Don’t Miss This Freudian Analysis of ‘Ocarina of Time’


Writing for The Ontological Geek, Joey DiZoglio looks at a childhood classic through the lens of Freud. There are many parts of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time that might be interesting to look at psychoanalytically, but DiZoglio chooses a particularly tempting one: the encounter with Shadow Link.

At this point a more sim­ple inter­pre­ta­tion must be acknowl­edged before unpack­ing the greater com­plex­i­ty at work. One might assume Shadow Link is inher­ent­ly evil the way Phantom Ganon embod­ies an ethe­re­al malev­o­lence. This inter­pre­ta­tion elides the actu­al threat present in Shadow Link’s appear­ance. Again, I make a move to reject the con­ven­tion­al Hero’s Journey inter­pre­ta­tion that the hero must defeat him­self apro­pos Luke Skywalker fight­ing him­self wrapped in Darth Vader’s mask in the cave of Dagobah. Luke has desires while Link, as M has observed, is void of char­ac­ter­i­za­tion. What we see in Shadow Link is not a dark man­i­fes­ta­tion of a character’s inner flaws, but some­thing much more sub­tle: a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the game that does not need us.

Suppose Shadow Link kills Link but then con­tin­ues on with the quest. Imagine this dig­i­tal penum­bra pick­ing up exact­ly where the play­er left off and car­ry­ing through until he drove his sword through Ganon and became the hero of time. If the game solved itself we would be reduced to mere spec­ta­tors watch­ing a long, and at times, repet­i­tive fan­ta­sy movie.

Yet Shadow Link is not a per­fect repli­ca­tion. When the play­er makes a sword-thrust the shade has the abil­i­ty to jump and land upon Link’s sword before strik­ing a counter attack and back-flipping away. The play­er has no access to such agili­ty. It’s as if the com­put­er mocks our slow reflex­es.

Head on over to The Ontological Geek to take in the full analysis, which goes to some fascinating — and very Freudian — places.

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