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 Post subject: Pyramid Head and Maria: James' mind at war with itself.
     
         
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Missing since: 15 Apr 2004
Notes left: 11052
Last seen at: In the anals of forum history
This thread has SPOILERS, but the title should have made this abundantly clear. Don't blame me if you read on having not finished the game.

Note: This is the thread formerly known as "The Bad-Rap Theory: Pyramid Head is not a punisher, but a savior". It was posted in 2006 and I've decided to update and revise, mostly because I have come to understand that Maria is just as important to the scenario as Pyramid Head. It's much longer than the original post, as I wish to expand upon and clarify my original point.

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The popular theories of Pyramid Head usually consist of the following:

A). He's an executioner, a metaphysical construct borne of guilt that James unconsciously manifests to torment and punish himself for his crime. This is the most commonly-accepted version, mostly because it appears in official literature with the greatest frequency.

B). He's a symbol representing James' repressed sexual urges, acting out by raping monsters.

C). He's the servant of some higher-power, tormenting James for his master's diabolical purposes.

Regardless, the consensus is that Pyramid Head is the general villain of the game. This is understandable, because, after all, he does appear to be hunting James, tormenting him and trying to cause him bodily harm, and reminding him of his crime by slaying Maria over and over.

This is where I diverge.

Pyramid Head and Maria have a common point of origin, that being James' subconscious. Maria, obviously, is Born From a Wish. Pyramid Head seems to be Born From a Desire For Punishment. The common view is that one of the ways Pyramid Head exacts this punishment upon James is by slaughtering Maria every chance he gets. It happens blatantly twice, and a third time it is very easy to assume, and it's happening because the r.p.t. intends to remind James of what he did, and make him feel pain for it as punishment.

I disagree.

What is really going on is that a battle is raging inside of James' head, and thanks to the mystical power of Silent Hill and its resultant Otherworld, James has the misfortune of seeing this battle unfold in what appears to be live-action. Pyramid Head and Maria both represent divergent aspects of James' psyche, and in the end, only one of them can win.

Maria, we are told, represents the ideal Mary, the Mary James could not have once her illness began to ravage her body and ruin her moods. She is sharp-tongued and sexy. She remembers a lot of things only Mary should, by all rights, know. She seeks closeness with James.

But, if Letter From Silent Heaven has a true villain, Maria is it.

It would be too simplistic to slap labels like Good and Evil on either r.p.t. or Maria, and in no case would they really be appropriate. Neither is, after all, an independent entity. It is more accurate to attribute them to James' eventual outcome of the Silent Hill experience.

James is delusional. Little of what he sees has any strong connection to objective reality. This is because little of what he thinks has any strong connection to objective reality. Mary did not die three years ago, and it wasn't her disease that directly caused her death. By the end of the game, we're very aware of the truth: James killed Mary. In truth, until we know this, we cannot really understand what either Maria or the r.p.t. are really about. This is why Pyramid Head has the reputation of a punisher. With James ignorant of his deed, Pyramid Head's frequent assaults on him and Maria make little sense, and Pyramid Head would appear to be little more than another of the monsters he encounters, though obviously much more powerful and determined. James has little luxury to spend on analyzing the monsters he sees. He's too busy trying to stay alive and follow his letter to its destination. This extends to us playing the game. We have to wait until later to figure everything out, so we make our assumptions.

But while Pyramid Head does dole out some physical punishment to James, that is not his overriding purpose. He's not there to punish James. He's there to enlighten. Pyramid Head, in the town's ethos, was more of the Order's symbolism. Many believe that his appearance hearkens to one of their pantheon, though few agree on which and I'm not sure I buy it anyway. It is from this source that the Toluca Lake executioners designed their outfits, and their deeds have ensured that the imagery has manifested within Silent Hill ever since.

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If you play Silent Hill 2 and pay careful attention, you'll notice that James can encounter the red pyramid thing on eight separate occasions:

1. Woodside Apartments, second floor hallway.
2. Woodside Apartments, Room 307
3. Blue Creek Apartments, Stairwell
4. Brookhaven Hospital, Roof
5. Brookhaven Hospital, Basement
6. Catacombs
7. Catacombs again (in two separate locations)
8. Lakeview Hotel

Pyramid Head serves as the game's penultimate boss battle, and recurs several times again as shown above. Yet, in only three of these encounters does Pyramid Head actually assault James (3, 4, 8). In the first two encounters, the red pyramid thing does not actively threaten James at all (in fact, it is James who attacks Pyramid Head first, in the 307 encounter, though you can't really blame him for doing so). In the hospital Basement, Pyramid Head targets Maria exclusively, and will only harm James if he gets in the way. While in the Catacombs, there are two different locations where Pyramid Head lurks. They are looping areas, and Pyramid Head is essentially patrolling. It is worthy to note that if James does not stand in Pyramid Head's path, Pyramid Head will not attack. He will simply continue on and ignore James, even if they are within eyesight of each other.


Pyramid Head does attack James on the Hospital roof. However, there are two things about this that suggest that it's not an act of sheer aggression:

* Pyramid Head pulls his punch:
He catches James by surprise and has him trapped. If Pyramid Head wanted James dead, it would have happened right there. Note that he swings his weapon in the non-lethal manner (as opposed to the instant-kill overhead chop).

* James benefits from the encounter:
The attack causes James to fall off the roof and through the ceiling, landing in the Confinement Ward. It is essential that he visit this place, and were he not to fall through the ceiling, he could not access it any other way.

The first battle encounter, in the Apartments, do show Pyramid Head in open aggression against James. It is the only time he can kill James instantly (with the Great Knife), and it happens before James really has any idea what's going on. Yet, the battle concludes when Pyramid Head leaves of his own volition. If James waits long enough, he does not even have to attack. The battle will end on its own (though it takes much longer). This again suggests that punishment is not Pyramid Head's primary purpose. Time means nothing to such a being. He could have extracted it all right there if he wanted to. There was, after all, nowhere for James to run.

Finally, there is the final battle, in which two Pyramid Heads tag-team James in the Hotel. The presence of the second r.p.t. is often attributed to the fact that, by now, James has killed two people. I don't buy this, exactly. I'm still not entirely sure what meaning exists behind the second manifestation, but I think there are two because James has, by this point, remembered what he did, and the guilt that only simmered before has now finally boiled over.

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Before I go further, there is one other thing about Pyramid Head that is rather characteristic in this game: He kills Maria. A lot. You see it happen twice and a third instance is heavily inferred. And this is where Pyramid Head's real purpose comes into play.

Maria is the doppelganger of James' dead wife, Mary. She is mysterious, knows things that she has no business knowing, and has a strange knack for dying and not staying dead. She knows James' name without him ever mentioning it to her. She knows about Laura. She knows about the Lakeview tape. She knows these things because she can harness Mary's knowledge. In some ways they are the same person. But while Mary is depicted as kind and loving, Maria often treats James with scorn and anger, and in one particular moment of weakness for James, she intentionally screws with his head, seizes his confusion and purposefully makes it much worse.

Pyramid Head personifies guilt. But James does not understand the guilt because he is trapped in a delusion. Until he reaches Room 312, James has no idea he has any reason to feel guilty. Maria personifies this illusion. She acts against James in subtle ways, trying often to divert him from his goal of finding Mary. By the end, she states outright that she intends to replace Mary, to be everything for James that he has wanted, and that Mary was unable to give him. She is a delusion, the central delusion, made manifest in the same way the r.p.t. is.

Pyramid Head's real purpose is to make sure James realizes what he has done, to make sure that he ends his own delusions and understands the truth. Maria serves as a direct counter to this influence. In the Maria ending, James has fallen victim to his delusions and decides that they are preferable to the harshness of reality, and by doing so damns himself. The Maria ending is the only ending that cannot be construed as positive in any way. The Maria ending occurs if Pyramid Head fails at his task.

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Though Pyramid Head does serve as a sort of punishing mechanism for James, he also acts as a guide of sorts, and his advice is simple and often-repeated:

KILL MARIA.

Pyramid Head does this three separate times. She does not stay dead in any of them, however, because James must do it himself for it to mean anything. The r.p.t. can only show him what to do. It cannot do it for him.

If you notice, almost everything that Pyramid Head does acts to ensure that this takes place. Sometimes it's very subtle, and sometimes he's blatantly acting out his advice, but in all ways, Pyramid Head is making every effort to keep James on the right path:

* When James witnesses the rape scene take place in Room 307 (acting out aggression on creatures of James' delusion), the eventual result is that James finds a key he must have to proceed.

* When he attacks James in Blue Creek apartments (after acting out on other creatures of James' delusion), it's not out of malice. It's because Maria awaits James very close by, and Pyramid Head is attempting to stand between them, a sort of test of James' will. If James falters, he dies. If he stands firm, he passes. Pyramid Head moves slowly, so James can only fail if he isn't careful. James meets Maria after this, and and once he does, Pyramid Head never attacks any other monsters ever again. The regular monsters are elements of his delusion, but none are stronger than Maria.

* When Pyramid Head knocks him off the roof, it ends up being a blessing in disguise.

* In the Hospital Basement, Pyramid Head gives James his first taste of what Maria has coming.

* In the Catacombs, as mentioned, Pyramid Head will only attack if James gets in his way. Furthermore, if you take the most direct route through this area, you'll never even see Pyramid Head. You have to go out of your way to encounter him. He's simply keeping you focused on your true path. You are, after all, close to the end by this point.

* Finally, there is the final encounter with the twin r.p.t.s in the Hotel. By this point, James knows that he killed Mary himself. Now, the delusion is beginning to unravel. It is now that the Pyramid Heads tell James, one final time, that his nightmare cannot ever end until he puts an end to Maria. James says at this point "I know the truth. Now it's time to end this." He understands now that Maria is his enemy. He also has come to the point where the Pyramid Head is no longer required, so James must put an end to them (note that they put up less of a fight than the single Pyramid Head does in the Apartments. The Pyramid Heads eventually break away from James and skewer their own throats, an important gesture: They understand that their services are no longer required. It is after this that James encounters Maria for the final time, knowing what is real and what isn't, and ready finally to shatter his own haunting illusions once and for all.

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Maria, as stated before, is Mary's doppelganger. Similar in appearance, very different in attitude. She comes into being unaware of what she really is, coming into her knowledge over the course of the side-game Born From a Wish At first, she seems to be just a luckless young woman caught up in Silent Hill's apparent madness, but right from time James meets her, her behavior is inappropriate to the situation. It is she who points James to the Lakeview Hotel, and together they set off in search, though are ultimately diverted into Brookhaven Hospital. Here, she dies her first death at the hands of the red pyramid thing. We see and hear nothing from her until James is deep in the Catacombs, where we find her alive and well, much to our surprise. She makes no attempt to explain her presence, and is either unaware of her apparent death or lying about it. And when James tries to question her further, we see that her manner has changed considerably. She is no longer the scared and vulnerable woman we see in Rosewater Park and the Hospital. Now, she is reciting memories she cannot possibly know. Now she is enticing James with the implied promise of sexual favors. And when James finally reaches her, she is dead once again.

When next they meet, Maria is suspended upside-down on a rack, seconds away from one of two r.p.ts. impaling her on a spear. They do this without preamble.

And we meet her yet again just moments later, alive and well again, though now she has taken on Mary's appearance not in suggestion but in totality. Her overtures to James are refused, because now James knows what's going on, and she transforms into a hideous demon in an attempt to kill James.

Maria is James' delusion made manifest. She is born from his wish to have Mary once again, alive and vivacious. All of the game's outcomes involve James learning the truth about Mary, though in one of them, James decides that the delusion is preferable to reality and embraces it. This is the Maria ending. This is what Pyramid Head is designed to prevent. This is the game's Bad Ending.

In this scenario, Pyramid Head has failed. James' desire to embrace his madness is so powerful that he overwhelms them in their final combat, and when he continues forth, it is not Maria but Mary who attacks him. Symbolically, James finally eradicates Mary from his mind when he defeats the monster in her form. He has learned the truth but opts to purge all of those painful memories forever and continue with the alternatives that Silent Hill seems to offer. Of course, we are left with the impression that even if James and Maria do manage to exit Silent Hill, their life together is destined to follow the same tragic path as happened with Mary.

Maria represents James' attachment to the lies he tells himself. This is understandable. The thought of his wife succumbing to disease is much more palatable than the knowledge that he ended her life himself. Even the very letter that drew him here is a lie. He is in Silent Hill to ultimately either dispel his delusions or surrender to them. In all endings but Maria, he opts for the former.

Maria herself is not 'evil', just as Pyramid Head is not 'good'. They are simply chess pieces designed to bring about one of two outcomes. James following Maria does not mean that he is literally lusting after his wife's doppelganger. It means that he does not truly wish to know the truth, and is willing to ignore it once he does know. It means that James really did want Mary out of his life, because in this scenario he is definitely most willing to move on. If he does not, and she ends up attacking, it is simply James taking the final step to rid himself of the deception for good, lest it overtake him in spite of his revelations.

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If you stuck with me this long, thanks and congrats. I hope I've broadened your horizons a bit, and now you have a better idea of the tremendous depth and complexity that even secondary characters are given in Silent Hill 2.

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Last edited by Ryantology on 15 May 2009, edited 2 times in total.

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Cafe5to2 Waitress
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Missing since: 20 Mar 2006
Notes left: 267
Last seen at: Brookhaven Hospital
Wow. Thats it. I'm having your children. I dont care what St. Thomas says. You said basically what I have been trying to say about PH all the time.

You just beat me to it.

Man..I gotta stop taking pictures and write mini essays on PH instead.

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We live like vampires...we love like killers...we all die like infants, and we trust like mirrors.
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It's the pain and the sex disguised as innocence....slow suicide. Like it or not, its what we do.


Thanks Dish01 for my sig and avi.


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RESPECT
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Missing since: 19 Jul 2003
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>I dont care what St. Thomas says.
Okay... I've been saying that too.

Thanks for the post, Ryan. We should make a collection of "STFU" threads.

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This post is the property of its author and is not to be used elsewhere without explicit permission from the author.

. . . AND THAT'S THAT.


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Cafe5to2 Waitress
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Missing since: 20 Mar 2006
Notes left: 267
Last seen at: Brookhaven Hospital
St. Thomas wrote:
>I dont care what St. Thomas says.
Okay... I've been saying that too.

Thanks for the post, Ryan. We should make a collection of "STFU" threads.



I meant that in nothing but love St. Thomas.
You know me. <333 I just hate that you are right 99.9% of the time ;)

_________________
We live like vampires...we love like killers...we all die like infants, and we trust like mirrors.
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It's the pain and the sex disguised as innocence....slow suicide. Like it or not, its what we do.


Thanks Dish01 for my sig and avi.


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Just Passing Through
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Missing since: 29 May 2006
Notes left: 40
May I also bear your children?

Seriously now, I like your take on this.

I'm curious though, what does Pyramid Head think of the In Water ending? [spoiler]I mean, yes, James has discovered and defeated the true evil he faced in Silent Hill (excluding himself), but he then kills himself which pretty much ruins whatever PH was trying to accomplish. [/spoiler] Your thoughts?


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Missing since: 15 Apr 2004
Notes left: 11052
Last seen at: In the anals of forum history
Pyramid Head's concern is dispelling James' illusion. Nothing more. After that's done, it's all in James' hands. In three of the four endings, that is accomplished, even though all three endings diverge pretty wildly.

And yes, you may all bear my children. I've got plenty to go around. Just don't drag me on Maury five years from now. =D

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Woodside Apartments Janitor
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Missing since: 29 May 2006
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lol crazy shyt bro and not stupid 8) they shuld be telling about PH during philosophy studies, no doubt about it. Best thing is to sneak upon PH lair while he is on a small walk and steal his Great Toy and then finish him with it at the final battle, I wonder what he felts then??? :mrgreen: zipped from behind, j/k anyway


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Gravedigger
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Missing since: 26 Apr 2006
Notes left: 484
Last seen at: Purgatory. Neither Heaven nor Hell will accept me to their Kingdom Gates.
So PH is just the helping hand, who is there to show James the truth and what he needs to do so he can face the truth and hopefully get on with his life.
Maria is the one who is holding James back from the truth, forcing him to live in this hell called Silent Hill.
That is some deep shit man.

(Did I sum it petty well or did I just sound like a jackass)

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Some walk on the path of Dark

I shall walk on both paths.

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Cafe5to2 Waitress
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Missing since: 15 Jul 2003
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Whether you view it as help or punishment is completely a matter of perspective. I view the saviour/tormentor role as being one in the same thing. Obviously because we literally control the deluded James throughout the game PH's efforts to force him into complete knowledge of what he did is usually described as being a punishment or torment. In the end it's probably the best thing for him though.

It's like forcing someone to confront their experience of sexual abuse or some such. Chances are, in their state of denial, they're going to lash out at those around them as tormenting them, when the ultimate goal is assistance.

I give credit where it is due for a solid expression of this idea though. Well done.

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Historical Society Historian
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Missing since: 05 Jul 2005
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Very good explanation, I thought about that too as an answer for their suicide, after James realising that he was lying to himself, but I never put to much thought on it (as usuall).

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 Post subject:

great theory! ^^ i think it makes perfectly sense :)
i would go on and say "May I also bear your children?" as the others, but i really don't like diaper changing... :|


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Just Passing Through
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Missing since: 23 May 2006
Notes left: 25
Last seen at: Casper WY
Wow... I really don't see it. Sorry but PH as just a demon running around Silent Hill to me. Nothing more nothing less. And thats how I like to see him. Going into all of that takes away, FOR ME, the scary factor that is PH.

But he's not someone I would want to run into. Thats for damn sure! So no matter how you see him we both agree he's one bad boy! ^_^


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 Post subject:

hehe, it is actually nicer to look at him as a mean fellah *l* :mrgreen:
which make me scream each time i see a nurse or anything ells, fearing it's him :(


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Just Passing Through
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Missing since: 23 May 2006
Notes left: 25
Last seen at: Casper WY
LOL I was the same way when I first started! OMG PH scared me to death! My boyfriend laughed cause I was so sacred i Had to leave the room!


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*l* well i'm not really that scared, but my heart skips some beats tho :mrgreen:
or it's beating just as fast as it would if it was real :(


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My Bestsellers Clerk
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Missing since: 22 Apr 2006
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DUDE!!1!11!!!!!...I want your sexy bod...Ok sorry, but yeah, that is a really great theory. Nice man.



Bettie Bloodshed wrote:
St. Thomas wrote:
>I dont care what St. Thomas says.
Okay... I've been saying that too.

Thanks for the post, Ryan. We should make a collection of "STFU" threads.



I meant that in nothing but love St. Thomas.
You know me. <333 I just hate that you are right 99.9% of the time ;)



Hmm...That's funny, I always thought that he was right 100.0% of the time...But hey, that's just me.

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Just Passing Through
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Missing since: 01 Apr 2006
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Aww, I'm not even legal yet D:

Wow, that was just... That brought a tear to my eye. I believe you are exactly right. He's one of those misunerstood guys, like the Grim Reaper. Pyramid Head doesn't exist just to kill and rape, he causes that pain for a reason. James HAS to deal with those emotions, and the things he has done. But what am I saying? You already said it all! Way to put your thoughts into context, too.

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 Post subject:

hmm nice thought and that might indeed be true :D
though I like PH allot more then a big sword manica meany then a goody goody


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Just Passing Through
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Missing since: 23 May 2006
Notes left: 25
Last seen at: Casper WY
Chibi wrote:
hmm nice thought and that might indeed be true :D
though I like PH allot more then a big sword manica meany then a goody goody


AMEN :D

Spam...you should really add more to this post


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Moderator
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Missing since: 15 Apr 2004
Notes left: 11052
Last seen at: In the anals of forum history
Considering him a 'good guy' isn't entirely accurate. He's just doing what needs to be done. Forcefully. Like, how a doctor might have to break your bone in order to allow it to heal properly later.

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