The Master Sword - An Essence Of Childhood
Speculation is the name of the game when it comes to understanding a lot of the meaning behind Zelda stories. There’s just not a lot of official resources that give explanations to the reasons behind the writers’ storytelling decisions.
In this video, Ocarina Of Time - A Masterclass In Subtext, the Master Sword is referenced multiple times as being the essence of childhood even though no text exists that uses this term directly. But with a simple study of the peripheral text available to us in Ocarina Of Time’s dialogue and story beats, we start to understand why this term could be accurate.
(The following write up assumes that the reader has watched the video in full)
There are 2 forms of ‘childhood’ at play in Ocarina Of Time. A figurative childhood represented through Kokiri Forest, and a physical childhood represented through Link’s child body.
In a way, these 2 representations are mind (figurative) and body (physical).
Before the master sword is plucked from the pedestal, these 2 childhoods are synced together in a nice balance.
But a great disconnection occurs when Link removes the sword. Mind and body are separated as Link becomes an adult. Link’s child body could not wield the Master Sword and this is just straight up dialogue:
The Master Sword is a sacred blade which evil ones may never touch....
Only one worthy of the title of "Hero of Time" can pull it from the Pedestal of Time....
However, you were too young to be the Hero of Time....
Therefore, your spirit was sealed here for seven years.
And now that you are old enough, the time has come for you to awaken as the
Hero of Time! Well, do you understand your destiny?
Adult Link can go back to Kokiri Forest (figurative childhood) but is rejected by his childhood friends. The mind rejects the body.
Okay so the childhood disconnection is established.
This is all just to say that when Link carries around the Master Sword, he carries around the key to reconnect his childhood.
The Master Sword is referenced as a few different things across the dialogue, a ship, a key, a sacred blade. But some unused text exists that when translated from Japanese, just straight up calls the Master Sword the ‘Sword Of Time’.
時の剣… (The Sword Of Time…)
Time is in Link’s hands and this theme is scattered everywhere throughout the dialogue.
As long as you hold the Ocarina of Time
and the Master Sword,
you hold time itself in your hands...
Link is carrying around this time-travelling tool/vehicle/key that can access/reconnect his childhood.
All of this just makes the end even sadder because once Link DOES reconnect childhood, Navi leaves.
In all truth though, after seeing how confused some of the audience is with the concept of ‘essence of childhood’, I wish I had perhaps used the phrase ‘key to childhood’ or something like that. Always learning!