Character Spotlight: Link

I almost didn’t write this post, do you know why?  Because of all the characters, Link is supposedly the most undefined, undialogedLink_(Super_Smash_Bros._Brawl)character of the entire Zelda series.  Who would interfere with the Hero of Time, greatest hero of Hyrule?

But then I started thinking of Link not as the Hero of Time, but as a character.  Why is he always left-handed?   Why has he always had an ear for music?  With the creation of these questions and more, a post was born.  I will answer these questions and more to my best ability, so hold onto your Master Swords everyone.

So, before I get into the more interesting questions, I would like to make one thing perfectly clear…

Link Re-Incarnates.

This single thought will be very helpful to keep in mind as we venture deep into the design of our hero.  Okay, so for all that Link does change throughout the series, some key things have yet to change:

  • He is left-handed.
  • His appearance, while changing, remains basically the same.
  • He has always had a strong connection with the Triforce, be it a connection with it as a whole, or only the Triforce of Courage.
  • He remains marked by the Golden Goddesses as the “Chosen Hero”.
  • He has always had humble beginnings.

So, why is it that these things never change?  Well, as far as numbers two and four, the reasons are fairly obvious.  If Link wasn’t the Chosen Hero, he wouldn’t be the star of the game (unless The Legend of Zelda took a very dark and horrific turn), and his appearance has stayed similar for the same reason Mario has yet to change, if he looked different, he wouldn’t be recognized as himself.  (Interesting fact: the latest Zelda game, ZeldaU (name so far) has so far featured Link not wearing his iconic tunic and hat.)

 So the first question I want to tackle is:

Why has Link remained a commoner?

Throughout the series Link has often remained a farmer, or a blacksmith, or just a plain villager.  Why?  Link could be anything, he could be a prince, a head guard, anything.  (He actually is the son of a knight in the Ocarina of Time manga.)  But I think the reason Link has remained a commoner in The Legend of Zelda is because of who he is as a person morally.  Link has remained loving, kind, generous, courageous, and heroic because of who he is as a person, and most commonly people’s personalities develop because of the environment they find themselves in.  As a commoner Link grows up around kind, helpful people who help him learn that when someone is in need you help them.

Now our next question:

Why is Link left-handed?

It is most common for people to be right-handed.  In fact, only about ten percent of the world is left-handed, so why is our hero?  The 002i2sruconclusion I came to is this: it’s intended to make him stand out.  As a person, he is set aside from the rest of society because of his left-handedness.

Why has music played a part in his role?

Grant it, music has not played a role in every game, but it certainly has in a great deal, just look at Ocarina of Time.  So the question is now, why?  In thinking on this, I thought of something related to music in general, ears.  Mostly, I started think about how Hylians have pointed ears, and the reason why.  Like most of my interesting Zelda Trivia tid-bits, I learned from the manga that the reason that Hylians have pointed ears is to hear the voices of the goddesses who created them.  This brought me back to my dad telling me about the plot of a book.  A man managed to hack a video game that people could physically enter by learning what language was used when God created the world, when words had power.  When he wrote in that language, anything he wrote became true.

I then started thinking, what if the Golden Goddesses’ language was music?  They spoke (or rather, sang) and they brought everything 468px-Skyward_0041into being.  Suppose then, that the musical instruments that have been featured in the games throughout the years where instead artifacts left behind by the goddesses, able to unlock the power of the goddesses’ music, like the password that allows you access to a webpage.  If everything we have just supposed is correct, then of course Link would have a connection to music, it would give him the powers of the Golden Goddesses.

 How do people remember the Hero of Time?

Call me crazy, but lately I’ve been thinking about Ocarina of Time and it’s paradox, mostly about how people might have grown up while Link slept.  But then I also had a totally random thought one day: How could anyone possibly remember the Hero of Time at all?

Think about it, if we are to assume that everything Link did as an adult became null-and-void, allowing him to live a happy life as a child (and we are told it is by Princess Zelda), then Link never truly became the Hero of Time, and no one would know.  So how do people?  Link isn’t very vocal, and he certainly isn’t boastful, so he wouldn’t have gone around telling people “I saved your lives.”

My closest guess would have to be this.  Zelda appears to be the only other one to remember the time jump at all, and so it is most likely it was passed down as a legend of the royal family’s.  It seems the most logical answer, especially since most of the time we encounter the retelling of the hero’s tale either before you actually get to do anything in the game or when we are told it by a member of the royal family (aka, the only member we ever talk to, Zelda) (why do we never see any other member of the royal family anyway?)

 Is Link truly a character?

Yes, I realize this area of the blog is called “Character Spotlight”, but it must be considered whether Link truly is a character, given his role in the game.  As a whole, the question is hard to answer.  Link is designed to be an extension of the player, and so if he is character, he’s a very… well, the best word for it is empty.  As a character, he is empty of much story, profile, or dialog for that matter.  I personally think the best answer for the question would be: both.  Link neither is, nor is not a character.  If Link truly is a link between the player and the game, and the player then imagines themselves AS Link, as a character, then yes, he is a character.  But should the player choose not to believe themselves to be a character to the game, and only as an outside observer?  Then no.

Wow, I guess it was a good idea to write this post.  I had a blast thinking about and writing down who Link is a person.  I look forward to further speculations on a series of video-game characters in the future, but until then, goodbye!