelda series, could serve the story substantially, such as Link losing his parents during a skirmish with Ganondorf, or perhaps being executed after being falsely branded as traitors to the Royal Family, forcing Link to become a hero in order to save his family’s noble name. The addition of Link’s parents opens up many directions in which the established mythos may mature; just like Link has to become physically mature in order to become the Hero, so too must he go through some form of personal and emotional growth if the series is to have a consistently relevant future, rather than simply being “destined” to be the savior. The idea of destiny carries with it the stigma of omnipotence without humility or tact, meaning that once someone is “destined” to do something, they will not fear failure, for there is only one outcome for all those involved, and that is success of the good, and the downfall of the bad. Introducing Link’s parents into the story could also mean the inclusion of a certain moral grey area, forcing him to make decisions for himself based on his own feelings and insecurities, rather than have his motivations decided entirely by third parties, like the Great Deku Tree, the Goddesses of the Triforce, Midna, or even Princess Zelda.
One could argue that this approach to the narrative is impossible for a series like Zelda, for reasons such as the fact that emotional maturity, arguably, cannot be achieved by a silent protagonist, or that the series is incapable of supporting truly adult themes without masking them with a veneer of silliness and casualness, since the games are meant to be for all ages. Indeed, the main purpose of the Zelda games is to grow as the character, rather than grow with the character, since Link’s existence is to embody the player themselves. Though, with a firm, personal motivation, and a well-established foray into the Hero’s ancestral roots, Link could become more than just a canvas upon which the player paints his own picture. All people understand family: it is a universal concept to mankind. And to acknowledge the ones who gave the Hero of Hyrule life and love, before ultimately falling to the force that their son must fight, would most certainly make a powerful experience, if executed properly. For Link to remain the Hero we see him as, he must grow, and in order to grow, he must have a place to grow from. And to witness him leaving the safety and stability of a loving family, only to be thrust into a catastrophic situation that pushes his power, wisdom, and courage to the very limit, would certainly be more endearing than becoming a man of no flaws or failings that he ultimately becomes when all is said and done. Because family is important, maybe more so than people know. What is your opinion on this matter? Would the addition of Link’s parents bring some much needed depth into the Zelda series, or would it stray too far from the formula?