This article contains spoilers for The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.
Several of you checked out my article that contained Game Theory’s video which shot out some information to possibly reveal an underlying theme that exists inside of Majora’s Mask. It has been stated that the stages in Majora’s Mask mirror the Five Stages of Grief, and even if this theory isn’t true, I can’t stop thinking about it.
The darker tones were what pulled me back into the world of Majora’s Mask, but learning about this new detail will most likely force me to play through it again, this time with a different mindset. If anything, this theory only reiterates my belief that video games are art which have the power to ignite powerful messages and theories such as this one. Another game that delivers this heightened sense of involvement is the Mass Effect Trilogy. Anyone else remember the Indoctrination Theory? I liked it.
Anyway, in Majora’s Mask, Link and Navi (Hey! Listen!) have been separated. Link has set off to find her. The beginning is immediately dark and portrays a deep sense of loss and grief, placing Link and Epona in the Lost Woods in Hyrule, where he ultimately encounters the Skull Kid. In Ocarina of Time, the Skull Kid was a sympathetic character cast out and scorned by his own friends. But it’s obvious that there is an underlying evil present within the Skull Kid in Majora’s Mask, and Link soon finds himself in Termina.
Starting off, it’s interesting to focus on the name Termina, which could be based off of the word Terminal.
- causing death: inevitably, but often gradually, leading to the death of the patient affected
- dying: affected by a fatal illness or condition that is approaching its final stages
- relating to dying patients: for or concerned with patients with terminal conditions
Link is immediately placed inside of a doomed world where the characters all seem to be trapped inside of their own particular mindset when it comes to the feral moon which will soon crash upon Termina.
Clock Town – Denial
Clock Town is the first stage Link visits after becoming a Deku Shrub (which eventually transforms into a mask). Here, Link learns that there is a countdown to the Carnival of Time which coincidentally runs with the time it will take for the moon to collapse on the world. There are three days left.
While stuck as a Deku Shrub, Link finds himself particularly snubbed by the people in the town, and becomes confined from several different places and activities. However, a trip to the Mayor’s Office will reveal the true turmoil present in Clock Town. It’s not that they’re worried about the moon falling. It’s that they’re denying that it will, even despite the blunt proof of their eventual destruction.
“You cowards! Do you actually believe the moon will fall? The confused townsfolk simply caused a panic by believing this ridiculous, groundless theory. The soldiers couldn’t prevent the panic, but outside the town walls is where the danger is!
“You want answers? The answer is that the carnival should not be canceled! If the soldiers wish to run, then run, Viscen! We councilmen will stick to tradition. This carnival will be a success! I’ve never heard of a defense abandoning its town!” – Mutoh the Carpenter
This is the most frank example of the denial that exists inside of Clock Town, but this mental state is reiterated through the actions and demeanor of the townsfolk as well. Life cheerfully continues with carpenters building and preparing for the carnival. The whole area seems to refuse the creepy moon in the sky. However, on the third day, it becomes apparent that the danger has finally become too great to ignore. The merchants and carpenters will have evacuated. Even the swordmaster will retreat to a back room in his house where he succumbs to his fear.
Woodfall – Anger
The Southern Swamp is the second place Link will visit where he inevitably encounters another scenario of grief. The Deku Tribe’s princess has gone missing, and lost in his anger, the Deku King has plans to punish a monkey who is supposedly the one who has kidnapped his daughter and fed her to the monsters inside Woodfall Temple.
The monkey, however, is innocent. In the midst of the princess being kidnapped, the swamp water has turned poisonous, an event the monkey was actually investigating. Instead of using his energy to find his daughter and fix the toxic swamp water, the Deku King has manifested his anger toward something of no importance.
“We’re about to punish the foolish monkey who kidnapped the Deku princess! He has insulted the Royal Family. I’ll show him what happens when you do that! That foolish money is up in that cage. Take a good look at his face!” -Deku King
Link takes on the responsibility of purifying the water and saving the princess by reaching the temple. In order to enter, though, Link must learn the Sonata of Awakening which can lift the temple from its resting place.
Accepting the truth and focusing on reality pacifies the anger existing throughout Woodfall, in turn rescuing the land as well as the innocent monkey from the twisted anger of the Deku King.
Snowhead – Bargaining
Snowhead brings back the Gorons who are in mourning from the loss of Darmani, the Goron Patriarch. Link encounters Darmani’s ghost who displays one of the most blatant examples of bargaining.
“As I am, I can only watch as Goron Village is slowly buried in ice… I may have died, but I cannot rest. So, you can use magic? The soaring one also told me that you are able to use it… I beg you! Bring me back to life with your magic!” -Darmani’s Ghost
Gone is the anger Link experienced in Woodfall, but here is another example of how desperation can drive certain beings when faced with death. Darmani is unable to accept that he has died and left his home to freeze. While the anger is Woodfall was displayed through the toxic water, I often see the snow in Snowhead as symbolism of Darmani’s inability to move on. He is frozen in a state of denial and frantic hope.
Great Bay – Depression
Link encounters the dying Mikau of the coastline of Great Bay, introducing the return of the Zora. Mikau’s girlfriend Lulu, who is suffering over her missing eggs, is the object that emanates depression. While it would have been interesting to the reaction of Mikau’s death, this info is inevitably unnoticed and irrelevant as Link can travel around with the Zora mask to seamlessly place himself within the tribe.
Lulu’s depression stems from the loss of her eggs as she stands isolated, gazing out toward the Great Bay Temple. There is a deep sense of maternal depression. Only by reestablishing a connection through the tune from Lulu’s offspring can mitigate the suffering.
But this is also an interesting event for Link as well as he works to reconnect by redirecting the water flow through various pipes in the dungeon. Fixing the flow restores life to the place. And thus leads him to…
Ikana Valley – Acceptance
Ikana Valley is known as the land of the dead. In every other region, Link was forced to encounter characters each dealing with their own losses, but Ikana is already full of death which leaves Link to focus on himself.
Link climbs a tower leading into the heavens, a task that requires him to make twin images of himself to progress. These images mimic each of his four forms: the Deku, the Goron, the Zora, and himself. An interesting detail to note is the fact that each of Link’s masks come from a being already veiled by death. The first three are obvious, but including a shell of himself may perhaps stress that Link is dead as well.
By leaving these forms behind, Link can climb to obtain the light arrows which could possibly symbolize enlightenment. Another thing to focus on is the battle between Link and the Garo Masters. Their description details them as “emptiness cloaked in darkness.” Perhaps Link’s battles with them as he climbs could signify the battle between darkness and light to ultimately accept what has happened to him.
Another interesting thing to note is the constant presence of the number four. Link must progress through four stages outside of Clock Town in order to free the four giants from the temples. In Japanese numerology, the number four brings misfortune, kind of like how we place superstition on the number 13. The pronunciation “shi” is the same for the character that means “death.”
Could Link truly be dead inside of the story of Majora’s Mask? That’s for you to decide. Regardless of the opinions and proof which debunks this theory, it has been a realization that has dramatically stuck with me. I look forward to playing through Majora’s Mask again, this time with this theory to accompany my gameplay. For those of you who haven’t seen the Game Theory video of the same topic, feel free to watch it below.
I apologize for the repeated post (for those who saw the post with the Game Theory video). Perhaps by writing out this theory, more details could be found and explored. Even though symbolism can be seen inside things that may not be significant, it is an interesting thing to explore.