Book Review: The Shining By Stephen King

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

The book I chose is The Shining by Stephen King. The story takes place in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, in an isolated resort hotel called The Overlook Hotel built in 1907. The hotel is isolated because the closest town is 40 miles away and during the winter the roads are closed and the only way to communicate with other people is by a two way radio or a drive to town in the snowmobile. The three main characters are the members of the Torrence family which include Jack, his wife Wendy, and his son Danny. Jack is a middle aged man who got fired from his teaching job after he got physical with a student. He seems to have had a drinking problem in the past. Wendy is a stay at home wife who worries about her husband and his problems with staying employed and alcohol and is very protective of her son Danny. Danny is a five year old boy who has disturbing visions of bad things happening such as his dad beating up kids and his parents getting divorced. In the past he has been the victim of his dad’s anger when he broke his arm when Danny was looking at his papers. Danny has invented an imaginary friend named Tony who helps put into words the visions Danny has in his head.

The plot of the story is about a family that takes a job watching over the Overlook Hotel while it is closed for the winter season. This job includes caring for the grounds, checking the boiler daily, and staying in an apartment within the huge hotel. Because the roads are undrivable in the snow, the family will be completely isolated from the rest of the world, except for communication by two way radio. Once the family is left alone, bad things start happening such as Danny having terrifying visions, and Jack becoming possessed by an evil force and becoming mentally unstable. The struggle for Wendy and Danny to survive through the winter becomes the main focus of the story. Unfortunately Jack becomes completely possessed by the hotel and attempts to kill both Wendy and Danny. He ends up being killed in the boiler room explosion just after Wendy and Danny manage to escape on a snowmobile.

The author uses the literary technique of foreshadowing throughout the novel. One early example is when Jack is interviewing for the caretaker job and learns from Mr. Ullman who is in charge, that a previous caretaker had gone crazy and murdered his entire family with an axe. This same thing happens later in the story when Jack loses his mind and attempts to kill his wife and son with a mallet. Another literary technique is the use of symbolism. The boiler which is the heater in the hotel, has constant pressure building up in it that must be released through valves on a daily basis, in order for it not to explode. The boiler is symbolic of the pressure building inside of Jack as the hotel slowly takes over his mind and the anger inside of him builds up. The boiler becomes the symbol of Jack’s death when he allows it to explode.

Another example of symbolism is the two way radio which is the only link to the outside world for Jack and his family. When Jack destroys this single source of rescue, Danny’s ability to communicate with Mr. Halloran through his mind becomes their only hope of survival. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys horror novels. It can be slow in parts, with descriptions and interactions which did not happen the movie version. It is written in a way that keeps you in suspense about what will happen next, and Stephen King ends each chapter with a hook to make you want to keep reading. Another good reason to read it is to see the differences between the book and the movie version. For example, the movie version does not include the topiaries coming to life and being threatening to Danny. Finally, the book gives the reader more insight into what is going on inside of the characters, much better than a movie is able to do. I look forward to reading other books by Stephen King!


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