Girl in the Machine
Monday, July 2, 2007
Power, Wisdom, and Courage

Ocarina of Time truly is a very female-oriented game. Not only have the seven wise men from A Link to the Past been turned into the seven sages -- five of whom are women -- we have the reintroduction of Nursemaid Turned Sheikah Warrior Impa, a more active role for the titular Princess Zelda, and the formal appearance of Hyrule's three creation goddesses.

Din, Nayru, and Farore: the three goddesses who not only formed Hyrule out of chaos but also fashioned the Triforce, a physical manifestation of their power. According to the Great Deku Tree, the goddesses descended upon the chaos that was Hyrule and reshaped it according to their specific strengths: Din, goddess of power, shaped and cultivated the terrain with "great flaming arms"; Farore, goddess of courage, created all life with her "rich soul"; and Nayru used her wisdom to grant the "spirit of law" upon the world.

The three goddesses of Hyrule are a particularly interesting part of the Legend of Zelda cosmology because of their very sex. It is (unfortunately) less common to see a religion, fictional or practiced, headed by women, and rarer still for female divinities to take on the world-creation process without the (usually sexual) aid of male counterparts. And while the ability of women to give birth, and the significance of such a thing, is most definitely nothing to be sneezed at, it's still quite refreshing to see female deities undergo the process of creation without their wombs being a sole requirement.

I salute the Zelda team for avoiding the obvious traps when characterizing Hyrule's creator-gods. Think of how easy it would have been for Nayru to take the form of a wise old grandmother, Farore a fertile young mother-figure, or Din a raging, fiery muscle man. Instead of these oft-seen stereotypes, we have the three golden goddesses whose personal strengths perfectly compliment one another in a universal trifecta of power, wisdom, and courage.

And the goddesses' personal realms are indeed universal. We have Din's domain over red earth and fire, Farore's of green forests and life, and Naryu's of blue oceans and time. While it is definitely legitimate to call the three goddesses mothers, their scope is not limited to creation itself: their influence percolates throughout everything, from the coveted Triforce in the Sacred Realm to the order of every living thing in Hyrule. In this way, instead of being potentially walled in by their sex, the goddesses draw power from breaking down the hard-and-fast "male is default" rule that we see so often in video games.

And this is something that Ocarina of Time does so well. Though our plucky hero and dastardly villain are both male, we need not forget the scores of other mostly-female characters, without which Link may never have succeeded. How far would he have gotten without Saria, Zelda, or the frighteningly enthusiastic Great Fairies, anyway?

(Thanks to the Zelda Wiki for the images.)

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 Posted by BomberGirl
 12:57 PM + Link to this post

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