Angela, the very first character James (the playable character) encounters, has a very hard to follow way of speaking, often apologizes for this, and is incredibly nervous in every scene she is in. Though she is an adult, she acts extremely childish, telling James that she’s in Silent Hill to look for her “mama” and repeatedly asking if he has seen her, like a small lost child.
Much later in the game, James encounters Angela curled up in the corner of an extremely unsettling room with holes in the walls being rhythmically filled by hydraulic presses. Before entering the room, the player hears Angela cry “No, Daddy, please don’t!” (Konami 2001). The player then enters into a fight with a monster called the “Abstract Daddy” a fleshy mass which vaguely resembles two figures on a bed. Once Abstract Daddy is killed, Angela, almost throwing up, states that she was abused by her father, never stating, but inferring that this abuse was sexual in nature. Though James saves her from the monster, Angela is distrustful of James, afraid and paranoid that he wants what she says “all men want” and gets away from his as soon as possible.
The last time James encounters Angela is on a staircase which seems to be on fire. At first, Angela is delusional, thinking James is her long lost mama and quickly approaching him, grabbing his face and smiling for the very first time. After realizing that James is not, in fact, her mother, she apologizes quickly and says that she wishes James hadn’t saved her, stating that even her mama said that she deserved what happened to her. She states that she doesn’t deserve Jame’s pity, then mockingly asks if James plans on fixing her by loving all her problems away. After this, she begins to leave, but when James mentions the fire, she turns back saying “You see it too? For me, it’s always like this.” She then walks deeper into the flames, never to be seen again (Konami 2001).
Angela is childlike, paranoid, suicidal, and clearly suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. She is important historically as she is a mentally ill character in horror video game, and yet she is incredibly sympathetic. At no point in the game is the player meant to be disgusted by or afraid of Angela. The player is meant to want to protect her, fight her monsters and keep her safe. When Angela is afraid she might hurt herself, she asks James to take her knife away, and when she asks for it back on the flaming staircase, James refuses. Angela is a character that the player is meant to want to see happy, however, this can never be. Though Angela’s character breaks ground in being sympathetic, she is not so revolutionary that she is given a happy ending. Angela will never recover, she will never find her mama, she will always be consumed by the fire, and she will never escape Silent Hill or the monstrous forms that her memories have taken.
The fact that Angela is portrayed as very childish is of note as well, for, as in Elizabeth Rider’s 1994 article “Media Portrayals of People with Handicaps: Does Accuracy Matter?” states, the most common portrayal of disabled characters who are meant to be seen as sympathetic are ones who constantly need help or need to be saved. Rider discusses television of the 1950s through the 1970s and states that though television shows did have disabled characters, they were often shown to be submissive, dominated by their disability, their lives totally revolving around their disability, their entire character boiled down to their disability, the butt of jokes, often ridiculed, and dependent on others (Rider, 86). Rider mentions a study she herself conducted in which with 200 people were asked about popular movies and television shows with disabled regular or main characters. Despite these shows and films possessing all of the aforementioned traits, over half of the participants stated that these were positive portrayals of disability (Rider, 87). So it is with Angela, who needs James’ help frequently, whose dominating character trait is her disability, and is still an attempt at a positive portrayal of a disabled character within the game.