Disclaimer: This article was written by a member of the Hidden Triforce team. The information, opinions, and beliefs displayed in this article belong to that of the author and do not represent the Hidden Triforce as a whole. This article also contains character and location related spoilers.
Princess Zelda in Breath of the Wild has taken the collective breath away from Zelda fans with her drop-dead-gorgeous body and quirky personality. This princess has easily become one of the favorites. Despite her claim to fame and astounding intellect she was incapable of summoning the triforce of wisdom on her own. With royalty comes insurmountable responsibility and with the loss of her mother her mental health had taken a toll. Lets explore Zelda’s story a little deeper to find out exactly why she struggled for so long.
Recounted in Zelda’s and King Rhoam’s diaries is the unexpected death of the Queen of Hyrule and that is where Zelda’s troubles began. This event brings up two issues in Zelda’s quest: the first being the experiencing of a traumatic event as a child. Zelda was merely six years old when her mother had passed. She was at such a young age to know about death and experience loss. An ordeal such as this can affect someone’s confidence, outlook on the world, motivation, and openness to change. It is not really a question of if this affected her but a question of how this affected her. King Rhoam depicts Zelda’s behavior the day of the funeral as mature when in actuality she was repressing her emotions, an unhealthy coping mechanism at its best. She was too young and too ill-equipped in emotional intelligence to handle her reality. She was psychologically hindered which could have some effect on her capabilities of accessing the triforce.
The second issue that her mother’s death caused is: the loss of a teacher. As it states in her diary Zelda points out the fact that without her mother she has no one to guide her. She now had to teach herself something that was normally passed down from mother to daughter. All she had as reference were decrepit texts aging thousands of years old. Some people excel when learning from texts but Zelda seemed to be more of a hands on learner. She relished in being out with the Sheikah when excavating for their ancient technology. Experiencing Hyrule and its secrets are what propelled her forward. Being left with only texts from ages long gone can be quite discouraging. Without her guide she had become lost.
When grieving Zelda had learned to become hardened emotionally, unable to even shed a tear at her mothers funeral. Because of such an intense experience at a young age she lacked vulnerability and acceptance. These two traits, one would presume, are highly important for someone to properly bear the triforce of wisdom. She was stunted in these aspects and that could have played a part in preventing her from awakening at any of the springs.
In the memory Captured Princess Zelda talks affectionately about the Silent Princess, a beautiful flower that they’ve been unsuccessful at growing in the castle gardens. This scene when looked at closely reveals Zelda’s very own situation as a metaphor. She, like the flower, feels that she is incapable of thriving in her current situation as princess of Hyrule. She was obviously following the general regimen for activating the triforce by visiting all the springs and praying to the Goddess statues. Zelda did not lack the dedication or the discipline but the confidence and support from her community. Her father pressured her incessantly to awaken the triforce’s power, often lashing out in anger. The Hyrule Castle staff thought less of her and gossiped about her inability to succeed, well according to King Rhoam that is. He used this information against Zelda to motivate her to succeed. These high expectations and lack of understanding left Zelda with broken confidence in her abilities. She had no sturdy foundation to stand on. She was struggling to be what everyone expected her to e, to live up to the title of the Princess of Destiny, that she had an internal conflict between that persona and her own. Forced to follow the strict path of royalty she was unable to learn or grow in a way that was best suited for her.
In a few of Link’s memories we see Zelda obsessing over Sheikah technology. She worked rigorously and passionately on deciphering old texts about the machinery. She did so because she saw their technology as a solution to the problem and that is what made sense to her. It wasn’t some abstract, foreign power. It was physical objects that could be easily handled and understood. She had a studious mind with great interest in hypothesizing and problem solving. She was approaching the issue in her own way which may have lead her to awakening the triforce within her because she would have been allowed to be herself and grow in her own way. Unfortunately she was forced by her father to go about this process the traditional way. She wasn’t allowed to be herself and carried out the duty of being what everyone expected her to be. With no one to accept her for who she was she became that much more incapable of learning to wield the triforce.
If Zelda’s mom was to be her teacher involving her duties as the Princess of Destiny it must be safe to assume then that this arrangement was had by all the princesses and their mothers prior to them. From Skyward Sword we know that the goddess Hylia resides in each new iteration of princess Zelda. This is how the lineage of the princess has continued on for thousands of years; One princess passes on her knowledge, guidance, and power to the next. In Breath of the Wild Zelda was put at a disadvantage when her mother died but perhaps her mothers death wasn’t only the loss of a teacher but also a loss to her link to Hylia. It isn’t entirely clear how Hylia transfers herself from one princess to the next so nothing can be definitively proven, but Zelda did recount a dream she had in her diary. The dream was of a mysterious woman attempting to speak with her but Zelda was unable to understand her. It would seem that the essence of Hylia was trying to reach out to her in a vision. Without any guidance Zelda was unable to interpret her own vision. She had lost her connection to Hylia.
There is more to this disconnected sate though. Even if Zelda’s mother had lived there is a chance that she would have struggled to awaken the triforce anyway. Considering how far down the lineage she is there must be a massive disconnect between her and her original self. With this disconnect comes a weakness in power and perhaps Hylia’s power is just starting to wear thin. There is one piece of what I am going to call ‘circumstantial evidence’ elsewhere in Hyrule. There are three dragons who roam Hyrule whose purposes were not made clear but each one is connected to a specific piece of the triforce. Of these three dragons only one was corrupted by Calamity Ganon’s plague: Naydra the dragon of wisdom. In Mount Lanayru Link happens upon the Spring of Wisdom where Naydra lies infected with evil. The other two dragons are free and don’t seem at all affected by Ganon’s reign over Hyrule. With Hylia’s grip weakening the balance of the triforce could be in jeopardy.
Hylian civilization was blessed with ten thousand years of peace. At that point in time everything they had learned about Ganon was far from first hand. Merely reading texts from ages long passed about machines left abandoned they had no idea what was in store for them. They had never experienced war. Their society had been living comfortably for too long. There is no way they could’ve ever been prepared for Ganon. They didn’t know the mindset they would have to be in. Zelda knew somewhat the importance of her role to play but experience definitely would’ve helped more. Growing up in such a peaceful time made it difficult for Zelda to truly comprehend what was needed from her. That is why she was only able to call upon the triforce when her and Link’s lives depended on it.
Princess Zelda although impeccable was placed in a time that was unfamiliar and unprepared for an attack from Ganon. Only when prompted by the fortune teller did Hyrule begin to prepare for war. Zelda and her people had long forgotten the days of the Triforce. Without her people Hylia is losing her strength to ability to awaken herself as easily as she had before. Zelda’s grief over the loss of her mother sealed away her capability and nearly the fate of Hyrule with it.
Thanks for reading.