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Literature: The Shining

A 1977 novel by Stephen King. King's third published novel, The Shining became a bestseller, and established King as a preeminent author in the horror genre.

In 1980, it was loosely adapted into a feature film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson. Though quite different from the original, the film has become a classic in its own right. Still, Stephen King was irritated at the changes (while remaining lukewarm-to-positive about the film overall), and it was more faithfully remade as a 1997 miniseries starring Steven Weber and Rebecca De Mornay. It didn't fare as well with the critics.

A sequel titled Doctor Sleep was released in late 2013.

As of 2014, a prequel film called The Overlook Hotel is in the early stages of development, with Glenn Mazzara attached.

Contains the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Jack's father was a violent Domestic Abuser, who also beat up his kids regularly.
    • Wendy's mother abused her emotionally.
    • Jack also accidentally broke Danny's arm - while trying to spank him for misbehaving. Later Defied, as Jack is horrified by what he does to Danny.
  • Action Girl: Averted, as Wendy is anything but. During the DVD commentary for the 1997 miniseries, Stephen King comments that Rebecca DeMornay asked him if Wendy could have had karate lessons. Uh, no...Your average housewife would not have that kind of training. King does point out that it was a challenge to believably adapt the Wendy character—who is college educated but unemployed with no social support network—to a 1990s audience. Why does she stay with Jack?
    • In the 1970s, when the novel was written, women often did take classes in simple self-defense. Given Wendy's general disposition, though, she most likely never did.
  • Adult Fear: Jack is soaking in it.
  • The Alcoholic Domestic Abuser: Jack is/was trying very hard not to be this, because he doesn't want to be like his dad.
  • Anti-Villain: Jack Torrance could be considered one.
  • Animal Motifs: Wasps.
  • Arc Words: "Unmask! Unmask!"; "REDRUM"; "Come down here and take your medicine!", "The Red Death held sway over all!"
  • Ax-Crazy: DUH!
    • Though, the ax was only in the movie. In the book, it's more like Mallet Crazy.
  • Bigger Bad: The malevolent force behind Overlook Hotel.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Halloran.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jack dies, but Wendy, Danny, and Hallorann escape and the Overlook is destroyed. An epilogue shows them with Hallorann at his new job in less-threatening mountains. Wendy is recovering from the back injuries Jack gave her with the roque club (while possessed) and Danny is still traumatized, though they are getting better.
  • Break the Cutie: The entire plot is pretty much an extended Trauma Conga Line to Danny.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Danny wets his pants during several instances of extreme stress or terror, most notably when confronted with the thing in the bathtub of Room 217.
  • Canon Welding: Several of King's later works have entities very similar to the Hotel itself. To say nothing of the occasional references to the events of the book in other works.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The handyman's spiel about the old, dangerous boiler.
  • Children Are Innocent: Danny is intelligent for his age, but is too young to understand a lot of the thoughts and feelings he picks up from people around him, such as a wealthy guest at the Overlook lusting after a bellboy. At one point, he admits to Halloran how much this frustrates him.
  • Cool Old Guy: Hallorann, and Watson for a lesser extent.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: It's done by, surprisingly the Hotel itself. It's not uncommon in King's works to find the inhuman monster being so humanly vulgar.
  • Creator Cameo: Stephen King appears in the 1997 adaptation as a bandleader.
  • Daddy's Girl: Wendy was like this.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Horace Derwent, to some extent. In the party scene in the book, Jack spots Derwent sadistically humiliating his lover Roger in front of the other ghostly guests.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Horace's lover Roger.
  • Dirty Mind-Reading: Danny "hears" a female hotel guest thinking that she'd like to get into a bellhop's pants...which leads to him wondering why she didn't just put on some pants of her own.
  • Drop the Hammer: Jack's Weapon of Choice in the novel and miniseries is a roque mallet.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Something is seen coming out of the Hotel as it burns up, before it dissolves into nothingness.
  • Exposition Dump: The scrapbook Jack finds in the basement, which is full of newspaper clippings and articles on the hotels history.
  • Expy: Horace Derwent, an eccentric millionaire recluse, aviator, and director who bought the Overlook in the '30s, is clearly patterned after Howard Hughes.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Jack Torrance, Grady, and probably a lot of other caretakers who got too comfortable with the Overlook over the years.
  • Faux Shadow: A character mentions a large picture window, how expensive it was to install, and to take care that it doesn't get broken. Rather disappointingly, it doesn't get broken until the hotel explodes.
  • Foreshadowing: References to the old, rather dangerous boiler that requires steam pressure to be manually relieved.
    • The hornet's nest that the Torrances find suddenly comes alive and stings Danny just before the ghost activity kicks off in the hotel
  • For the Evulz: While they need Jack to kill Danny and Wendy, the ghosts of the Overlook have no qualms against messing with his mind for little more than kicks.
  • Game Face: "All right. No more masks."
  • Genius Loci: Yes, the hotel is infested with ghosts, but it seems that it's less the ghosts and more the hotel itself, which is implied to be both alive and VERY sadistic.
  • "Good Luck" Gesture: When the Torrances are driving up the mountain in their unreliable VW Bug. Danny is confident that the car will make it. Wendy isn't and keeps her fingers crossed, Danny glances down and sees through her sandals that she crossed her toes as well.
  • Gorn: While the movie and miniseries avert this, the novel contains some quite horrific examples, especially in the climax. Special mention goes to the bit where Danny tries to break his father from the hotel's influence, only to have Jack become completely possessed and forced to slam his own face with the roque mallet several times until he is finally dead and the ghosts can take full control of his body.
  • The Heartless: The Overlook itself is hinted at being an example. See Hive Mind below.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Jack is temporarily returned to normal by his psychic son, Danny. Realizing what the hotel has done to him, Jack tells Danny that he loves him and tells him to escape while he still can. In the minseries Jack regains control one last time to ensure the hotel goes boom.
  • Hell Hotel
  • Hive Mind: The hotel's ghosts/psychic echo supposedly comprise one.
    • At one point it is compared to the collective group intelligence of a hive of pissed off wasps Hallorann saw in his youth. There is also a hive of wasps in the storyline itself, furthering the symbolism.
    • When Danny enters room 217 in the novel, he tries to read the mind of the infamous bathtub lady. The experience is compared to sticking your hand inside a wasp's nest.
  • Ignored Epiphany: In one chapter, Jack realizes how he's being manipulated by the hotel, but changes his mind and blames things on his son. He understood quite well what was happening. He also realized at that point it was too late, and just how deep the hotel's claws had sunk into his mind. Kind of like a self loathing alcoholic who knows he's fallen off the wagon, but feels he's too far gone to even try anymore. Blaming his son was just his way of shifting the blame for his own failure from himself.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Danny to Jack. Jack manages to come through long enough to tell Danny that he loves him very much and begs him to run away, before the hotel, in a very brutal fashion, erases what little there was left of Jack's soul.
  • Innocent Swearing: When Danny and Wendy talk about the family car:
    Danny: Do you think the bug will break down?
    Wendy: No, I don't think so.
    Danny: Dad said it might. He said the fuel pump was all shot to shit.
    Wendy: Don't say that, Danny.
    Danny: (surprised) Fuel pump?
  • Ironic Echo: In the miniseries, "That's what I've been missing".
  • I See Dead People: Numerous and varied.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mr. Ullman, the hotel manager, may be an "officious little prick," but he is quite right that hiring Jack Torrance, an abusive alcoholic, as the winter caretaker is a bad idea.
    • For all Jack's loathing of him, Ullman is very good at his job, including cleaning up the messes and keeping the hotel in the black.
  • Kill It with Fire: Jack and Hallorann recall burning wasps' nests and how "fire destroys everything" and later, good!Jack delays possessed!Jack just long enough so that he fails to dump the steam in the hotel boilers and blows up the Overlook in a glorious fireball.
    • Grady tells Jack that his girls attempted this, which is why he "corrected" them.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Horace Derwent is a thinly veiled Howard Hughes. In the movie, he's the guy in the bedroom not wearing the dog costume.
  • Legacy Character: In-universe. "You've always been the caretaker."
  • Let The Past Burn: The haunted hotel burns up and dissolves into nothingness.
  • Living Bodysuit: Jack ultimately becomes this for the Overlook's Hive Mind
  • Locked in a Freezer: Happens to Jack in the storeroom. Sometimes this is not as effective as you might think.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Two events in Jacks past had this reaction, him breaking Danny's arm, and him mocking George Hatfields stutter and later beating him for slashing his tires in revenge.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: The book usually doesn't censor profanity, but the trope is used once for comic effect. Hallorann gets Danny's message, when he's driving, and he swerves across the lane, almost crashing into a workman's Pinto. The workman's reaction is described thus:
    "He invited the driver of the limo to perform an illegal sex act on himself. To engage in oral congress with various rodents and birds. He articulated his own proposal that all persons of Negro blood return to their native continent. He expressed his sincere belief in the position the limo-driver's soul would occupy in the afterlife. He finished by saying that he believed he had met the limo-driver's mother in a New Orleans house of prostitution."
  • Magical Negro: Hallorann could count as one.
    • Lampshaded when Hallorann briefly wonders why he should risk his life to help three white people who he barely knows. (The answer is that because of their telepathic abilities, him and Danny formed a very close bond, despite meeting only once).
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Jack wrote several short stories, and he's working on a play.
  • The Napoleon: Overlook manager Stuart Ullman, a short man who acts like a smarmy bully with Jack.
  • New House New Problems: The hotel, though the Torrances are only planning a temporary stay.
  • Nice Guy: Halloran.
  • Nostalgia Heaven: This is the plot. Dead people stay in the hotel forever as ghosts at a 1945 party.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Danny knows from the beginning that the Overlook Hotel is bad news. But he can't tell this to his parents, not just because he's a kid but also because they're in denial about Danny's psychic powers. He also knows how important this job is to the family, so he hopes that he's wrong (sometimes, his precognition does fail).
  • Not What It Looks Like: Wendy is understandably alarmed when she sees Danny climb into Halloran's car, but a confrontation doesnt happen once she notices that they only seem to be talking, and Danny has the same expression he has when he hears something unusually engaging on TV. Keep in mind, this was decades before the child abduction scares of the 90's and 00's.
  • Off The Wagon: Jack quit drinking after a drunken ride with his friend Al Shockley ended up with Al hitting a bike parked in the middle of the road one night while both of them were very drunk. The bike was destroyed but nobody was hurt, though the incident so spooked the two men that they both quit drinking that day. The Overlook eventually gets Jack to drink again.
  • Oracular Urchin
  • Parental Favoritism: Jack was his father's favorite, though he still beat him regularly. Jack still loved him as best he could, even when the rest of the family began to hate him.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Overlook Hotel and its minions.
  • Psychic Powers: The "shining" of the title.
  • Precision F-Strike: While there's a lot of swearing in the novel, Wendy uses profanity only once. At night, the elevator starts going by itself. Jack goes to check on it; Wendy tries to hold him back, but he shoves her away.
    Jack: It... Wendy, it's my job.
    Wendy: Fuck your job.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: In the miniseries, just before Jack makes the boiler explode:
    Jack: Gentlemen...I think the party's over.
  • Redemption Equals Death: In the minseries only, Jack returns to normal one last time and lets his family escape to deal with the hotel himself. He and the hotel were killed in the explosion of the boiler. He reappears as a ghost one last time in the ending.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Hallorann, almost. After Jack's death, the hotel's spirit nearly persuades Hallorann to finish what Jack started and murder Danny and Wendy himself.
  • Room 101: Room 217, and the Presidential Suite.
  • Sanity Slippage: And how!
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Watson, the maintenance man. Al Shockley, when he can't remember Watson's name, refers to him as "that guy who swears all the time".
  • The Stinger: Miniseries only. A ghostly version of the Overlook is seen.
  • Snowed-In: "WE ARE SNOWED IN!" (Jack to Wendy when she keeps talking about getting Danny out of the Overlook.
  • Split Personality Takeover: Subverted. This is shown when Jack destroys his face with the roque mallet to simultaneously show Danny he's gone and delay the Overlook.
  • Survival Mantra: Jack keeps mentally describing Ullman as an "officious little prick" to help keep himself from losing control of his temper during his job interview for the Overlook. However, this crosses into Brick Joke territory as Jack's train of thought is interrupted by Ullman, rather deadpan, stating that he gets the feeling that Jack doesn't like him.
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: The evil spirits animating Jack Torrance think they have gotten to the boiler in time and relieved the pressure. They are wrong.
  • Shout-Out / Take That: At one point Jack comes upon an invitation to a masked ball at the Overlook's grand opening, and is reminded of The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe, whom he dismisses as "the great American hack".
    • A couple of lines from Poe's story are used as Arc Words here; see above.
  • Truer To The Text: The 1997 miniseries is far closer to Stephen King's book than the Kubrick film, with the huge exception of the Bowdlerised ending. It's not typically seen as an improvement over the Kubrick version.
  • The Unfavorite: Wendy harbors some resentment towards the bond between Jack and Danny, often feeling excluded when Danny prefers to open up to Jack over her.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Like a lot of Kings early works, it is very obvious the book was written during the 70's, everything from pop culture references, to some hints to social issues of the day that comes up in dialogue.
  • You Are What You Hate: Both Wendy and Jack carry traits that their abusive parents had, Wendy shares some of the resentment and jealousy her mother had toward her father for their child favoring him, Jack has his fathers drinking problem and violent mood swings. Neither is happy to realize this.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Grady is described as looking like a thug in spite of his fine clothes, but his voice sounds refined and educated.
  • Wham Line: "You've always been the caretaker."

ShardikLiterature of the 1970sThe Shockwave Rider
The Legend of Sleepy HollowGhost FictionThe Turn of the Screw
The Shawshank RedemptionWorks By Stephen KingDoctor Sleep
The DarkHorror LiteratureShutter Island

alternative title(s): The Shining
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