Link’s Awakening is a Retell of Dante’s Inferno and Purgatory
By: Gustavo Calvo
Koholint is Where the Dreams Live.
Let’s talk about literature a little bit, we all had on a certain point of our lives a book that has influenced our personal lives; also, there has been moment where different branches of art influence each other. Beyond, the 2010 Dante’s Inferno video game, there are other video games influenced by the classic of literature that was written in 1308.
Some of you probably heard the theory that Majora’s Mask is a retell of 1/3 of Inferno, but in reality, we can see that Majora’s Mask is one of the many games that were influenced by the narrative of the Divine comedy; Link’s Awakening is just another one but also they play with the tropes of a linear adventure that makes the player reach and defeat the ultimate evil.
The Legend of Zelda franchise until Breath of the Wild follows a linear path of adventure, similar as when Dante’s on the first chant descend into hell to find and rescue the soul of Beatrice; in theory, Dante’s journey is a journey that sets him to search enlighten, similar as Link when he set sail in the great sea to improve his body and soul.
The influences don’t need to be so direct, they can be subtle; they, can show where the creators found the inspiration. In the case of Link’s Awakening waking up ashore in Koholint Island is similar when Dante’s reach the shores of Purgatory and find himself with the task to climb the mountain of Purgatory to save the soul of his lover; in the case of Link to find an escape of the island that he is trapped.
One of the similarities that are found in almost every Zelda game prior Breath of the Wild is the number of dungeons that are within each game, within a few exceptions the numbers that repeats the most are eight or nine; which in the game they are a necessary route to obtain Link’s source of knowledge and wake up the Wind Fish, which itself could be a mere representation of God.
The game can take a more complex turn, as through the gameplay we can see hints of an ontological paradox, which the Wind Fish let information spread around the island on how to wake him up from the slumber; but, we don’t need to go on that level of analysis of reality, that could be taken for another topic.
One interesting aspect towards the game lore is how the deal of a divine being is exposed to the player, it matches the concept of God in the Divine Comedy; albeit not towards the metaphysical representation as a trinity but rather it takes the form of a whale with wings, which seems to have a similar divine power in which his essence is everywhere on the realms he created.
The comparisons between Beatrice (Dante’s love interest) and Marin, being Link’s guide through the adventure are quite similar to the roles of Virgil in the hell part of the poem and Beatrice during the last stages of purgatory; they both represent an idea of a perfect knowledge that is almost impossible to reach, but overall, they a motivation for the hero to move forward in their quest for knowledge.
The ending of the game, is where we can see a parallelism between the ending of the epic poem as an ascension to heaven in which Dante is in perfect communion with God’s Grace and Link becoming aware of the complexity of his own existence that it could be a mere dream; one last aspect that is worth noticing is that Marin is similar as Beatrice, both are tragic figures, that are the end their liberation is marked on the will of their own deities.