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 Post subject: Tablet of Oppresor (spoilers)
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Missing since: 04 Mar 2007
Notes left: 490
Hey, guys. I've been doing my first replay in forever of Silent Hill 2, and I've hit Toluca Prison. While picking up the Tablet of the Oppressor, the symbolism in the whole cell struck me. So I present to you some analysis I've done of the Tablet and the cell.

First off, here are links to screen caps of the cell, and the stuff I'll be talking about.

Part 1

An interesting note about the Tablet of the Oppressor. The tablet itself is inside a jail cell in Toluca Prison's south side. Many fans have debated the nature of the Tablet, and who it refers to, but have failed to consider some of the contextual clues that might help point to the purpose and thematic elements of the Tablet.

It is widely agreed upon that the Tablets refer in some way to the three characters actively traversing Silent Hill. However, the particulars of their association remain debated. In looking specifically at the Oppressor, we first have to examine where it is found.

As stated above, it has been found in Toluca prison, specifically in the 7th cell from the east entrance. The cell itself holds some interesting clues to the person associated with the Tablet, if we are to assume that the cell's contents are related to the placement of the Tablet.

There is a heavily Christian implication in the imagery of the jail cell, specifically Jesus's crucifixion and associated suffering.

And strangely enough, there is something of a reverse pieta on the wall opposite the tablet, where a Jesus-type figure holds the prostrate form of a nude woman. This is very telling, especially because in the Silent Hill 2 introductory video, there is a brief sequence of James carrying Maria's limp body from a jail cell.If based on this link alone, we can interpret this as the directors wanting to link James to the imagery of the Jesus figure in the cell.

Looking at some of the artwork more closely, we can make some simple observations that translate cleanly to James' own feelings.

In the first piece of artwork, we have a Jesus-figure carrying a cross-- clearly carrying carrying a heavy burden. This relates to James in many fashions; James' bearing the burden of his wife's illness, and suffering under the burden, as well as burdened by his own delusions.

The second and third pieces seem to be a companion work. In both, the Jesus figures arms are bound behind his back. In the second, he is kneeling and faces the other figure. In the third, the Jesus figure still kneels, but now with his back turned to the other figure. Now, the other form is poised either to jump upon the Jesus figure, or to strike the back of the figure. Both of these lend to an air of suffering and sustained abuse by the Jesus-figure, as well as helplessness and submission.

Considering later evidence gleaned in the game, we understand that Mary didn't always handle her disease in a healthy way. She often lashed out at James, both physically and verbally. James absorbed this, but rarely if ever fought back, unwilling to retaliate against his dying spouse. Considering James' own understanding of Mary's suffering and fear, linked to the images in the cell, we can understand James' view as submitting and suffering, but willingly. Unlike Angela, who had little recourse to escape the abuse leveled at her, James stayed with Mary through choice, just as Jesus chose to suffer. This isn't necessarily supposed to paint James as a saint, but it does help us understand what a collosal committment and sacrifice he felt he had made for Mary.

The fourth piece of artwork is the one previously mentioned, of the Jesus-figure holding what we can assume to be a woman, especially if we link it to the brief sequence in the intro sequence. This is less of a thematic piece, and more of a direct correlation to the imagery we see of James leaving with Mary. Based on the pictures alone, we cannot gain insight as to the ultimate plight of the woman; however, it is possible that we are meant to believe that the suffering the Jesus figure had undergone in the previous segments, it was not sufficient to save the figure he carries, if we are to associate the figure with the religious implications of the Jesus story.

This links well to James, since he even voices after the Brookhaven debacle that his efforts weren't enough to save Maria, in spite of everything. Again, this echoes even further, as he feels he hadn't done enough to help Mary during her own sickness.

Finally, we have the final image of the Jesus figure in the classic crucifixtion pose. The ultimate ending is self-sacrifice, to absolve sins and end suffering. But what exactly is James sacrificng? Clearly his own sense of security as an end to his delusions, as he constructed the delusions to cover the trauma of having killed his wife. Perhaps a sacrifice of his own safety of mind, as he later explains that he killed Mary in order to end her suffering, in spite of the enormous repurcussions it had on his own mind and soul. Of course, it increases his own suffering immeasurably, but at least it ended hers.

There is also perhaps a guilt aspect that can be read into the sequencing of the pictures. There is a crucial piece missing, in that we don't know for sure why the woman is dead. It is possible that the Jesus figure in fact killed the woman for lashing at him, and as penance sacrifices himself. This is something of a crude correlation, but also fits James' own admission of having killed Mary because he hated her and felt trapped. But as Mary points out, if this were really true, then James wouldn't be so distraught at having killed her. Therefore, the ordering and ommission is most likely left ambiguous, as to also account for the guilt James feels at having taken another person's life, especially someone he loved so much.

Finally, if we consider the setting, we gain another insight: a cell, in a prison. James feels he has been imprisoned by his choices, by his sacrifice and his suffering. A prison that is not easily left, as if you try to leave the cell, it takes several times before the door whill relinquish and let you out. James choice was not easily made, and cannot easily be dissolved or erased, or forgotten.

We also have to remember that the larger role of the Prison is also a chance for self- reflection. James is starting to take an honest look at himself, his deed, and his motivations. This abyss is associated with the Nietzche quote of, "If you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you." It's no surprise, that now that James has voluntarily started on the quest for self-reflection, that the abyss also surfaces some of James' own thoughts about himself, and shows it back to him.

On a last note, the Tablet itself depicts a Meso-American type line drawing of what appears to be a man pushing or hitting a kneeling woman.

A little research informs us that the figure is of an Aztec goddes called Tlazolteotl. She was a goddess of purification, sin/filth, and was a patroness of adulterers. She's also called "she of two faces". This all helps to coincide with the vaguely religious aspect of the cell's symbolism, but also helps us understand the subject of the Tablet a little more. These thematic elements further support the types of doubts and struggles both Mary and James felt during the past three years.
So who is the Tablet of the Oppressor?

Either James or Mary. Both of them.

Mary fits the role of the oppressor as seen in the imagery associated with the jail cell, but James' own guilt and desire for punishment casts him as an oppressor.

In short, there is no clear or easy answer for the Tablet, just like there is no clear or easy answer for James' ultimate motivation for killing his wife.

Even pairing the Tablet with the hangman's platform doesn't clarify matters; it could be that the characters associated with the Tablet are being punished for a crime, or if the Tablet represents the victim that the character is hanging for.

And in the end, it is much more explanatory if you don't settle for a concrete answer. The Tablets can represent both sides of the story: both the sin and the sinner, the crime and the victim. And in all of the cases of the characters, the lines are far more blurred than is comfortable. In the end, it's just the matter of making us think a little bit more deeply than just assigning blame or mercy where we want.


 Post subject: Re: Tablet of Oppresor (spoilers)
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Missing since: 09 Aug 2007
Notes left: 3634
Last seen at: Federative Republic of Butts
Fix'd that quadruple post for ya

THE RULES! [click me and learn]
"I think I'd prefer a sword over a penis anyday." - Wigeke
Mxpn - Restless Night (bandcamp)


 Post subject: Re: Tablet of Oppresor (spoilers)
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Missing since: 19 Jul 2003
Notes left: 19401
Last seen at: #lfk
The three tablets officially represent James, Angela and Eddie.

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