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Behind The Mask: The Psychology Of Zelda

Behind The Mask: The Psychology Of Zelda

Behind The Mask: The Psychology Of Zelda

“You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?”  Considered to be one of the most iconic quotes within The Legend of Zelda franchise and arguably the most significant within The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. It is the initial piece of dialogue, uttered by the Happy Mask Salesman, that truly sets the narrative of the game and signifies the essence and experience as to what Majora’s Mask entails (a story of loss and despair).

Considered among fans worldwide to be one of the darkest games within Nintendo’s Zelda franchise, Majora’s Mask’s narrative is set in the land of Termina, a parallel world/dimension to that of the familiar Hyrule. It is not long before Link, franchise protagonist, realizes that a troublesome imp named Skull Kid has stolen a sacred mask with the intention of summoning the Moon and, in the process, obliterate the land of Termina and all its living inhabitants. Link has a mere three days to prevent its inevitable destruction.

Unknown to some, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a video game based on a robust narrative foundation encompassing various psychological underpinnings regarding the captivating storyline. As many know, Majora’s Mask directly ensues Ocarina of Time’s storyline. Link, considered to be the Hero of Time, embarks upon a novel quest following Ganondorf’s defeat.


It is apparent that Majora’s Mask is a narrative of loss and despair. From parting ways with his fairy companion Navy to the encountering of Skull Kid, Link is dragged into Termina, a land overwhelmed by death and grief, to face his darkest fears and emotions. Upon entering Clock Town, the game’s primary location, it is evident that what seems to be a petty ‘squabble’ between bureaucrats can, in actuality, be interpreted as a metaphor for the first state of grief in the Kübler-Ross model, denial.

It is suggested that the Freudian conceptions of denial encompass a borderline psychotic refusal to recognize the physical facts of the immediate environment as well as the frequent reluctance to accept any one event’s implications. The committee in charge of organizing the annual carnival, unwilling to acknowledge and prepare for the looming danger ahead, choose not only to ignore but openly ridicule the very idea of a falling moon, refraining it from interfering with said carnival.

The very notion of refusing to take initiation can be directly linked to the psychological concept known as the bystander effect; the social phenomenon in which as the number of individuals within any one particular event/situation increases, the probability of providing aid in moments of distress tend to decrease. That is, the citizens of Clock Town consider no responsibility bestowed on them.


Southern Swamp

Following his arrival at the Deku Palace at the center of the Southern Swamp, Link encounters the second stage of grief: anger. The Deku Princess has been kidnapped by the Skull Kid, resulting in the Deku King’s endless fury. Eventually, Link manages to pacify this anger upon rescuing the princess from Woodfall temple and an otherwise terrible fate.


Thereafter, Link encounters the third stage of grief, bargaining (typified by desperate efforts and prayers to halt and/or reserve suffering and loss) as he enters the snowy, mountainous region of Snowhead, meeting the ghost of Darmani, a Goron warrior. Darmani’s ineffective desire to be brought back to life is a prime example of bargaining. It has been proposed that the paralyzing cold that has struck Snowhead symbolizes Darmani’s inability to move on into the afterlife.

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Great Bay

The fourth stage of grief, depression, is accompanied by the desire to disconnect and retreat inwards. That said, it is perceptible that Lulu, a female Zora vocalist resigning in the coast of Great Bay, has fallen into a state of maternal depression, isolating herself from her fellow bandmates, as she realizes that her not yet hatched offspring have been stolen by Gerudo pirates. Nonetheless, Link manages to pacify Lulu’s depressive state once playing the “New Wave Bossa Nova”, only known by her offspring, implying that they have been salvaged at long last.

Ikana Valley

With Great Bay Temple at rest, Link journeys onward to his final destination, Ikana Valley. Amidst this voyage, Link encounters the fifth and final stage of grief: acceptance. Within the Stone Tower Temple, Link must defeat the Garo Masters who are identified as “emptiness cloaked in darkness”, exemplifying Link’s metaphorical journey pertaining to the endeavor of finding Navi and thereby replenishing the loss from his life. That is, by accepting the grief associated with that emptiness, Link demonstrates that he is no longer troubled by the loss of his friend. 

It has become evident that The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a game with rich narrative and psychological underpinnings. The psychology behind Majora’s Mask can be considered endless, exemplified by the plethora of theories and analyses stemming from dedicated fans. The reason being is as stated prior, the game can be considered the darkest/most poignant game of the franchise, leaving much to be desired and, therefore, elucidated.


With that said, Majora’s Mask will forever go down in history as not only one of the greatest games in the The Legend of Zelda franchise, but as one of the most preeminent video games ever to be developed. Tell me, what are your fondest memories?

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