Zoro’s story is one of dream, promise and ambition but also one of inherited will. One of the central themes of One Piece.
From Zoro’s childhood, he has always been a conqueror, conquering everyone in Koushiro’s dojo, except Kuina, to whom he lost 2001 times. He recognizes Kuina as an incredible swordsperson despite her own lack of faith in her potential, with regard to her gender. Here we can see Zoro’s views of dreams. No matter, what your gender is, or where you come from, or who you are, everyone can dream. Your gender or your place of birth or whatever, should not shackle you. This is one of the main reasons why Zoro is so mad at Kaido and Orochi. They are depriving Wano of its dreams and freedom, something he values so much.
When Kuina died, Zoro took her sword from Koushiro. But Zoro did not just inherit her sword,but by inheriting her sword, he inherited her will.
I believe when Zoro fights Mihawk, both of them will use Advanced Conqueror’s Haki and split the sky, sunlight coming down on Zoro, signaling that Zoro’s name is reaching the heavens. And Zoro will say something like,” Looks like she’s watching. I can’t afford to lose now.” And when he beats Mihawk he will call Kuina the Greatest Swordsman in the World as she is the one person Zoro was never able to beat.
When he was beaten by Mihawk, 2 of his 3 swords shattered.
The one sword that didn’t shatter was the Wado Ichimonji, the sword that represents the inherited will. This signifies, that even though Zoro was beaten, his will remained strong. His will was never, and will never be broken. If anything, it got stronger.
Zoro declares that he will never lose again, and he chooses that moment to call Luffy the Pirate King for the first time. This means that he is so certain he will become the World’s strongest swordsman that the only person who is capable of leading the World’s Strongest Swordsman, is the Pirate King himself. This is important. Remember this.
In Thriller Bark, Zoro sacrifices himself for Luffy. And when asked why, he says..
Zoro values Luffy over his own ambition and dreams. If he can’t save Luffy, he can’t protect his dreams, because after all, the only person who is capable of leading the World’s Strongest Swordsman, is the Pirate King himself. If he can’t make Luffy the Pirate King, then how can he be the World’s Strongest Swordsman?
In Enies Lobby, Zoro stops Usopp from returning to the crew unless he apologized to Luffy. Because the captain is the crew. By disrespecting Luffy, Usopp disrespected Zoro’s decision of following Luffy. Zoro holds the crew to be sacred. Leaving the crew means disrespecting the very foundations of the trust the crew, and especially Zoro, has placed on you. And that pisses Zoro off.
Zoro bows down to Mihawk and begs him to train him. Why would a person so deep rooted in honour and pride beg the guy he wants to beat? Because he has to make Luffy the Pirate King. Because the only person who is capable of leading the World’s Strongest Swordsman, is the Pirate King himself.
In Punk Hazard Zoro yells at Luffy to take things seriously. Because Zoro put his trust in Luffy as the man who is worthy to lead the World’s Strongest Swordsman. Wano has a lot of moments of Zoro feeling for the people of Wano, because like I said, they have been robbed of their freedom and ability to dream. They are given bad food and relegated to not showing emotions, and that pisses Zoro off.
And do I even need to speak of the fight against King? It spoke volumes about Zoro’s character, motivations etc. When he gained Advanced Conqueror’s Haki, all he thought about was how he was closer to fulfilling the promise he made to Luffy and Kuina.
Oda has given Zoro a lot of characterization. Anyone who says otherwise might want to re-read.