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The Legend Of Zelda is one of the most well known franchises in the world of gaming. Almost everyone knows about the story of a young boy in green called Link who slays Ganon and saves Princess Zelda. That's the main jest of the game, but Zelda is a lot more than just a damsel-in-distress. Whilst Nintendo's Princess Peach defines the damsel-in-distress model, Princess Zelda breaks the mould as stated on her Wikipedia page.
Many Zelda games adopt the classic princess-and-dragon premise of chivalric literature: Zelda is usually kidnapped or imprisoned by Ganon, prompting Link to come to her rescue. Some games in the series have emphasized Zelda's magical abilities and importance to the functioning of Hyrule, demonstrating that she is more than capable of taking care of herself. In several games, she is one of the Sages or Champions whose heroism is essential to defeating Ganon; in others, she adopts alternative personae in order to take a more active role in her kingdom; and in some, she is a self-sacrificing princess regnant.
But in the Legend of Zelda, it's not just a princess you're saving - you're trying to save the entire kingdom of Hyrule among others. If you haven't played any of the Zelda games, then it's important to know that not all Zeldas in the game are the same, but we see in almost every variant of Princess Zelda that she is capable of defending herself and will help when required.
There are some great discussions and articles on the web about Zelda's role as a damsel in distress, which I will link at the bottom of this article. I have seen Feminist Frequency's account on Princess Zelda and I think it's a shame how she's been victimised.
I think they forgot the time when Zelda sealed Ganon for years. Perhaps Ganon is the true damsel in distress? When I think about it, I don't even know is damsel is an appropriate word to describe Zelda.
So what does this have to do with female empowerment, I hear you say? Well let's take a look at some of Zelda's alter egos. First there is Sheik from Ocarina of Time. A very convincing disguise, some people still can't tell weather Sheik is a man or a woman. Melee said she was female and some say Sheik is a man. When I think about it, maybe Zelda/Sheik can be a good role model for people who identity as transgender or gender fluid. Either way, Sheik/Zelda is still badass and awesome.
And then there's Tetra, the lovable pirate. Some people debate weather she really is "Zelda" or not, but she's still brilliant and like Zelda, helps Link defeat Ganon. And I quite enjoyed Tetra, it's nice to see Zelda in a different light.
One of the most notable positive traits Zelda has is that she is strong and smart. We see this countless times throughout the series like in Ocarina Of Time, Twilight Princess, Wind Maker and Hyrule Warriors. In a lot of Zelda's variant's she's also shown to be a competent ruler.
Zelda is by far the most graceful fighter in the Super Smash Bros. Melee roster. And she opened the pathway to many more playable female characters in later Smash games.
So we can see that Zelda is both a great leader, but an even better team player. Which is why a lot of people, (me included) would love to have a future Zelda game with Princess Zelda as the main protagonist. We know she has the potential to be a great heroine. Others would like to see her take more action.
Wisdom is an admirable trait in anyone, and I think Zelda has quite a lot of it for such a woman of her age. She's able to see the potential in Link. It's both amusing and infuriating when people who haven't played the game call Link, Zelda instead of Link. Link is the main character of the franchise. So why is it called The Legend Of Zelda and not The Legend Of Link?
Do you remember the old saying: behind every great man, there's a great woman. For Link, that woman could be Zelda. Link and Zelda's destinies are connected, but it doesn't have to be in the romantic sense. I think character agency has taken priority over romance.
We get to see Zelda through various timelines and various fashions. I find Zelda's character so empowering because of this. And in everything she does, there is magic and grace. It's clear that Zelda has been a real inspiration in both her own universe and in our own. Zelda is a common name in the royal family of Hyrule and the late Robin Williams also named his daughter Zelda.
But I think the most important thing that Princess Zelda can teach us is this. Even if we are in all the peril, you can still do something about it. Even when Zelda was captured, she still helped when she could using her wide range of powers.
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