Jack Torrance is one of the main characters in The Shining. He is one of the most terrifying and dichotomous characters ever to come out of Stephen King’s mind. He is also one of the most tormented characters King has ever created. He is the father of Danny, and husband of Wendy.
This former preparatory school teacher who is in his early thirties is both a devoted father and husband an alcoholic homicidal maniac. He takes the job of winter caretaker for the isolated Overlook Hotel, located high in the Colorado Rockies after he is fired from his job at Stovington University. He hopes to use this time to work on his relationship with his family and to renew his earlier successes as a fiction writer. Unfortunately, the darker elements of Jack’s character threaten these goals. He has a history of alcoholism, a background of child abuse (which he learned from his father and has manifested itself at least once, when Danny was three after Danny spilled beer on his papers), an unchecked temper, and self destructive thoughts and tendencies that at times have led to serious contemplation of suicide. Because of these flaws, Jack is especially vulnerable to the malevolent powers of the Overlook Hotel. Eventually they lead him to betray his loyalties to his wife and son. Even though Jack becomes terrifying and dangerous, he never stops being a real, three-dimensional character, which is capable of love and sacrifice as well as brutality.
Jack finds a mysterious scrapbook in the hotel basement which fuels his obsession with the Overlook’s history of violence.
The hotel, and the supernatural beings who inhabit it, provide Jack with supernatural liquor. Jack becomes possessed by the evil spirits of the hotel and becomes the shadowy figure of his son’s visions. He attacks Wendy and Hallorann with a croquet mallet. He then looks for his son, with murderous intent.
Jack grew up as a victim of his fathers’ alcoholism and child abuse. Though he recognizes these forces, he is still destroyed by them. Like many alcoholics, Jack uses alcohol both to celebrate his victories and to console himself in defeat. When he has to quit drinking because he has become increasingly unstable and violent, he proceeds to sabotage not only his own life but that of his family as well.
As the winter progresses he begins to see the danger of the hotel but refuses to leave because of pride. He is determined to keep his job. This pride costs him everything. As long as Jack remains in a civilized setting, among people and away from alcohol, he is more or less able to keep his anger and self-loathing bottled up. Once he is isolated from society he feels trapped and begins to lose control completely.