The third novel that Stephen King published was The Shining. Many critics and readers consider The Shining to be one of King’s best works ever. It was written just as King’s rise to fame as a horror writer was beginning. This book, is in the typical style of fantasy horror that King is known for. It takes place in the 1970’s at The Overlook Hotel up in the mountains near Sidewinder, Colorado. This book typically appeals to teenagers. The themes of the book include extrasensory powers, child abuse, spousal abuse, self abuse, and substance abuse. The primary theme is that which is in many horror stories: evil or pain remains even when its object is long dead.
The story centers around Jack Torrance. He is the father of Danny, who has “the shinning” and husband of Wendy. Jack takes a job as caretaker of Overlook hotel while it is closed for the winter. Jack is a dry drunk and the cabin fever in this haunted hotel gets to him. He is both a devoted father and an alcoholic homicidal maniac. He has a complete psychotic break and attempts to kill his family. We are told early in the book, by Dick Hallorann, that at least one previous caretaker also went mad in this job. Hallorann’s fears are soon justified. The hotel quickly begins to exert a malevolent influence over the Torrance family. The story climaxes with Jack trying to kill his family with a mallet. The results of the much noded movie are a bit different than that of the book, but I am not going to tell you here how it ends.
This book was conceived as a contemporary version of classical tragedy. It contains all the traditional tragic elements. That is, it is in a restricted setting, has a small cast of characters, the protagonist has a fatal flaw, and there is an unrelenting sense of impending doom throughout the story.
Stephen King wrote this book while staying at the Stanley Hotel, which Overlook is based on. He wrote it in 1977. Three years later Stanley Kubrick directed a movie version of it. In 1997 Stephen King wrote the tv miniseries based on the book because he thought that the Kubrick film was too different from the original story.
The characters of the book, all of which are well rounded, include: