Stephen King: The Shining

The Shining, a novel by Stephen King published in 1977, is a seminal work in the horror genre that explores themes of isolation, the supernatural, alcoholism, and the impact of past sins on present circumstances. It stands as one of King’s most enduring and popular novels and has been adapted into a critically acclaimed film and a mini-series.


number of pages: 447
literary movement: CONTEMPORARY
literary genre: HORROR, THRILLER
1st edition: 1977
years of writing: 1976 - 1977


The story centers on the Torrance family: Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic, his wife Wendy, and their five-year-old son Danny. Jack accepts a job as an off-season caretaker at the remote Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies, hoping the solitude will help him overcome his alcoholism and provide a peaceful environment to focus on his writing.

Upon their arrival at the hotel, the Torrance family is introduced to Dick Hallorann, the hotel’s cook. Hallorann possesses a psychic ability, referred to as the shining, which he identifies in Danny as well. Before leaving the hotel, Hallorann warns Danny that the Overlook has a dark past and cautions him against exploring Room 217.

As the Torrance family settles into their new living situation, the isolation of the Overlook begins to take its toll on them. Jack struggles with writer’s block and is gradually drawn into the hotel’s malevolent influence, which exacerbates his struggle with alcoholism. Wendy becomes increasingly concerned about Jack’s mental state and their son’s safety.

Danny’s psychic abilities intensify at the Overlook, and he experiences a series of horrifying visions that reveal the hotel’s violent past. He encounters the ghostly former inhabitants of the hotel, including the sinister figures in Room 217.

Jack’s mental health deteriorates under the influence of the Overlook. The hotel exploits his weaknesses, leading him to succumb to his alcoholism and driving him to violence against his family. The Overlook hopes to use Jack to murder his family, essentially repeating the horrific history of violence the hotel has witnessed over the years.

The Shining chronicles the Torrance family’s struggle for survival as they contend with the spectral forces in the hotel and Jack’s descent into madness. The climax of the novel is a harrowing confrontation between Jack, who has been entirely taken over by the hotel’s evil influence, and his wife and son.


Doctor Sleep (2013)


Jack Torrance

Jack is the main character and serves as the novel’s antagonist. A struggling writer and recovering alcoholic, Jack takes a job as the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in hopes of finding inspiration for his writing. As time goes on, Jack becomes increasingly unstable due to the malevolent influences of the hotel.

Danny Torrance

Danny is Jack and Wendy’s five-year-old son. He possesses psychic abilities, referred to as the shining, which enable him to see into the hotel’s horrific past. Danny’s powers intensify the malevolent energy within the hotel, which, in turn, makes him a target of its sinister forces.

Wendy Torrance

Wendy is Jack’s wife and Danny’s mother. She’s a strong and caring woman who deeply loves her son. As the hotel’s influence over Jack grows, she becomes more terrified and desperate to escape the Overlook with Danny.

Dick Hallorann

Dick is the Overlook Hotel’s cook who also possesses psychic abilities. He recognizes Danny’s shining and warns him about the hotel’s power. Despite being in Florida, Hallorann senses Danny’s distress and rushes back to the Overlook to help him.

The Overlook Hotel

While not a human character, the hotel itself is an integral part of the story. It has a consciousness and malicious intent, and it significantly influences Jack’s actions. Its haunted past and its power to manipulate its inhabitants make it a formidable antagonist in the novel.

This inhuman place makes human monsters.



  • The Overlook Hotel: The setting of the book is a key element of its plot. The Overlook Hotel in Colorado, isolated and eerie, becomes a character itself with its haunted past and malicious intent.
  • Jack Torrance: The protagonist of the story is a recovering alcoholic and a struggling writer. His character arc from a loving father to a man possessed by the hotel is crucial to the plot.
  • Danny Torrance: Jack’s son, Danny, has the shining, a psychic ability that allows him to see the hotel’s horrific past and the malevolent spirits that reside there.
  • Haunted History: King brilliantly blends the supernatural elements with the psychological, making the reader question whether the horrors are real or a figment of the characters’ imagination.
  • Wendy Torrance: Wendy, Jack’s wife, is a complex character struggling with her husband’s alcoholism and violent tendencies. Her will to protect her son from the unfolding horror is a major plot point.
  • Isolation and Insanity: One of the central themes of the novel is the descent into madness, caused by isolation and supernatural forces at play.
  • Addiction: The book provides a deep insight into alcoholism and addiction, symbolized through Jack’s character and the history of the Overlook Hotel.
  • The Maze: The garden maze in the hotel becomes a metaphor for the bewildering and ensnaring nature of the hotel and the characters’ own minds.
  • The Supernatural: The manifestations of the supernatural are intricate and bone-chilling, from Room 237 to the spectral residents of the hotel.
  • The Ending: The climax is intense and terrifying, with Jack’s complete descent into madness and the subsequent fight for survival by Wendy and Danny.

The book ends with a battle against not just the elements of horror but also personal demons. It’s a chilling portrayal of how isolation and the forces of evil can drive a person to madness and violence. The novel is an exploration of the darker side of human nature, familial bonds, and the chilling consequences of unchecked personal issues. It stands as a chilling and unforgettable classic in the horror genre.


The Shining was adapted into a film by Stanley Kubrick, released in 1980. It has also been adapted into a miniseries in 1997. The sequel, Doctor Sleep, was adapted into a film in 2019.

The Shining (1980) was directed by Stanley Kubrick and is widely considered one of the greatest horror films of all time. It stars Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and Danny Lloyd. The film is known for its atmospheric and psychological horror, innovative camera work, and memorable performances, especially that of Nicholson as Jack Torrance. The plot follows writer Jack Torrance as he becomes the winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy, and his son, Danny, who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.

The 1997 miniseries adaptation of The Shining, directed by Mick Garris, is more faithful to King’s novel than Kubrick’s film. The miniseries stars Steven Weber as Jack Torrance and Rebecca De Mornay as Wendy Torrance. This adaptation was reportedly more to Stephen King’s liking, as he was famously critical of Kubrick’s interpretation of his work.

The Shining (1980)
The Shining (1997)



Explore the life and work of Stephen King, one of the most prolific and successful authors of our time. With a career spanning over four decades, King has terrified and captivated readers worldwide with his chilling tales of horror and supernatural suspense. This comprehensive biography covers King’s early life, education, career, top books, interesting facts, and his numerous awards and honors.


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