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Free Example of The Shining by Stephen King Essay

Abstract

Imagine that one is in a luxury hotel right in the middle of picturesque snow-capped mountains. A beautiful view opens from his/her presidential suite; the bar is full of dozens of bottles of premium liquor; food stocks are overflowing, and it is all for free. Gorgeous, is it not? A person is alone in the whole hotel. He/she is one in a huge, completely empty, and isolated from civilization hotel, one in an ancient hotel where each room carries a history of violent entertainment, evil intentions, and madness. A long, long winter is ahead where the only companions are ceaseless blizzards outside, howling almost like humans; a dimensional antique clock is ticking on the first floor, and, of course, there are numerous ghosts of the past.

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The Shining Book Report Example

With a clear conscience, The Shining can be called one of the strongholds of the bibliography of Stephen King. This is his third published novel and the first one, which was admitted as a hardcover-bestseller.

For more than thirty years, it has consistently taken a leading position in various charts of the scariest books. The film adaptation by Stanley Kubrick in 1980 was the first sensational film adaptation of King’s novels. It certainly accelerated the popularization of the writer when he was a prince, rather than the king of terrors.

The history of the novel The Shining by Stephen King is probably known to everyone. After two books written by King, Salem's Lot and Carrie, which brought him tremendous success, the writer went with his family to the mountain hotel "Stanley", located in Colorado (Bloom 20).

Stephen needed new sources of inspiration, and this was a perfect place to be filled with new ideas. In the hotel where King’s family vacationed, there were no other guests, and this intimate atmosphere, as well as empty rooms, has played a significant role in the creation of a new work. In Stephen’s head, at the sight of the abandoned rooms, the story began to emerge, which has now become a bestseller and won the recognition of millions of horror fans around the world.

Thus, the novel by American author The Shining saw the world in 1977. Today, this book is considered as one of the best works produced in the horror genre.

The book begins with the saying that the protagonist of the novel Jack Torrance is being offered a part-time job of watchman in the mountain hotel, called “Overlook”, only for the winter season.

Torrance is a former teacher and an aspiring novelist. After his marriage, his character deteriorated; he began to drink and beat. Jack broke his son’s hand and hit one of the students at school. This work is very important for him to calm down, work on a novel, and spend some time while his friend tries to get back his place at school. Before him, a previous hotel guard Delbert Grady killed his entire family.

Torrance takes his family with him: his young wife and little son named Danny. At the hotel where they arrived, there are no guests, but it is full of supernatural creatures that can only be seen by Danny.

On the day of departure of the hotel staff, Danny meets the Afro-American chef Dick Hallorann, who tells the boy that he shines like no other, can read the thoughts of other people and see the things that ordinary people cannot see. He can also predict future or events that may occur under specific circumstances. Hallorann says that this hotel is a very nasty place full of evil spirits and prohibits the boy to visit room 217.

For several months, the family is separated from civilization, being in a huge snow-covered building that is trying to drive Jack Torrance mad. Strange things start to happen. Danny begins to see the true face of the hotel, which is inhabited by the ghosts of the past. Danny goes to room 217 and sees a resurrected woman there who drowned in the bathroom of this room (Bailey 98).

"The hotel’s owner" throws Jack the album with the history of the hotel and gradually takes possession of his mind. Step by step, Jack gives up to an invisible power. He is drinking alcohol and experiencing the outbursts of anger, with which he had fought in the past. Jack breaks the radio and hides the battery for the snowmobile, which is an only connection with the outside world. Ghosts are becoming more tangible.

His wife and son have to get out of this terrible place, without letting anger absorb all Jack's family, and the shining will help them handle this situation.

Using his supernatural powers, Danny sends a desperate mental call to Hallorann, and he rushes to the rescue. Evil spirits finally take possession of Jack’s mind, and he starts to pursue his own son and wife. Halloran leads Torrance family to the barn, and, after the feeling that the hostile force is trying to take over his mind, he takes Wendy and Danny away from this damned place.

Soon, there appeared a brilliant film adaptation of the novel. In 1980, a film was made. It was based on The Shining and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The main role in the film was played by the unique actor Jack Nicholson, who played the role of mad Jack Torrance perfectly. Cash gathering from this movie adaptation made more than $ 44 million with a budget of 19 million (Spignesi 25).

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In general, the screenplay is not too different from the plot of the book. The only difference is that the book tells about the ominous room numbered 217 in the hotel, and the hotel management in the movie asked to change the number to 237, so that campers would not find it cursed.

Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine, in September 1947. His father abandoned the family when Stephen was still very young, and his mother had to work in a few places for very little money to support the family (Bailey 47). After several removals, the family stopped in Durham, Maine, where Stephen's mother had to take care of her aging parents.

Although his father was not involved in the life of young Stephen, he greatly influenced the formation of the personality of the future writer, leaving him with a lot of fantastic books. In his childhood, Stephen was quite a lonely child; he wore thick glasses and did not have an athletic physique; he preferred to listen to scary stories on the radio, read different horror and fiction books or watch science fiction movies. In his youth, Stephen got the pleasure of reading books of a wide range of authors.

During his last years in school, Stephen wrote a lot of short stories. The intense plot of these small stories was turning around small towns and, of course, included elements of horror. Stephen sent his works in a variety of science-fiction magazines, and, although none of them had been published, he took the first prize in an essay contest. The future writer had other interests; he became more social, and he loved football and played a guitar in a rock and roll band. After school, Stephen received his degree in English at the University of Maine in Orono. In college, he was forced to work in multiple places to provide for himself. In 1971, Stephen married Tabitha Jane Spruce, whom he met at the university, and he is married to her now.

One day, in desperation, Stephen threw one of his drafts. Tabitha always inspired and supported her husband in his desire to write. She found the paper and forced him to send it to one text editor in the Doubleday Publishing House, which always had an interest in the work of King. Thus, the first novel by Stephen King Carrie was published, rights to which were sold for 400,000 dollars. The novel had a success, and King's career has begun.

Stephen King said in the late seventies that the vast majority of people liked to be scared. It is difficult to understand the nature of fear, but fear is one of the first feelings that people experience. As adults, men forget most of the things that were so scary when they were young. It is getting harder and harder to break through the barrier of rationalism. Nevertheless, fear does not decrease. It simply transforms.

Does one like roller coasters? What kind of satisfaction does he/she get from it? Fear! As a result of fear, adrenaline, which causes the excited state, is comparable only with ecstasy. Not all people have such steel nerves and a strong heart to stand it. Hence, the horror is a good substitute for this kind of feelings. At any point, if the nerves are on the edge, one can break away from the book and go to the kitchen to chew a sandwich or call a friend.

Among literary scholars, there is a widespread belief that "horror literature" is especially popular in crucial times. In fact, the way it is. It is enough to remember the work of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, the father of the genre "horrors" of the 20th century. It falls exactly into the time of the "great depression" in America. Then, his work was thoroughly forgotten, and, only at the end of the century, it became well known again. In crucial times, people are beginning to see the imperfection of the world around them very clearly. They cease to believe in the absolute power of science and no longer hope for the best. The "Literature of Horror" quite deliberately emphasizes that science is nothing at all. The world is not knowable and often turns to humans with its very bad and frightening side.

It should be mentioned that the horror genre experiences its golden time exactly today.

The main objective of horror, like any other genre of literature, is to entertain the reader. The main tool of horror is fear. Through fear, the author in this genre gets to the reader. In horror, there are three types of fear:

  1. Fear of the unknown (supernatural horror);
  2. Sublimated, exaggerated real (social, political, etc.) fear;
  3. Fear, disgust (e.g. severed limbs, etc.).

The main conflict of horror is the clash of rational, moral and irrational, immoral principles. It can occur within a single individual (from Jekyll and Hyde by Stevenson to Secret Window, Secret Garden by King) or as a struggle between characters, embodying these principles (for example, Dracula by Stoker).

For the horror genre, it is important to keep the reader in constant tension and make him/her believe in the reality of the situation. The atmosphere plays a key role in the horror genre. Creating and maintaining this atmosphere is the most important and difficult task for the author. The main thing is to press the lever in the right direction and get the reader's imagination, and to stop in time, without disturbing, but throw more coal into the furnace.

True connoisseurs of horror use different systems of classification of books and movies. Here are the most typical kinds of fiction:

  • Thrillers, including "suspense" (state of suspense, anxiety), slashers (maniacs), etc. In these books, there is no supernatural;
  • Mysticism, including vampires, monsters, ghosts, werewolves, witches, etc.;
  • Zombies;
  • Space horror (including aliens);
  • Animal-horror where a terrible role goes to animals;
  • At the junction of different directions.

As one can see, Stephen King does not change his favorite themes about otherworldly powers. In many of his writings, the main causers of all the troubles were otherworldly evil beings. The Shining was no exception to this rule. Father of the family Jack was adjusted to madness by the phantoms that live in the hotel. Their actions and the violent events that took place here during the lifetime of the building affect Jack’s behavior; they literally take possession of his mind and thoughts, not allowing him to judge the situation adequately.

Relationships in any family are a complex web of conflicting feelings, good memories, and old scores that make up the steady psychological background. King displays the mood of Torrance house with outstanding accuracy.

He appears in The Shining as a true master of the nuances, the little touches that give the product uniqueness and vitality. With a firm hand, the author saturates the iconic characters with memories, dreams, and fears mostly from childhood, spreading their influence on the rest of their life.

King skillfully shows the importance of ordinary scenes, reveals the lightning reactions of his heroes, their shameful subconscious impulses. Thoughts swirl in their heads in extreme situations. Detailed flashbacks of the past help understand the characters' personalities better. The main advantage of this book is its full psychological transparency.

King deeply understood and versed in the intricacies of family relationships. He creates the impression that he was involved in many years of psychotherapeutic practice. First of all, the novel is based on his personal experiences with his wife and children. The writer himself admits that he has brought to the image of Jack Torrance his harmful affection to alcohol and drugs, and all his aggressive impulses, particularly his dissatisfaction with raging children.

In general, anger and investigation of strength and primitive nature of this feeling is another important theme of The Shining. Rage can be accumulated over the years, and, then, it just attacks the first comer with merciless sledgehammer.

However, the worst thing is that a person gradually becomes accustomed to the delight of steam outlet and cannot give up the daily tantrums, fueled by natural instincts. According to the mighty power of Freud's Thanatos, there is no need to find a pretext for riot because it can always be invented (Jack is being helped by evil phantoms that are living at the "Overlook").

Let one think about why this work by Stephen King is considered as one of the most frightening works in the horror genre.

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Recent studies in colleges and universities indicate that Stephen King is very popular in this environment. He is the only modern writer, who combined the ability to create scary stories, holding in suspense, with a long historical tradition.

Authors such as Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Edgar Allan Poe, and Wilkie Collins are just a few examples of classic writers who received that admission in their time.

It is necessary to understand what features distinguish Stephen King from other writers in this genre:

  1. First of all, Stephen King is a good storyteller.
  2. He uses elements of horror, dirty techniques and subconscious fears of people to grab the reader.
  3. He cleverly uses the element of surprise.
  4. Young and old characters play an equally important role in his works.
  5. He offers the reader to look at the dark side of humanity.
  6. The forces of good and evil are often equal opponents.
  7. The fragility of life is one of the main topics.
  8. He writes on the taboo topics such as death, destruction, and unknown.
  9. In their actions, his characters are often guided by a sense of anger or revenge.
  10. He is not a moralist, and his stories naturally unfold before the reader.

King makes a bet on several types of fear at once, instead of operating with only one horror reception. To put it simply, he saturated the book with several kinds of fear. He used an everyday fear of domestic violence, the journey of the soul through back alleys, hidden from human eyes, claustrophobia, which is being heated up with loneliness (Torrance family had lived in the snow-bound hotel for many months, being separated from the external world), and otherworldly evil beings. With such a variety of dark colors, one just cannot stay calm after reading The Shining.

The horror of this book consists not only of the ghosts who inhabit “The Overlook Hotel”; it lies in the fact that a loving father and husband can turn into a monster, demonstrating the degradation of a man in a very short period of time. The book is very serious; it shows that thin line, which separates the two sides of human consciousness: normal and mad. King illustrates mother's love that is willing to confront her loved one, her husband, in order to protect her child by all means, when her son is in danger.

Summary

The Shining is not just a name of the novel; the novel itself shines through the author’s talent. The book turned out multifaceted, like a brilliant. Each character is a different facet of this gem. Thus, the story of Jack Torrance is not just a story about a man who goes crazy alone. This is a favorite motif of King when a writer is endowed with the gift or curse.

There is a first-class mystery and no less spectacular horrors of the human soul. The plot unfolds slowly. With every step, the atmosphere of something inevitable, hopeless, deadly, and unknowable slowly condenses. The reader continues to hope for a happy ending, no matter how improbable it seems to be in a cycle of madness.

Today, Stephen King has begun working on a sequel to the best-selling horror The Shining. This time, the talented writer will tell his readers about adult Danny Torrentse, who survived the terrible events in that cursed hotel forty years ago. Now, he is working in a hospice where he helps hopelessly sick leave this world without fear of death. His psychic abilities have attracted a group of nomadic vampires who feed with the energy of such people. What will happen to this novel, which is destined to surpass the previous one, it will be known later.

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