In the always timeless tale that is The Legend of Zelda, the people of Hyrule are dependent upon the recurring legend that is the Hero of Time. As their dependence grew, so did their incompetence.
Nobody Wants To Be The Hero
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker tells a tale of the Hero of Time, clothed in green, who traveled through time, “sealed the dark one away[,] and gave the land light.” Over time, the great evil that the people thought was banished crept its way back, and the people waited for the Hero of Time to return once again.
“…But the hero did not appear.”
The kingdom fell and became legend. The island in which Link inhabited garbs boys in green when they come of age. The elders wanted these boys to know courage, just like the Hero of Time.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is much bleaker. Despite their faith in their hero failing in The Wind Waker, they pressed on through traditions, passing on courage to their youth in the hope of a brighter future. In Twilight Princess, there are no such traditions, only incompetence and fear.
Hyrule becomes enveloped in Twilight, not to be confused with what is described as the beautiful world of the Twilight Realm – “enveloped in the calm of a falling dusk,” the inhabitants gentle and pure-hearted – but instead the Twilight of the antagonist Zant that corrupts the land, turning the inhabitants into Spirits. It is in this Twilight that we can sense these Spirits and hear them as Wolf Link. They’re unaware of their new form, and thus Link’s presence is absent to them.
The Hylian Guards try to find safety away from these shadow creatures, uncontrollably shaking from head to toe. It’s a stark contrast from what seemed like a thriving world to a world devoid of courage. The sudden realization that these supposed guardians of Hyrule are shaking and fearful is startling; that these weak cowards are protecting the defenseless civilians of this kingdom.
We’re seeing the result of heroism’s collapse from the reliance of past heroes. Hyrule is the epitome of the complete and utter absence of courage and the overall sense of duty.
Fear will nestle wherever courage is not, having adverse effects for the kingdom and ultimately ending in its collapse.
You will never do anything [of great significance] in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.
In a kingdom without courage, people will either be self-reliant or dependent, whichever is more convenient at the time. People will strive to be self-reliant in fear of others and will find malicious or egotistical intent where none exists. Coincidentally enough, deeply rooted self-reliance instills within themselves exactly what they fear. People will strive to be dependent when they cannot be self-reliant, and for whatever reason they choose – whether out of laziness, neediness, or incompetence – they will depend on others for their own safety and well-being. This dependence is just as egotistical as self-reliance, and commonly, is petty enough to establish itself next to patience.
I mention these implications because these traits are exactly what we’re seeing throughout the land — the self-reliant Gorons and the overall dependent civilians and Hylian Guards.
The point of the Hylian Guards being fearful and cowardly has been driven through, but the implications drive even further. Through their lack of honor lies a deeper contention with morality. Honor and bravery is the sense of doing what’s right and helping those in need. It’s putting others above yourself and being the humble hero to those who need one, even if it’s just a single person. Nobody is expecting Hero of Times to pop up left and right, but everybody is expecting the good of humanity to shine through when they all need it the most.
Defeat in doing right is nevertheless a victory.
-Frederick W. Robertson
Despite the implications of Hyrule’s predicament, therein lies a glimmer of hope.
Colin: The Antithesis of Cowardice
Colin – a young boy who, despite hating swords and violence, admired Link and was inspired by the courage and the bravery that he stood for. Colin was willing to sacrifice himself for his friend with the sudden surge of courage so expressed in his determined gaze, was willing to learn what it meant to be strong and brave; whose “When I grow up, I’m going to be just like you!” changed meaning as he now knows the courage to protect those he loves, despite his aversion toward violence.
Instead of being crippled by his fear, he gathered the strength and the courage needed to move past this fear. Colin is the antithesis of cowardice.
Colin is the type of person Hyrule desperately needs. Perhaps there is hope for heroism yet.