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|“|| Son... you still don't get it. It doesn't matter what you want. As for me, I got mail to deliver.
Full Circle (a term coined in Silent Hill: Downpour) is a phenomenon preventing a character from escaping Silent Hill's power (usually the Otherworld); this phenomenon often occurs after the victim fails to learn the "lesson" they may have been summoned to learn, being unable to realize something important they have forgotten, or making a critical mistake during their experience in the town. They are subsequently trapped in limbo or in a cycle-like fashion, either within the town itself, or an area under its influence.
This has often been done by major road blocks and roads, which should lead the way out of town, resulting in a void/abyss (possibly to nothingness), although Full Circle has been performed in other various ways.
Theories and analysis of Full Circle
It has been said that Silent Hill calls out to people with darkness in their hearts, summoning those with guilt. Because of this, the town of Silent Hill has been viewed by some fans as being similar to a therapist (albeit an extreme one) and wonder if the town is "sentient", which isn't necessarily a wrong opinion to hold. After all, a book mentions that those who once lived on Silent Hill's land believed the land contains "spirits" in the trees, rocks and water (Awinita could be viewed as such a spirit).
It is also possible that, as Ernest Baldwin says as well as James Sunderland in the Rebirth ending, the "The Old Gods haven't left this place. And they still grant power to those who venerate them." In other words, it could be thought that the deceased spirits or ancient deities are responsible for summoning those to Silent Hill and subsequently punishing them. However, part of the mystery of Silent Hill is not knowing how and why these supernatural events occur, and these are merely theories.
Full Circle is very similar to being in purgatory, a recurring theme in the series. Many instances prior to Downpour could be viewed as Full Circle-like, sometimes in which the word "purgatory" is explicitly used. Another heavy theme in the series is the concept of sins, which was explored in Silent Hill 2, since it could be thought that sins (or unrepented sins) are what traps people in a Full Circle.
The Full Circle seems to be in effect until the individual comes to terms with their past and repents, which could in turn set them free. For this reason, in Downpour, after Murphy was killed during his first attempted escape from Silent Hill by boat, he may or may not come to terms with his sins following his second chance at the journey (when he wakes up alive back in Silent Hill in the Overlook Penitentiary Otherworld. If he fails, he is drawn back into Silent Hill, and if he succeeds, he escapes for good.
During the "Full Circle" ending (as well as the first time Murphy wakes up in Overlook), Murphy is reminded of JP, Howard, and Bobby via the voices echoing in his head, as if Silent Hill is purposely bringing to attention that they suffered the same fate (likely to evoke Murphy's acceptance of his full guilt, which was unrealized at both points when this occurs). This would also explain this ending's reappearance of the Wheelman as confirmation that Murphy did not really deal with the aspect of his guilt the monster represents.
If these rules hold true, then by extension one may conclude that JP Sater may have experienced the same consequences after his suicide attempt as it did for Murphy, meaning he is likely still alive, being forced to prolong his suffering in the town until he accepts responsibility for his sins.
Additionally, if the Full Circle rule holds true for each game in the franchise, then it is very possible that many or all of the characters summoned to the town in past installments may be subject to this rule. In this case, summoned characters who remained unrepentant to their end in the series might also have come Full Circle - possibly not allowed to die, yet not entirely "living" either, as they still may be "alive" somewhere in Silent Hill.
Alternatively, it is possible that the town punishes the characters by trapping them within its borders permanently after leading them Full Circle. This is evidenced by the fact that some characters are never heard from again (in the Real World or otherwise) after dying in the Fog World or Otherworld by disobeying the town's rules. Howard Blackwood and Bobby Ricks appear to have been residing in the town's alternate worlds for quite some time without having been released or escaping, and these two seem to be knowledgeable of the town's "rules", or at least their interpretations of the "rules". There are several instances where characters attempt to escape the town and instead are forced to stay until an ultimate decision is made of whether or not the character is worthy of freedom. Beyond this ultimate decision however, it's unknown what their fate is.
Full Circle themes in the series
- Harry Mason - In the "Bad" ending, Harry is revealed to have died in the car crash in the beginning of the game, and it implies Harry's entire experience in Silent Hill was a dying dream or hallucination. This ending is obtained if Harry doesn't complete the Kaufmann sidequest and kills Cybil, which can be seen as vital mistakes. Although it can be assumed Harry isn't trapped in a cycle because he is dead, his death can be seen as punishment by the town for his errors, and Harry was unable to save his daughter and escape from the town.
- Silent Hill, on a first playthrough, will lead to one out of four possible multiple endings. Assuming the player is unaware of what the ending factors are, there is a very high probability of obtaining a Bad ending first in which the player never obtains the Aglaophotis and uses it on Cybil, or doesn't complete the optional Kaufmann sidequest. After obtaining any ending, the player can use their save to begin a "Next Fear Mode", in which Harry already awakens from his nightmare in the cafe with Cybil and comments he feels disoriented. One theory is that whenever the player begins a Next Fear Mode, Silent Hill is forcing Harry back to the beginning to start over, possibly as another opportunity for Harry to achieve a better outcome (i.e. a Good ending).
- Only the residents of the town which are connected to Alessa appear in the Fog World and Otherworld: Lisa Garland, Dahlia Gillespie and Michael Kaufmann. Dahlia, in particular, is responsible for Alessa's suffering. Lisa tells Harry that she feels she's not "supposed" to leave the hospital, and it is possible that Lisa is trapped in a Full Circle in the town.
Silent Hill: Play Novel
- Cybil Bennett - In Ending B-3, in Alchemilla Hospital, Cybil is about to enter a door with a blinding light inside. Cybil is temporarily blinded and when she refocuses her eyes, she is outside. She walks until she reaches a cemetery, where her grandparents are resting. Cybil sees many people in black, including her parents and her younger sister, the police chief of Brahms, her fellow officers and her co-worker Sally. Cybil attempts to communicate with them to no avail. Cybil notices her name engraved on a tombstone. She then notices Alessa, who softly whispers her name.
Silent Hill 2
- James Sunderland
- Room 109 of the Blue Creek Apartments will be inaccessible to the player until they complete certain things beforehand (meet Eddie, see Pyramid Head for the second time, retrieve the Snake and Old Man Coins, etc). Attempting to enter earlier will result in James saying that there is a "force" keeping him from entering, possibly implying that the town is sentient and wants James to achieve certain tasks before moving on.
- If James attempts to head back to the Observation Deck after Maria's death, the path becomes mysteriously blocked by a brick wall that wasn't there when James first entered the town. This may be because James hasn't realized the truth, and the town won't allow him to escape until he does.
- When James confronts Eddie in the meat locker, the door mysteriously slams shut locking James in, despite that Eddie isn't near the area. This implies that the town uses supernatural forces and may be sentient.
- James says, regarding Pyramid Head, "I was weak... That's why I needed you... Needed someone to punish me for my sins..."
- In the "Maria" ending, James asks Maria to be with him after realizing that he's killed Mary. As Maria and James leave Silent Hill, Maria coughs. She is becoming sick with the same symptoms like Mary's, and the events leading to James's imprisonment in Silent Hill could possibly repeat. The town refuses him satisfaction in escape for not being able to face the consequences of his actions; he chose to embrace a mere manifestation, the fantasy he craves to drown out his harsh reality and guilt.
- There are instances when the town seems self-aware of James's presence. A good example of this is the warning message to James in Neely's Bar.
- There are various moments when James becomes "trapped" in Silent Hill, such as in the Creeper room, at the bottom of the well, and inside a cell in Toluca Prison. At other times, there are moments where repetition is very notable. The first example of repetition is the extremely long walk to Silent Hill in the very beginning of the game. Later on, James descends an extremely long staircase which appears to never end. Before entering the Labyrinth, James must wait in a very long elevator ride. Final examples of repetition include the boat ride across Toluca Lake, as well as the extremely long hallway in which James listens to a conversation he had with Mary. All of these occurrences could be of symbolic that only by active participation, hope, and progression in order to be closer to the truth, can a person escape a "limbo", "cycle" or "Full Circle" situation.
- Maria - Maria paints a slightly complex case.
- Maria is killed multiple times, but is resurrected, likely because her role is still needed for James to realize his sin. Being born from James' wish, however, calls into question whether or not she, as a non-human entity manifested by the town, is herself capable of free will, and by extension even capable of being trapped in a Full Circle. Assuming she is just a placeholder with no will of her own, Silent Hill killing her would be like a puppeteer killing a puppet to make a point clear to his audience.
- Born in search of purpose from the very start in Heaven's Night, Maria may very well be trapped in her own Circle, though, if she does indeed have free will, the exact realization the town wishes to inflict upon her are vague. It could want her to come to terms with her own non-existence in order to help James realize the same, killing her repeatedly to make this clear to them both. Lines like "It doesn't matter who I am" would hint at her actively willing to fight this realization, and hiding the truth from James, prompting more attacks from Pyramid Head to correct the path.
- Eddie Dombrowski and Angela Orosco - Both are "sinners" who are "called" to Silent Hill for their crimes. The game evokes their sins using the three tablets and imagery of their graves. The Gallows Inscription says "I give you blood to atone for the Three Sins"
- The Extra riddle Secret of the Coins discusses sinners.
- The Patient's Diary tells the story of someone who is stuck in a hospital and is not allowed to go outside. It rains every day for 4 days. They ask if it's a sin to flee instead of fight.
- The Lady of the Door forgives sinners.
- The Spiral-writing Key has "'Tis doubt which leadeth thee to Purgatory" written on it, which could be interpreted as James being in a "purgatory" because he is uncertain, confused, and unsure about his quest for Mary. This implies Silent Hill is a purgatory.
- Ernest Baldwin and Amy Baldwin - Ernest and Amy Baldwin are presumably ghosts who have haunted the Baldwin Mansion for 10 years. Ernest tells Maria that if he could leave the mansion, he would, but he is unable. Maria helps Ernest realize the reason behind Amy's death, and delivers Amy's present, a birthday card and a pair of gloves to her father. After this deed is done, Ernest is seemingly able to move on.
Silent Hill 3
- Heather Mason - The whole game could be seen as a rehash/repeat/re-enactment of the first game, with Heather taking Harry's place. (See this section for a deeper understanding.)
- If Heather dies, Valtiel, God's attendant, revives her in a cycle-like manner of death, life and reincarnation by dragging her body back to the last Halo of the Sun. Regardless how many times Heather fails, she is always revived and is essentially caught in a cycle under the influence of the town's power.
- There are various circles Heather encounters throughout her journey, such as the Halo of the Sun, the Seal of Metatron, the valves Valtiel turns, the Happy Carousel, various fans, a wheelchair with its wheel spinning, etc. They represent ideas such as reincarnation, looping and time.
- Subway Ghost - Although it took place outside of the town of Silent Hill, it is implied by the magazine article that the ghost who haunts Hazel Street Station is unable to move on because he does not realize he is dead.
- Leonard Wolf - It is highly implied that Leonard is trapped in the Otherworld version of Brookhaven Hospital, possibly due to him once stabbing someone, as well as his child abuse of Claudia. It could be thought Silent Hill and its Otherworld is punishing him for his ways. Heather explores Brookhaven Hospital and is unable to locate him until she traverses to the Otherworld.
- The confessor asks God to "Deliver me not to Hell, but to Purgatory. Allow me to atone for my sins there."
- Man who prayed for Salvation and Woman who asked for Joy - According to the Order's beliefs, humanity existed before God. Here, people knew only pain and hatred, and there was no concept of time or death. "They despaired, stuck in the eternal quagmire." This can be seen as a Full Circle situation.
- Lisa Garland - According to developer Masahiro Ito, "Just before the shift to the Otherworld in the hospital, the nurse Lisa who appears in the first game can be seen. The purpose of including this is to show that Alessa's influence on the Otherworld grows stronger as she regains her memories. It indicates that even after the first game she continues to suffer in the Otherworld. Although a nurse appears in a similar fashion in the church as well, this does not have anything to do with Lisa." In the chapel, Heather can find bloody footprints and crying. The first time leads to an angel painting and the second time leads to Alessa's sickroom. It can be speculated this is Lisa's ghost or spirit leading Heather in the right direction.
Silent Hill 4: The Room
- Henry Townshend and/or Eileen Galvin - In the "Mother" ending, after the clip of Henry visiting Eileen in the hospital, Room 302 shows that it is still haunted, as it is covered in rust and blood like in the very beginning of the game. This may be due to the spirits still haunting the room since Henry failed to / didn't fully exorcise his apartment during the second half of the game, or Walter's spirit may have lived through that final battle and haunts with his victims, most likely creating the same event.
- Henry is shy, quiet, and displays a lot of hermit tendencies. No mention is made of any friends or family throughout the game, and even his neighbors only know him in passing. However, Henry's confrontation with Silent Hill and Walter Sullivan forces him into a situation where he must change his hermit-like lifestyle and leave the apartment, or die. Although the reason for Henry's predicament could be a simple coincidence for choosing the wrong apartment, it is also possible there were underlying causes for him to be attracted to Room 302 specifically, in the same sense that James, Eddie and Angela were "called" to Silent Hill. Henry has visited Silent Hill in the past to take photographs, and mentions feeling "attracted for some reason" by the way the town looked. The chain of events which led Henry to select Room 302 are unknown, however. If Henry examines his picture of South Ashfield Heights, he comments, "I almost felt like I was being drawn here."
- One theory is that Henry bought cursed shoes from Silent Hill - the shoes are one of the hauntings. If the player examines Henry's shoes, he makes some very questionable comments. He can't remember when and where he bought them. He then wonders if the shoes are really his. He then becomes sure he bought them in Silent Hill.
- Themes of the Full Circle may be represented by the never-ending Greedy Worm, and the circles connecting the worlds, the peepholes, and the Spiral Staircase. Henry is also forced to revisit the same Worlds twice.
Silent Hill: Homecoming
- Alex Shepherd - In the "Hospital" ending, Alex wakes up strapped to the same gurney in the Otherworld mental hospital where the game began. He is informed by one of the doctors that he will not be going anywhere until he can accept reality and responsibility for his actions, and electroshock therapy commences. The same concept applies in the "Drowning" ending, where he's being sacrificed by his father, who tells him that Joshua is still alive to be the family's successor. This could be because Alex did not learn from his experience in Silent Hill, and the charade he's been through was merely a dream conjured by himself.
- Shepherd's Glen has fallen under God's wrath. It is perpetually foggy and many roads leaving out of town are blocked. Attempting to leave the town through a foggy section of the main road will result in Alex ending up in the same place. Margaret Holloway mentions that "You know how it is. No one ever leaves this place."
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
- Cheryl Heather Mason - A Full Circle-like ending conversation, "Hero Forever", exists between Cheryl Mason and her father; instead of giving up the false memories of him she so desperately clings to, she consciously chooses to deny the truth and remain in delusion, the exact opposite of the aim of her therapy. Much like James Sunderland in Silent Hill 2's "Maria" ending, she tries to block out reality by living in the company of a psychological manifestation.
Silent Hill: Downpour
- Murphy Pendleton - During his attempted escape from Silent Hill, Murphy disregards Anne's warning about running from his responsibilities in Silent Hill and refuses to return to the town. For this, Anne shoots him; Murphy then wakes up alive back in Silent Hill, forced to traverse a nightmarish Otherworld presumably as a result of his running. In the "Full Circle" ending, should he reject the truth of his full monstrosity, Murphy shoots himself and is killed a second time. He wakes up alive in Silent Hill for a third time, revealing that if he keeps refusing the chance to come to terms with his sins, he is likely doomed to repeat the same nightmare until he does.
- Howard Blackwood - Howard Blackwood has been delivering mail in Silent Hill for over a century; the exact reason he deserves this fate remains undisclosed. In Past Life, Howard mentions killing someone in self-defense, but considering that he too is forced in coming Full Circle, the exact truth of this statement is questionable. It is possible that his case is similar to JP's: having committed a crime that he denies admitting guilt for.
- John Sater - The morally negligent JP Sater, before his suicide, tells Murphy either "See you around;" or sarcastically "Enjoy your stay;" this could possibly indicate awareness of his own persistent denial and resultant coming Full Circle. The first issue of Anne's Story confirmed that Sater's ghost remains in Silent Hill after his suicide.
- Bobby Ricks - The comment under Bobby Ricks's photo in the Main Menu Gallery reads that his cowardice was the reason he was stuck inside the radio station. He had a plan to get out, but lacked the courage to do it on his own, instead calling for help over and over through the radio. Because of taking this pitiful path, he was trapped in Silent Hill, coming Full Circle indefinitely unless he got up the courage.
- Anne Marie Cunningham - In the final battle, should Anne succeed in killing Murphy and embrace vengeance ("Reversal" ending), she wakes up as a prisoner in Murphy's cell, and is informed by Murphy (now a Ryall State corrections officer) that she is about to be transferred to Silent Hill, indicating that she must endure another journey there.
Silent Hill: The Arcade
- Hanna - Hanna has been dead for 75 years, and she still haunts the town in a limbo-like fashion, presumably a ghost or manifestation because of the unresolved trauma she experienced due to her mother drowning her. In the Good ending, Eric and Tina defeat the Phantom and Hanna realizes that her mother did truly love her, presumably freeing her soul from the town.
- Jack Stanton and Jillian Conway - Sara Linwood, even though she was murdered in the past, returns as a manifestation and refuses to let Jack and Jillian leave until they both accept "redemption" through death. No matter how far Jack runs, Sara always catches up to him. This may be a result of the town refusing to leave Jack and Jillian leave until they both accept their fate, with Sara acting as the messenger.
Though it is unknown whether or not the game takes place in the town of Silent Hill (and if P.T. could even be considered a canon Silent Hill installment), it appears that the never-ending hallway refuses to let the protagonist leave, as he is trapped in a loop. Every attempt to open the exit door brings him back at the entrance of the hallway, unless he solves a series of puzzles. Why the hallway refuses to free the protagonist, and what it wants him to realize is unknown as well.
Silent Hill film series
In the film series (which is set in a separate canon continuity from the games), Rose and Cybil become trapped in Silent Hill. Rose is allowed to leave once she completes Alessa's revenge on a cult. The cult was also trapped in Silent Hill and punished for burning Alessa.
In the sequel, a cult is still trapped in Silent Hill, presumably for similar reasons.