She is nearly identical to James's late wife, Mary, in almost every physical aspect, although her appearance and personality are more sexually extroverted. Maria is a very enigmatic character and could be seen as some sort of reincarnation or ghostly form of Mary, as a supernatural, and possibly sinister creature of unknown origin, or some combination of these. At times, she seems to possess Mary's memories.
James is both attracted to Maria and fearful of what she might represent, and he struggles to understand her. Maria appears to be a manifestation created by James's desperation to see Mary again and fill the void of Mary in James's life.