Silent Hill 2 Themes Analysis

The main thing to understand concerning the video game Silent Hill 2 is that the monsters of the game are in fact manifestations from James Sunderland’s mind, with the possible exception of few. As such, understanding the monsters is more a matter of understanding James than some sort of magical or science fiction comprehension. This article will contain spoilers for those who have not played the game.

Silent Hill 2 Themes

Silent Hill 2: Love and Death

The main theme of Silent Hill 2 is love and death, not just one and the other combined but a true story involving both heavily. In a way, it explores the manner in which a couple imagine their life together and how the result of one of them becoming terminally ill shatters that dream.

Silent Hill 2: Suicide

As the letter from Mary to James is a figment of James’ imagination, his intention to go to Silent Hill so as to be with his wife is actually an intention to go to Silent Hill so as to kill himself to be with his dead wife. This explains the reasons for his carefree attitude concerning his car as well as putting himself in danger. It also explains the ‘In Water’ ending.

Silent Hill 2: Facing the Shadow then the Anima

In Jungian psychology, the Shadow represents the repressed negative aspects of the psych whereas the anima represents the feminine aspects of the psyche. Carl Jung argued that when it came to the development of a male, facing the shadow archetype is the apprentice piece and facing the anima is the masterpiece. Interestingly, this is precisely the order in which the ending of Silent Hill 2 is faced with Pyramid Head being the shadow archetype and Maria/Mary being the Anima.

Silent Hill 2: Monsters As Manifestation of Repressed

As with every Silent Hill game in the series the monsters of Silent Hill 2 are actually from the mind of one of the characters, namely James Sunderland. They really represent his psychological condition, and as a result each of them serves as a reflection of his psychological trauma.

Examples:

Silent Hill 2 Monsters Analysis

Silent Hill 2: Endings As Psychological Conclusion

The endings of Silent Hill 2 are not so much the end of a story as they are a psychological conclusion of some kind. As a result, acquiring the different endings is a matter of taking a different psychological route than it is about winning or losing.

Examples:

Silent Hill 2 Endings Analysis

Silent Hill 2 Sub Themes

Silent Hill 2: Illness and Hospitalization

As James’ late wife Mary serves as one of the major motivators and as she also spent a lot of time in hospital before finally dying of her illness, one of the sub themes of Silent Hill is hospitalization and illness. This is explored in a number of ways, through the use of medical metaphors in many of the monsters from Nurses to something of a straight jacket as well as frames representing bedding.

Silent Hill 2: Male Oppression

The theme of oppressive masculinity is so strong in Silent Hill 2 it should almost be a main theme. James is often subtly referred to as ‘the oppressor’ via Pyramid Head, which is actually him. Also, James’ link to Eddie and Maria is not that they have all lost someone, but that they have been oppressed by masculinity and he was the oppressor when he murdered his wife. In a way, James is one of the major monsters of Silent Hill for Eddie and Maria.

Silent Hill 2: Holes As Representing Femininity

Anywhere in the game that there is a hole, it makes a subtle gesture towards the feminine and subsequently James Sunderland’s wife Mary. The game itself is literally littered with holes of various kinds, from the hole that James puts his hand in early in the game, to the toilet that he does later to the excess of holes in the prison which he must jump down into in order to continue. There is also an element of Alice in Wonderland to this, jumping down the rabbit hole.

Examples:

Silent Hill 2 Holes Analysis

Silent Hill 2: Masculine Sounds and Music

The sounds and music of Silent Hill 2 also has a distinctly masculine leaning to it. Of course, this is due to the sounds coming from the mind of James Sunderland, who is male. As a result, the sounds tend to have a distinctly metallic ring to them, often with the sounds of power tools and drums integrated. The best example of this is the confrontation between James and the two Pyramid Heads.

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