Silent Hill 2, despite being more than 15 years old, is arguably one of the best old school psychological horror games ever developed with a solid, well written and highly engaging storyline. I could go on for hours at a time trying to dissect every aspect of the game’s twisted plot and I’d still be merely scratching the surface!
Below is a spoiler filled article which mainly talks about Maria and her role in the game. Bare with me as I try my best to explain who she was and, more importantly, who she was to James, the main character of Silent Hill 2.
Silent Hill 2: Introduction
The game begins with the main protagonist, James Sunderland, 29, arriving in a town called Silent Hill after receiving a letter from her wife who apparently has been dead for the past 3 years.
In the first scene we can see James talking to himself in front of a mirror in a run down public restroom. Naturally he is confused about the letter he got from his supposedly dead wife, but at the same time he’s hopeful that perhaps Mary (the name of James’s wife) is in fact alive thanks to some sort of a miracle. And so James begins his journey to find out exactly what happened.
Maria, a 25 year old former dancer at a club called Heaven’s Night, is the second most important antagonist in the game alongside James’s worst nightmare, the Pyramid Head (more on that later).
When James first meets Maria in a local park, he is stunned by how similar she looks to his late wife, Mary.
At this point it’s worth noting that the town (Silent Hill) draws upon the psyche of its visitors and ultimately creates alternate versions of itself for every character.
The fact becomes more clear later in the game when James meets a runaway teenager, Eddie, who experiences all of the same creatures that James sees as horrific monsters, as people laughing and taunting him towards violence.
While Maria is almost identical to Mary in every way (physically speaking), she has a much more sexually extroverted personality. She dresses in bold and revealing clothing and is found flirting with James throughout the game. She’s sensual, caring and more dependent than Mary.
In fact the game’s instruction manual describes her as being the complete opposite of Mary: a more fun, energetic and overall cheerful woman, albeit with a more clingy and intrusive personality which eventually leads James to reject her later in the game, at which point she tries to kill him by transforming into the final “boss” monster.
But… is she even real?
When you consider all of these personality traits in Maria and the fact that occasionally she seems to possess Mary’s memories of James and her being together, it becomes apparent that she is in fact a manifestation of Jame’s lonely subconscious mind that is desperately looking to fill the void left behind after his wife passed away.
In many ways Maria seems to be a “better” version of Mary, at least from a guy’s perspective, as she is much more easy-going to downright slutty, for lack of a better word.
Furthermore, we never actually see her around when James interacts with other people who are also lost in Silent Hill and coupled by the fact that she is desperately trying to remind James how “real” she is, all confirm the theory that Maria doesn’t exist in the first place.
For example when James first meets Maria in Rosewater Park, she says: “I don’t look like a ghost, do I? See, feel how warm I am”.
And then later, after being killed in front of James and then miraculously resurrected, she tells James that “It doesn’t matter who I am. I’m here for you, James. See? I’m real.”
She also happens to know James’s name almost immediately after meeting him for the first time even though he never told her his name. Of course James, being completely engulfed in his own delusion, doesn’t seem to notice it.
Not your typical “monster”
Maria, even though considered to be one of the two main antagonists in the game, is not necessarily malicious towards James (except for the part where she tries to kill him in the end), but she is definitely trying to keep James from leaving Silent Hill.
For example, in the Rebirth ending (yes, the game has multiple outcomes depending on your actions throughout the game) Maria says to James:
” What?! But I’m what you wanted! Mary’s dead. Don’t you understand? She’s not coming back! But I can be yours… I’ll be here for you forever… I’ll never hurt you like she did! So why don’t you want me?! ”
Is she trying to keep James from learning the truth?
In the beginning of “Born from a Wish”, a prequel to Silent Hill 2, she mentions that she’s scared of being left alone and afraid of being in pain and in the main game seems to be highly bothered by the fact that James is more interested in finding out what happened to her wife instead of protecting and taking care of her.
At one point she lashes out to James and accuses him of being rude and selfish for only caring about his dead wife and not her by saying:
“ Why didn’t you try to save me? All you care about is that DEAD WIFE of yours! ”
Maria’s purpose in the game
Before we can start to understand the purpose of Maria in the game we have to dig a little deeper and figure out exactly what’s going on with James because, believe me when I say, It’s not all what it looks like!
As James ventures deeper and deeper into the “rabbit hole” he eventually comes to terms with the fact that he was directly responsible of Mary’s death by suffocating her using a pillow some time after the doctors said there was nothing they could do to cure her illness.
So he’s a hero then? No. James didn’t do it out of compassion. Instead he killed his wife mainly due to sexual frustration. There are subtle hints about this throughout the game, for example the infamous scene where Pyramid Head is seen abusing two mannequins.
Another reason for killing his wife was, of course, the sickness itself as it gradually changed Mary’s personality. In the end she was having constant mood swings and she would lash out at James in bursts of anger for no reason.
As Mary’s illness progressed, James started to resent her in almost every way, yet he still felt love towards her which in turn lead him on a downward spiral of self destruction and self pity. It took James 3 years to finally snap and end Mary’s life.
After losing his wife, James’s life took a turn from bad to worse as he was now in complete denial of having killed Mary and so he created a story in his mind that she had been dead for 3 years because of her illness.
It’s very likely that the letter he received, which led him to Silent Hill in the first place, was just a hallucination and because of his numerous irrational and reckless actions throughout the game, it’s safe to assume that James was, in fact, suicidal and went to Silent Hill to kill himself.
Maria’s purpose becomes more clear
When you consider all of the above, it would make sense that Maria, being a figment of Jame’s imagination, was there mainly to provide comfort.
I guess, deep inside, James knew that he had killed his wife, but because what he did was so awful, he chose to ignore it and instead created Maria in the image of Mary so he could be together with her, oblivious to reality.