The Shining

by Stephen King

Theme One: Listen to the People in Your Relationships

If Jack, one of our protagonists, had listened to his wife, Wendy, and left the Overlook, he'd still be alive. When Danny began having hallucinations, Wendy insisted on leaving that awful place. Instead, Jack stubbornly refused to leave because he was scared of failing this job and never being able to recover career-wise. He had too much pride to give up, and so he stayed and hoped that things would work out for the better.


Things only got worse from then on. Wendy and Jack started seeing the same things that Danny was seeing. Wendy told Jack to leave by driving the snowmobile to town since their car wasn't able to get down the snow ridden roads. Jack initially agreed, but then decided to ignore his wife. He broke the snowmobile so that there wasn't a way to get out of the Overlook.


When the place was at it's worse and Jack had succumbed to the hotel, Wendy and Danny begged Jack to stop. They pleaded with him because even though he has done terrible things, they both still loved Jack. Unfortunately Jack's sanity was long gone by then, he had become a part of the Overlook hotel and could not stop himself.


Things didn't work out for the better for Jack. Wendy and Danny were forced to leave Jack in the hotel as it burned because he was no longer the person they had both known.

Theme Two: Be Mindful of Your Past because It has Made You who You are Today.

This theme affected all three of the protagonists because all three have a past. For Jack seeing his father physically abuse his mom caused resentment and frustration in his life. Jack's temper, at its worse, closely resembled the aggression his father had after coming home drunk at night. Jack's most regretful moment in his life was breaking his son's arm while in a fit of drunken rage. That behavior is remarkably similar to his dead beat dad's history of wife beating while intoxicated.


Wendy also had past trouble with her family. Wendy's sister died in a car accident when she was little. This tragedy depressed her mother which made her negligent towards Wendy as she grew up. Now a days the two can't stand each other, and it's no wonder why. They are too similar! They both nag, complain, and blame their respective husbands for things they also had responsibility for. For example, Wendy's mom blamed her ex husband for all the trouble in her life. Wendy likewise solely blamed Jack for breaking Danny's arms, but if you knew your husband was belligerent, you'd think that you wouldn't let your toddler play in his office.


Even Danny, as young as he was, had a past that has shaped and influenced him. Danny has had to witness his father struggle with alcoholism and the problems that come from that. Danny has watched his mom and dad, the two things that he can supposedly trust, turn against each other. Danny has seen a grown man come home turnt up, only to cry at night out of gilt. All this sadness made him grant it more independent for someone his age, but it also changed him into a quiet type that frequently turns to his own mind for answers and companionship. I wouldn't blame this on his lack of schooling or friends but on him witnessing the breakdown of his household at such a young age. He can no longer rely on his parents for support so he turned towards himself.


I can see that these characters have all been influenced by something or someone in their past. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I do think the author wanted us to catch this since he added all those flashbacks into the narrative. Being mindful of the past and being able to see that it has affected you is a very important lesson to learn from the Torrence family.

Tying It Together

These two themes are actually very similar if we look closely enough at each one. One theme says that you should listen to people in your relationships and the other says to watch out for your past because it has made you who you currently are. So one common element between the two are that relationships (past and present) are very important. Wendy's, Jack's, and even Danny's relationship with their parents have affected them in either a positive or a negative way. Relationships can either empower you and make you a stronger, more positive person in the future or can break you and make you worse off for having those relationships.


Another important element in each theme was being aware of yourself. You need to watch yourself as you talk to people to make sure you are really listening to what they have to say. Also you should be watching yourself to make sure you are who you want to be as a person and not just be someone that somebody created.


I think that both dealing with relationships between people you know or knew and being introspective of yourself and your actions have important roles in both themes.