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Old 09-11-2012, 07:05 PM   #46
dudad
 
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my two cents

1. Esther was killed in a car crash.
2. Esther was pregnant (ultrasound and pictures of uterus and cervix in caves).
3. Paul is the narrator, and the driver of the car that killed Esther.
4. Paul is in a coma. At least one of the occupants in the other car had survived to call for emergency services.
5. Paul was without pulse for 21 minutes before being successfully defibrillated (those are defibrillation pads on the beach and there is a defibrillator altar).
6. Paul is in a coma because of the above.
7. The ghosts are memories, or previously deceased acquaintances.
8. The chemical symbols represent alcohol (the cause of the crash), dopamine and serotonin (neurotransmitters).
9. The circuit boards are the electrical equipment keeping him alive.
10. Attempting to die in-game results in rapid heart beat and being coaxed back to life (by the narrators self-will, a visitor?)
11. The island exists somewhere, but an altered reality and memory manifests as a limbo for his comatose brain.
12. The infection in his leg is from trauma from the motor vehicle accident.
13. He is fighting the infection to die in his own way, after he has made peace and accepted his fate. The journey through the caves, which would have been physically diifcult, is his struggle with this. The beach and candles on the other side are his farewells.
14. Note as he climbs the beacon, the light-at-the-end of the tunnel effect.
15. When he finally drops and transforms into a bird, he is having a near-death experience, liberated from the pain and the infection. It finally ends with the heart monitor giving a solid tone, and fade to black, the end of consciousness.
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Old 11-07-2012, 02:52 PM   #47
metzor
 
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I think the biggest point of confusion is whether or not there are multiple narrators. There is evidence for a variety of possibilities, but many times then a passage will completely rule something out (sometimes I think the narrator is Paul or Donnelly, but then there is a passage that refers to them in the 3rd person). Further complicating things is we cannot tell which narrator (if there are indeed multiple narrators) are reliable or not; they seem to mix and match identities. Examples:

Both the narrator and Donnelly had kidney stones-

Quote:
He left his body to the medical school and was duly opened out for a crowd of students twenty-one days after his passing. The report is included in my edition of his book. The syphilis had torn through his guts like a drunk driver, scrambling his organs like eggs on a plate. But enough definition remained for a cursory examination and, as I suspected, they found clear evidence of kidney stones. He is likely to have spent the last years of his life in considerable pain: perhaps this is the root of his laudanum habit. Although its use makes him an unreliable witness, I find myself increasingly drawn into his orbit.
Quote:
I had kidney stones, and you visited me in the hospital. After the operation, when I was still half submerged in anaesthetic, your outline and your speech both blurred. Now my stones have grown into an island and made their escape and you have been rendered opaque by the car of a drunk.
They both became addicted to painkillers while fighting off infections-

Quote:
He is likely to have spent the last years of his life in considerable pain: perhaps this is the root of his laudanum habit
Quote:
I am travelling through my own body, following the line of infection from the shattered femur towards the heart. I swallow fistfuls of painkillers to stay lucid. In my delirium, I see the twin lights of the moon and the aerial, shining to me through the rocks.
Now, the narrator and Paul also have things in common, suggesting they could be one in the same (except of course for the contradictions).

They both were chemists or had chemistry related careers:

Quote:
There were chemical diagrams on the mug he gave me coffee in; sticky at the handle where his hands shook. He worked for a pharmaceutical company with an office based on the outskirts of Wolverhampton. He’d been travelling back from a sales conference in Exeter: forming a strategic vision for the pedalling of antacid yoghurt to the European market. You could trace the connections with your finger, join the dots and whole new compounds would be summoned into activity
Quote:
There were chemical diagrams on the posters on the walls on the waiting room. It seemed appropriate at the time; still-life abstractions of the processes which had already begun to break down your nerves and your muscles in the next room. I cram diazepam as I once crammed for chemistry examinations. I am revising my options for a long and happy life.

Again, it's confusing because he clearly refers to Paul/Donnelly in the 3rd person, but then the narrator continually draws these similarities.

A few "conclusions" (quoted because they don't really answer anything), food for thought:

-Esther is dead, and the narrator (or one of the narrators) was her husband or someone very close to her.

Quote:
Of fire and soil, I chose fire. It seemed the more contemporary of the options, the more sanitary. I could not bear the thought of the reassembly of such a ruins. Stitching arm to shoulder and femur to hip, charting a line of thread like traffic stilled on a motorway. Making it all acceptable for tearful aunts and traumatised uncles flown in specially for the occasion. Reduce to ash, mix with water, make a phosphorescent paint for these rocks and ceilings.
Quote:
I returned home with a pocket full of stolen ash. Half of it fell out of my coat and vanished into the car’s upholstery. But the rest I carefully stowed away in a box I kept in a drawer by the side of my bed. It was never intended as a meaningful act but over the years it became a kind of talisman. I’d sit still, quite still, for hours just holding the diminishing powder in my palm and noting its smoothness. In time, we will all be worn down into granules, washed into the sea and dispersed.
Clearly describing someone who is deceased, and "I chose fire" meaning he was the one to make the decision to cremate her, only a husband or next of kin could make such a decision.

-Much of what the narrator describes is directly drawn from the scene of the crash. While lying in the wreckage looking up at he sky, he could hear the engine ticking, he could see gulls perched on a dented bonnet, he could see the moon and gulls roosting on an outcropping, he could see jets making vapor trails in the sky, the imagery of a shattered windshield dotting the road like a star studded sky.

-Paul, the narrator and Esther were in an accident, involving alcohol. The thing that gets me is whenever there is a reference to a drunk individual, it is always ambiguously defined with pronouns:

Quote:
He still maintains he wasn’t drunk but tired. I can’t make the judgement or the distinction anymore. I was drunk when I landed here, and tired too.
Quote:
My disease is the internal combustion engine and the cheap fermentation of yeast.
Quote:
Now my stones have grown into an island and made their escape and you have been rendered opaque by the car of a drunk.
Quote:
There is no other direction, no other exit from this motorway. Speeding past this junction, I saw you waiting at the roadside, a one last drink in your trembled hands.
Any of those quotes COULD be the husband talking to Esther about about Paul, and that seems to make the most sense. But could just as well be Paul talking to Esther or possibly someone else. And then to further confuse things, in the summary when the narrator is sleepwalking, he referes to Donnelly as the drunk:

Quote:
I am about this night in walking, old bread and gull bones, old Donnelly at the bar gripping his drink, old Esther walking with our children, old Paul, as ever, old Paul he shakes and he shivers and he turns off his lights alone.
-I think Jacobson/Donnelly and the island were real at some point in the past, but when you play Dear Esther nothing is real in the traditional sense. It is all a mix of memories and delusions of transcendence, as the narrator puts it.


Ok, sorry for the lengthy post. I know none of this actually gives anyone any answers but hopefully it provides some more fuel for discussion. And apologies if this is all super obvious and not helpful
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Old 01-30-2013, 01:47 PM   #48
chimpman252
 
 
 
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On another hand, the narrator could be a totally different character. Like a friend, or doctor, at Esther's side on her deathbed reading the notes aloud to her. This could explain the changes between 1st and 3rd person references of various characters, as sometimes this unknown character may be making his own interjections on the matters. It appears this character had a near-death experience as well, commonly referencing how he has visited the island himself.

BUUUUT that whole theory falls apart at the end of course, all the dialogue at the end doesn't really fit any theory.

Last edited by chimpman252: 01-30-2013 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 03-07-2013, 01:42 PM   #49
metzor
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chimpman252 View Post
On another hand, the narrator could be a totally different character. Like a friend, or doctor, at Esther's side on her deathbed reading the notes aloud to her. This could explain the changes between 1st and 3rd person references of various characters, as sometimes this unknown character may be making his own interjections on the matters. It appears this character had a near-death experience as well, commonly referencing how he has visited the island himself.

BUUUUT that whole theory falls apart at the end of course, all the dialogue at the end doesn't really fit any theory.
Another wrinkle I've found is, we can't even be sure who he is talking to. Yes, the passages that say Dear Esther, he's talking to Esther. However I came across this one in a reread of the script (I may be a little obsessed, sorry):

Quote:
I would leave you presents, outside your retreat, in this interim space between cliff and beach. I would leave you loaves and fishes, but the fish stocks have been depleted and I have run out of bread. I would row you back to your homeland in a bottomless boat but I fear we would both be driven mad by the chatter of the sea creatures.
I think he is unambiguously talking to the Hermit here. Whether that is a metaphor for something else, I can't tell.

Also:
Quote:
I threw my arms wide and the cliff opened out before me, making this rough home. I transferred my belongings from the bothy on the mount and tried to live here instead. It was cold at night and the sea lapped at the entrance at high tide. To climb the peak, I must first venture even deeper into veins of the island, where the signals are blocked altogether. Only then will I understand them, when I stand on the summit and they flow into me, uncorrupted.
Quote:
I find myself increasingly unable to find that point where the hermit ends and Paul and I begin. We are woven into a sodden blanket, stuffed into the bottom of a boat to stop the leak and hold back the ocean.
Does he think he is the Hermit here?



Also, unrelated, but I am trying to figure out what the symbolism of all the references of radio signals and transmission means.

Ex-

Quote:
They had stopped the traffic back as far as the Sandford junction and come up the hard shoulder like radio signals from another star. It took twenty-one minutes for them to arrive. I watched Paul time it, to the second, on his watch.
Quote:
I will become a torch for you, an aerial. I will fall from the sky like ancient radio waves of flawed concrete. Through underground springs and freezing subterranean rivers. Through the bacteria of my gut and heart. Through the bottomless boat and forgotten trawlers where nobody has died. Like the hermit and Lot’s wife, I will fossilise and open a hole in the rock to admit me through.
Quote:
When they graze their animals here, Donnelly writes, it is always raining. There’s no evidence of that rain has been here recently. The foliage is all static, like a radio signal returning from another star. In the hold of the wrecked trawler I have found what must amount to several tons of gloss paint. Perhaps they were importing it. Instead, I will put it to use, and decorate this island in the icons and symbols of our disaster.
Quote:
I walked up the cliff path in near darkness and camped in the bay where the trawler lies beached. It was only at dawn that I saw the bothy and decided to make my temporary lodgings there. I was expecting just the aerial and a transmitter stashed in a weatherproof box somewhere on the mount. It had an air of uneasy permanence to it, like all the other buildings here; erosion seems to have evaded it completely.
Ok, sorry for the digression again. I'm just confused, because the more I try to figure it out, the more disorienting and elaborate it seems to become.
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Old 03-31-2013, 09:37 PM   #50
fezlopez
 
 
 
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Did anyone see the picture of the little girl on the island? Thoughts on that?
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Old 11-28-2013, 12:49 PM   #51
7grain
 
 
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frago-roc View Post
I find there is evidence to suggest that Esther is dead and not in a coma.

(quote from game about fire and soil)

The narrator is the closest relative to Esther, probably husband as there is no mention of the wife mourning. In the above monologue he chose to cremate Esther as her body was destroyed in the wreck and preparing her for a regular wake would only be for the benefit of "tearful aunts and traumatised uncles."

I believe the player is a manifestation of the narrator's journey from guilt and blame to redemption and forgiveness.
In my version, Esther is in a coma, and the narrator (husband) knows that she won't recover. At the end, he's making preparations for her funeral (cremation, not burial) before he consents to have the plug pulled, or perhaps to keep him occupied in case she does not wake.

Some other thoughts I had after one playthrough:

The paper boats on the shore? The narrator spoke of making them (21 of them!) and setting them sail to go to her. He watched until they all sank, but here they are in Esther's coma-world, washed up on the shore. His armada did reach her.

As for ghosts... I saw a woman in the water in the first chapter, when crossing the stream to get to the first cave. She was laying in the stream, like King Arthur's "lady of the lake" is often portrayed. It was just a glimpse. When I turned back, she was gone. This may have been a trick of the shapes of the rocks, but after reading about others' ghost sightings.

I also saw the figure on the cliffs as you ascend to the arial tower, next to a candle. I spotted him from the beach, and then again as I was climbing the stairs. When I came around the rock to reach that candle, he was gone.

Thanks to everyone for posting their insights. I have appreciated reading them.
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Old 08-05-2015, 11:43 PM   #52
BoneShackles
 
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My Theory

Hey guys, I know I'm a little "late to the party" but I literally just finished this game and I have to say...wow. Just brilliant.

Just a few things I wanted to mention/say:
To me, as soon as I finished it, I viewed in that the player was the driver that was driving with Esther when she died. The island represents his mind/thoughts as he is in the hospital fighting for his life. Everything in it, the locations, the markings in the caves, the shrines, all represent things in his mind. They sort of manifest themselves in a landscape collage. The diagrams of chemical symbols of alcohol and the drugs he took, the drawings of nerve cells, the pictures, the Biblical verses painted on the landscape, representing his memory of that passage about Paul. The life of Jacobson manifested as a house and a place on the island. The scene when you are underwater and see the scene of the accident. When you go too far into water, you see flashes of the radio tower, a sort of foreshadowing to the future of his death.

Another thing is that on one of the beaches, there is a diagram of the Fibonacci sequence, Now, the number 21 is mentioned a few times in the narrative involving the time being technically "dead" (think Paul). The Fibonacci spiral corresponds to multiple sized tiles, the largest of which corresponds to the number 21.

I believe the entire journey of the game is this main character traveling through his mind as his brain goes through the process of dying. As he mentioned involving Paul, hallucinations and delusions. He ascends up the mountain, seeing his memories and thoughts along his journey as he heads towards the blinking light at the top.

I also believe that the letters to Esther may even be mainly metaphorical. It is quite possible that they don't represent real letters that he even sent and that they are thoughts of her and things he wants to say to her. The thoughts he has of her are manifested as letters, folded into boats that float in a sort of infinite ocean of his mind.

As he ascends the radio tower, he reaches the final stage of brain death and as he leaps off, he becomes a bird and flies off into the darkness, joining with Esther's "jet stream" and as we hear the final and long beep of the medical equipment and go into complete darkness, he passes away because of his infection(s).

Everything that the island is and the entire story take place in just a single event/instance in the real world.

You guys are very welcome to rip apart my theory(ies)! Thanks!
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