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|“||You've given me so much and I haven't been able to return a single thing. That's why I want you to live for yourself now. Do what's best for you, James. James... You made me happy.||„|
|~ Mary to James in her post-mortem letter.|
Mary Shepherd-Sunderland is the posthumous character in Silent Hill 2. the deceased wife of James Sunderland. The couple had vacationed in Silent Hill a few years prior to the events of Silent Hill 2. Mary was a kind, sweet young woman who spent the last moments of her life in emotional turmoil, distress and anguish after being stricken with a terminal disease.
James and Mary met at a house party held by a mutual friend, and their affection evolved from a blazing passion to a peaceful and stable relationship. Before Mary and James were married, James would listen to Mary playing the piano. Mary liked to play the piano and even though she wasn't very good at it, James still loved to hear her play.
Prior to the events of Silent Hill 2, Mary and James vacationed in Silent Hill. They stayed in the Lakeview Hotel, where James recorded a video tape of Mary in Room 312, although he accidentally forgot the video tape in the hotel and the couple left Silent Hill. Mary stated in the video tape that she loved the town and would love to go to Silent Hill again one day.
Not too long after their vacation, Mary fell ill with an unspecified incurable, terminal disease and was bedridden in a hospital. She was given a maximum of three years to live, which she was forced to spend in the hospital. The disease had altered her skin tone to a sickly shade of tan and promoted hair loss, dissolving any traces of physical beauty she once possessed. Her doctor predicted she would have less than three years left to live and told James that there was "no effective treatment for her condition" and they were unable to help her.
Both Mary and James did not take her predicament well. In anger, Mary lashed out at those closest to her, especially James. James did not visit Mary in the hospital very frequently because the disease seemed to bring out tensions between the couple. Upon examining some liquor bottles in Heaven's Night, James states that he drinks "a fair bit", most likely due to missing Mary and the joy they once had. Mary suffered from suicidal depression, saying, "It'd be easier if they'd just kill me." and wanted to die. Mary's and James' wish of having children was also put to an end due to her disease.
Nevertheless, Mary was able to find sanity in thoughts of Silent Hill, the last place where she was happy. She talked about the town with another patient, the orphan Laura, and the two bonded. Mary would often wait for James, and Laura would console her when he did not come; this is most likely why Laura states that Mary was always waiting for James and is hostile towards him. If things had worked out differently, Mary was willing to adopt Laura; in the "Leave" ending of the game, James leaves Silent Hill with Laura, possibly to fulfill Mary's wish.
In the later days of her life, Mary wrote farewell letters to Laura and James and requested that her nurse, Rachel, give the notes to them after her death. Mary was permitted to return home for a short while, although it was only because her death was imminent and she was afraid James would not see her again before she died. At their home, James was tasked with being Mary's caretaker, which eventually became a burden.
It was not the disease that killed Mary, but her husband James, who suffocated her in her bed with a pillow. James sees himself smothering Mary on the video tape that he forgot at the Lakeview Hotel years ago, and this is how he eventually remembers his homicide, having repressed the memory previously.
While the Book of Lost Memories suggests the possibility of James taking Mary's body with him to Silent Hill in the trunk of his car, the novelization affirms it and follows the "In Water" ending. However, Masahiro Ito said that that he believed Mary's body was actually on the back seat. When asked how James didn't notice her body in the backseat during the drive, Ito replied that James had repressed the memory of her murder.
Silent Hill 2
Although physically dead, Mary lives on as James's delusion. Repressing the memory of murdering Mary, James believes that he received a letter from Mary beckoning him to come to Silent Hill, where she is waiting for him in their "special place". He uses this as the basis for a delusion that Mary is still alive. He is also convinced that Mary died three years ago, when in reality, she was still alive a few days ago.
Mary was also re-imagined as Maria, a creation of James’s will. Maria appears to be a sexier, more wild version of Mary, possibly what James thought Mary had lacked in some areas. Maria's scenario title, Born from a Wish, has some truth to it due to this. At one point in Born from a Wish, Maria can examine a teddy bear and she thinks that Laura would love it, showing that she has Mary's memories. Maria remembers what James did to Mary, but also remembers that underneath, he is a kind person. Occasionally, Maria reveals knowledge of Mary's past to James.
Three of the monsters in the game have also been confirmed to be symbolic of Mary in some way. Pyramid Head represents James's subconscious desire for punishment for murdering Mary. The Flesh Lip and final boss are symbolic of Mary. Other monsters, such as the Lying Figure and Mandarin have been theorized to be related to Mary, but this has not been proven.
In the Lakeview Hotel, near the end of the game, Mary's voice calls James to find her after James tells Laura that Mary is dead. James is led to a hallway in which the player hears a previous conversation that he and Mary had while she was still alive. In this conversation, James offers Mary flowers he has brought her. She immediately rejects them, lashing out at him and protesting that she is too disgusting and ugly to receive flowers. Shortly after this, she experiences another mood swing and begs James to forgive her, pleading for him to stay with her and assure her that she is not going to die.
Mary says various things in each ending to James, who has become aware of the crime he has committed. It is conceivable that her death three years ago is merely James's delusion.
- In the "Maria" ending, Mary is sitting on a bed at the top of Lakeview Hotel. She is pleased to see James, but is displeased about him needing Maria. James tells her, "I wanted to see you... even an illusion of you." Mary then angrily shouts, "James, do you really think I could ever forgive you for what you did?!" Mary then turns into a monstrous version of herself. After James kills Mary again, he meets Maria, and he tells her that "wasn't Mary", believing her to be an illusion. Maria coughs while they leave the town, implying that Maria may have Mary's illness, that James hasn't learned anything from his experiences in Silent Hill, and that the events that brought him there may repeat themselves. In all of the other endings, the woman who James has to defeat will be Maria instead of Mary.
- In the "Leave" and "In Water" endings, James is seen having a final conversation with Mary. In this conversation, James is able to resolve things with Mary and move on with his life. Mary says, "James... please do something for me. Go on with your life." Mary then gives James the letter that he never received.
- This scene in the "In Water" ending is a bit different. Instead of Mary telling James to go on with his life, she tells him that his suffering is enough of a punishment for what he did to her. "You killed me and you're suffering for it. It's enough, James." Mary then violently coughs, and James holds her hand as she dies. He sits silently for a few moments and then carries Mary's body out of the room. James believes he can't live without Mary and he suicides with Mary's body in his car, driving himself into Toluca Lake, saying, "Now we can be together..."
- In the "Rebirth" ending, James attempts to resurrect Mary, with unknown results, by rowing the boat he used to get to the hotel to the Church of the Rebirth on Toluca Lake Island.
- Both Mary and Maria are voiced by the same voice actor, alluding to their eerie similarity. Even James notes their similar voices when he meets Maria.
- Mary is voiced by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn in the HD Collection. McGlynn felt her voice was too deep to play Mary, but producers cast her anyway.
- There is a high chance Mary's outfit, along with Laura's, was inspired by a character in the movie Con Air.
- It is never explicitly stated what disease Mary had or how she obtained it. It was known to cause lumps on her skin and hair loss. It has been speculated to be a form of cancer or leprosy. Guy Cihi believes it to be melanoma. Silent Hill has had a history of illness, as Brookhaven Hospital was built in response to epidemics. It is possible that it is the same disease. It is likely that Mary obtained her disease before or during her vacation in Silent Hill as she is shown coughing in Lakeview Hotel. One supernatural theory is that Silent Hill cursed her. Another theory is that she lingered beside Toluca Lake too long which may have had contaminated water or mist due to the apparent 67 people who died of illness and "sleep beneath the lake". James states that he and Mary once stared at the water of Toluca Lake for an entire day.
- When James says that his wife Mary has been dead for three years as he originally believes, it could be referencing how when Mary was diagnosed with the terminal illness she was told she would only have three more years to live, at the maximum. If this is true, then James could symbolically be saying that after the diagnosis of the disease, his wife was dead to him.
- If the "In Water" ending is canon, the Rosewater Memorial may serve as foreshadowing of Mary and James' fate (although Mary more than James because she has a disease).
- Some fans theorized that Mary was a patient at Brookhaven Hospital; however, Masahiro Ito confirmed that this is false. Due to the connections to Rachel and Frank Sunderland, it is more likely that she stayed at St. Jerome's Hospital.
- When James discovers the radio, Mary's voice says, "James, I'm here. Come to me. James. I'm waiting for you. Why did you kill me? James..."
- Audio of Mary screaming when James watches the video tape were removed from the final version for unknown reasons. This could be due to the controversial subject of euthanasia, or Team Silent may have found Mary's screaming to be too excessive/extreme/disturbing and wanted a more subtle approach.
- Audio of Mary reading her letter to Laura were also removed from the final version for unknown reasons. Both this and Mary's screams through the pillow can still be found as unused audio files on the game's discs.
- It is ambiguous and unknown how much of the true "Mary" was actually in Silent Hill 2. For example, James receives radio messages from "Mary" and has a final conversation with a bedridden "Mary". The player can interpret these as Mary's true spirit or self, or merely hallucinations and manifestations.
- Masahiro Ito stated that most of the creatures' mouths in Silent Hill 2 represent Mary's insanity due to her terminal illness.
- Mary shares her maiden name with Alex Shepherd and, by extension, his family in Silent Hill: Homecoming. Both characters have brown hair.
- When asked about the relation in an interview, Tomm Hulett said that while he isn't entirely sure, he believes it is probably a coincidence. However, the story and character names were decided before Tomm joined Konami, so there is no clear definitive answer to this.
- In a promotional diary for Homecoming, Alex asks, "Was she related to me?".
- In Silent Hill 3, Mary is referenced by Heather Mason if the player has a Silent Hill 2 save file and examines the mailbox in the Daisy Villa Apartments. Heather says, "There's no letter... from a dead wife or otherwise. Well, I don't have one of those anyway."
- In Silent Hill: Shattered Memories's UFO Ending, James suddenly comes into the therapy room and asks Dr. Kaufmann if his appointment is today, only to discover it is tomorrow. Dr. Kaufmann mentions that he hasn't seen James's wife in a while. Then the scene abruptly changes and Cheryl Mason becomes Mira and Dr. K. becomes an alien. James can be seen hiding from Mary's/Maria's monster form (which is in the upper-left corner of the room) behind Dr. K's chair.