Literary Analysis of the Shining by Stephen King - Essay Example

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Harvey Mudd College
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The shining is a book written by Stephen King and was published in 1977. The book emphasized on several themes such as domestic violence and alcoholism. The main characters depicted in the book are Jack Torrance (alcoholic father), Danny (his son), and Wendy (his wife) among others. The book majorly focuses on the life of Jack who recovers from alcoholism while working at Overlook Hotel as an off-season caretaker. He later was influenced by supernatural forces, and he left his wife and son in great danger. This review analyses the main characters and the theme that is presented in the novel.

Jack, who is the main character is given a job at Overlook Hotel during the winter period. He aimed at finding a peaceful place away from alcoholism to finish his writing project. However, Jack had unusual character as he is always insane when left alone with his family. He severally threatened to kill his family and was always hallucinating of awful things in his life. Due to his temperamental nature, he was fired as a teacher and in some instance almost ended his marriage with Wendy (Ilisin, 2015).

However, the author in some stages portrayed Jack as somebody who embraced changes in his life. This is because he decided to give up drinking and drug abuse after injuring his sons arm in a blind rage. He further promised his wife to quit drinking and make efforts to salvage their family. Moreover, he dedicated most of his time to reestablish his career and finish his play.

Jacks son, Danny, also possesses a unique character presented by the author. Danny possessed telepathic abilities which enabled him to read peoples mind and experience premonitions. His actions in preventing her mother from leaving Jack at the hotel was controlled by a desire for family income for future sustenance. However, his frightening visions and seeing ghosts made him realize staying at the facility increases the strength of the supernatural activity (Dymond, 2015). This resulted to Overlook frustrating his fathers work and made him develop unusual characteristic.

Jacks wife, Wendy, was always abused by her husband. She was frequently beaten by Jack who often made her desire to leave the hotel. In one instance, he was attacked by Jack using the hotels hammers which forced her to lock herself in a nearby bathroom. Wendy experienced a series of family abused by her husband who was influenced by imaginary forces to kill her and Danny (Dymond, 2015).

The primary theme presented in the story is violence. This theme is engineered by Jack actions which aimed at eliminating his family when drunk and in cases where he is possessed by evil spirits. Violence is common in many instances as the Overlooks hotel feeds on violence. Jack has been battling violence in a better part of his life since he went through his fathers abuse and finally inherited his violent temper. Jacks family fought to remain happy despite series of violence that proved to be taking over Jack since he continuously threatened to destroy his life (Ilisin, 2015).

The author used various symbols and the perfect setting to portray the theme of violence. The use of visual images of ghosts which instigated the violence observed in the novel. Moreover, REDRUM is another symbol that is used extensively and is the reverse of MURDER. This symbol shows how violence was prevalent in the novel. Furthermore, the scenes mostly happened at the Overlook Hotel which is a perfect setting because it is a disserted place with horrific past.

Conclusively, this is an interesting piece of the story that sheds light about the negative impacts of drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence in the society.


Ilisin, M. (2015). Gothic Elements in Stephen Kings The Shining (Doctoral dissertation, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek. Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences), 65(2), 30-55.

Dymond, E. J. (2015). Objectivity and the Overlook: Examining the Use of Multiple Narratives in Stephen King's THE SHINING. The Explicator, 73(2), 124-128.


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