(This Post Contains Spoilers from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)
I remember the first time I heard about The Legend of Zelda. Since I had no prior knowledge I just assumed that Zelda was the pint sized hero clad in green and left it at that. It wasn’t until a year or so later that I discovered that wasn’t the case.
Fast forward to present time. After about five years of being a fan of the series I sit back and laugh at my original confusion. I guess it’s understandable because of Link’s somewhat androgynous design but I think the majority of it stems from the title. Why would they name the series after the damsel in distress that gets kidnapped every time? Why not call it The Legend of Link? He is after all the great hero who saves the day time after time. What makes Zelda so special?
At the beginning of “The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia” Miyamoto explains his reasoning behind both Zelda and Link names. According to Miyamoto, when they were coming up with the title they were stumped. They knew they wanted it to be the Legend of something but didn’t know what, or even who. After thinking about it for a while, they decided to center the legend around an eternally beautiful girl. They decided to name her after Zelda, the wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Link’s name on the other hand is more of a symbol than a name. Miyamoto says that the reason he is named Link is because he links people together. This fits nicely with the idea that the player gets to choose the name of their own Link at the beginning of each game. This makes it easier for the player to project themselves onto Link. This reason alone is a pretty good reason for why the series isn’t named The Legend of Link. Since Link is just a projection of ourselves, and doesn’t even keep the name Link, it wouldn’t make sense to name the games after him.
So, back to the original question. Why Zelda? Up until the release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the reasoning behind this seemed to come from The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Though this game is a direct sequel to the first one, it tells the tale or legend if you will, of Zelda I. In this story line, Zelda’s father secretly chose Zelda over her brother as his successor. Out of jealousy, her sibling cursed her into an eternal sleep. Grief stricken, he put the sleeping princess in a room in a tower and declared that all future princesses would bear her name. This explains why each princess throughout the history of Hyrule is named Zelda.
The name makes sense as long as the legend of Zelda I is being told. However, this seems to get lost in the shuffle somewhere down the line. This is where the title falls apart for me. For a while it seemed like the series remained The Legend of Zelda because it was convenient and was already an established success. Though Zelda appeared in most of the games, it was hard to connect all of the ancestors together. Luckily the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword came along and tied everything together.
Skyward Sword serves as a much needed prequel to the entire series. In this game, Zelda isn’t a princess but the daughter of the headmaster of the Knight Academy and close friend to Link. It is revealed later on that she is actually the reincarnation of the goddess Hylia. At the beginning of the game we learn of an ancient battle that took place. After creating the world, the three goddesses Din, Nayru, and Farore left behind the triforce in the care of the goddess Hylia. Since the triforce could grant both benevolent and evil wishes there was no limit to who could use it.
During Hylia’s reign the Demon King Demise and his demon hoard sought after the triforce to take over the world. After a great battle, Hylia sent the remaining humans into the sky and proceeded to seal Demise away. However, in order to use the triforce Hylia had to lose her divinity and become human.
Eventually she grew old and perished. When the seal began to weaken a girl named Zelda was born. At the same time the demon Demise sent his follower Ghirahim to the surface to search of the reincarnated goddess whom he needed for his resurrection. When the demon lord found Zelda, he swept her away in a tornado and brought her crashing down to the surface. Luckily an old woman who we later find out is Impa tells Zelda of her destiny as the reincarnation of Hylia. She was sent on her own quest to cleanse herself and regain her memories of her time as Hylia.
Zelda was able to make it to the ancient era with Link arriving soon after. She told him that in order to strengthen the seal again, she had to sleep in the sealed temple for thousands of years. When Link arrived back in his own time, he was able to use the triforce to return the statue of the goddess to its former place back on the surface. Zelda eventually woke up but was taken by an angry Ghirahim. He grabbed her and took her back to the past to revive the demon Demise. After a great battle, Link defeated Demise and sealed his evil energy in the Master Sword. Unfortunately Demise’s… well… demise was the beginning of a curse. The Demon King’s hatred for Link and Zelda would live on in a treacherous fate for their descendants.
Zelda (Hylia Reincarnated) stayed on the surface and created the kingdom of Hyrule to protect the triforce. I believe this is the true legend of Zelda. You play your part as Link, which ultimately helps Zelda to succeed in her quest, but it is the legend of Zelda and her bravery that will live on.The events at the end of Skyward sword eternally link the hero and the goddess together forever.
Originally Posted on Randomhavok.com
Gombos, Michael, and Akira Himekawa. The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia
. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse, 2013.