Final Fantasy III to me seems to be a journey from childhood to adulthood. In the original NES game, your main playable characters were all nameless orphans. With the PSP/DS editions, they have background stories. And in those editions, Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development up Early Adulthood seems to explain their development:
Stages of Psychosocial Development
|Approximate Age||Virtues||Psychosocial Crisis||Significant Relationship||Existential Question|
|Infancy (0-2 years)||Hope||Basic trust vs. mistrust||Mother||Can I trust the world? | Feeding, abandonment|
|Early childhood (2–4 years)||Will||Autonomy vs. shame and doubt||Parents||Is it okay to be me? | Toilet training, clothing themselves|
|Preschool age (4–5 years)||Purpose||Initiative vs. guilt||Family||Is it okay for me to do, move, and act? | Exploring, using tools or making art|
|School age (5–12 years)||Competence||Industry vs. inferiority||Neighbors, school||Can I make it in the world of people and things? | School, sports|
|Adolescence (13–19 years)||Fidelity||Identity vs. role confusion||Peers, role model||Who am I? Who can I be? | Social relationships|
Let’s talk about the characters, in the order of appearance:
is an orphan from in the remote village of Ur by the priest Topapa and his foster mother, Nina. Cid took him to Ur and gave him to the elder Topapa. Since then Nina and Topapa raised Luneth and Arc as their own sons.
initially lacked self-confidence, and generally believed himself to be cowardly. What Arc lacks in strength, he makes up for in intelligence.
as the sole female of the party, is more of a motherly character than a love interest. She scolds her companions for their unruly behavior.
takes his responsibilities as a knight of Sasune very seriously, particularly his duty to guard the princess, Sara Altney. Although Sara clearly has feelings for him, Ingus does not openly show her affection.
So then, what can we make of the children? They want to be adults. But others treat them as adolescents. They aren’t yet independent. Luneth tries to be independent by exploring caves on his own. Arc tries to be independent by proving to the children in his town that he’s not a coward. Refia’s much more mature than the boys but runs away from her responsibilities of carrying on the family business. And Ingus, rather than maturely display them, hides his feelings of love behind his duties to the king. Adolescence and dependence on the stages before them is holding our protagonists.
The adolescents need to work together to defeat their past stages before they move on in their adulthood. The Cloud of Darkness represents these stages:
Though the Cloud of Darkness universally appears as a female, it is officially considered a genderless being that merely chooses to appear in a female form. The Cloud of Darkness refers to itself in the plural, using “We” instead of “I”.
It has only two tentacles, emerging from its waist.
The Cloud of Darkness universally appears as female (Mother; Infancy) but it’s officially genderless (Parents; Early Childhood). The Cloud of Darkness refers to itself in the plural (Family; Preschool Age). It has only two tentacles, emerging from its waist (Neighbors; School Age). Once they defeat Cloud of Darkness, they can accept their adolescence and move on into adulthood.
Also, the protagonists each represent a stage from Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development:
- Luneth – Basic trust vs. mistrust. Can I trust the world? Abandonment;
- Arc – Autonomy vs. shame and doubt;
- Refia – Initiative vs. guilt. Is it okay for me to do, move, and act? Exploring, using tools or making art;
- Ignus – Competence (as a Knight). Can I make it in the world of people and things?