Family and Forgiveness: Hades by Supergiant
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Zagreus: Wounded Child in a Broken Family
As the catalyst of both themes for just about everyone in the game’s story, Zagreus has uncommon perceptions of family and a forgiving nature (which makes his rare grudges all that more intense).
To start with, his mother and father get drastically different treatment from Zag. He fights so hard to get to Persephone for a few minutes before those pesky natural causes get him, even after she herself told him not to come back. Meanwhile, he resists Hades at every turn only to end in an actual fight to the death. He won’t quit on them in either sense, but his mother gets way more slack for saying or doing hurtful things than Hades ever does. Strangely, this says more about his ability to forgive than it does his relation to family.
It’s true that Zag’s well of forgiveness runs deep, but he can be severely hurt or upset to the point of digging his heels in on a grudge. After so long being mocked and having Hades’ bad moods taken out on him, Zag expects his father to have bad motives for things. That said, when Hades isn’t around, he tends to have more optimism about him. For example, the first time he reaches Persephone, he says, “Now that I found you, he… maybe he’ll just let me come back.”
Hades: Self-Sabotaging Loner
I’m not being ironic when I call him a fatalist. Hades sees the worst in things and believes them to be inevitable, and he’s more than willing to suffer so that someone else might be spared that (or relatively lessen their pain). To him, that outcome of his life being generally awful is always on the table. He will do what he has to for the people he cares about, but what that also means is he’ll do painful things even when he doesn’t have to because he’s never considered anything else. He even lies to Zag and says he kidnapped Persephone to feed into his horrible image of him so he might be thrown off the trail of what really happened — because that could very well put him and Persephone on Olympus’ radar.
With all the losses he’s experienced, Hades just isn’t capable of believing there’s a family he can belong to and be happy in without losing that family. He can and will (and indeed did) sabotage himself when he’s given almost any room to do so. Hades is so convinced he can’t be in a family, not even by being close to his son, that he will purposefully do things that he knows will wreck his chances because of his stubbornness and the negative patterns he’s established in his mind.
Persephone: Mender of Broken Homes
There’s a bit of inexperience Persephone has with healthy families, which we can attribute to having an overbearing mother who presumably didn’t let her make her own mistakes and learn from them. Persephone couldn’t have repaired her own relationship with her oppressive mother while living with her, but even later, she needed Zag to do most of the groundwork before she discovered how she could help her husband and son. Still, once she had that realization, Persephone did see a clear path forward to bring their whole family together!
Although not without resistance, since Hades’ first reaction was: “Not even you can fix a broken family, Persephone.”
After so much time spent alone, both away from Mount Olympus and the Underworld, Persephone had healed and developed more of her natural self-assurance to meet challenges like that. With strength of her own and insight into what she’d need, Persephone had what it took to help heal a family broken several times over.