In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Princess Zelda is instrumental in saving Hyrule from Calamity Ganon with her incredible abilities, but it’s never fully explained how these powers awakened within her. A good number of the game’s flashback sequences and diary entries show that despite her best efforts, Zelda cannot summon forth the divine powers she was foretold to possess. She is shown to struggle with her ability to call upon these powers, even going to great lengths to draw them out. It isn’t until the near complete destruction of her and her sworn protector, Link, that these powers finally emerge to save both them and Hyrule from the menace of Calamity Ganon.
Most games within The Legend of Zelda series showcase a Princess Zelda with formidable magic powers or martial prowess with bow and sword alongside her keen intellect, hereditary traits from her lineage’s close connection to the Goddess Hylia. For the particular Zeldas within those other games, it usually isn’t explicitly shown how she comes about those talents, but it is understood that she inherited them or developed them in some way. In Breath of the Wild, her powers are put forth and showcased as vital to the continued safety and well-being of Hyrule, though they seem to remain dormant within her despite efforts to bring them out.
Zelda is first heard in Breath of the Wild when she is telepathically summoning Link from his restorative slumber, a subtle connection to A Link to the Past and other classic Zelda titles. This mental connection is the first sign of Zelda’s magical potential and is demonstrated further as she communicates with Link during his journey through Hyrule. In Link’s quest to restore both Hyrule and his memories, it’s shown that Zelda is deeply burdened with her responsibilities and her inability to call upon her divine powers. Her struggle is displayed further in a particular cutscene where her father, the King of Hyrule, admonishes her for spending her time focused on the recently unearthed mechanical soldiers, the Guardians and the Divine Beasts, instead of her sacred duties of unlocking her inner magic that will be necessary in preventing the return of Calamity Ganon. Despite her protests of continued prayer and practice, the King continues to make his displeasure known, urging her to focus on her mystical abilities and not the scientific endeavors she is currently undertaking.
Clarity & Caring Are Key To Princess Zelda Protecting Hyrule
When the Sheikah’s Guardians fail against Calamity Ganon, corrupted by Malice to attack Hyrule instead, it’s quite clear that all of Zelda’s defensive preparations are for naught. The Champions of Hyrule and their Divine Beasts are also of no use as they quickly fall to the mighty Calamity Ganon. Even with the Master Sword, Link is overrun by foes and appears to be doomed to share the fate of the other Champions. In this crucial moment all of Zelda’s worries are swept aside, left only with the desire to save her stalwart hero. She then steps between him and their foes, unleashing her dormant powers and sealing away the evil. It is this sense of protection and devotion to save Link, like he had done for her numerous times before, that finally let her shed her burdens and bring out the divine power to stave off the encroaching darkness.
It was the relationship Zelda fostered with Link in BOTW, as well as the unburdening of her mind that finally let Zelda’s divine powers come forth. This sense of purpose and protection allows her to hold Calamity Ganon at bay for 100 years in order to allow Link time to recover so that they can finally seal the evil away. It’s a common theme within the history of the series that it takes the combined efforts of Link’s courage and Zelda’s wisdom to conquer Ganon, but only in Breath of the Wild is it so vividly illustrated. Zelda is presented as a real individual, able to overcome her own hardships and trials. Never before has Zelda’s journey been shown alongside Link’s, and due to the massive success of Breath of the Wild it’s quite likely that it won’t be the last time.
Next: BOTW 2: What “Tears of The Kingdom” Means For Its Story