In “The Shining”, written by Steven King, the reader is exposed to an issue that a lot of families face in the real world that of which is alcoholism. The story’s main character, Jack Torrance, struggles from this issue due to his troubled past regarding an abusive and alcoholic father as well as his struggle of becoming the very man he loved, yet hated as a child. By exposing the reader to alcoholism, they are instantly aware of the outcomes of it and how it can affect someone.
King uses this method to help enhance the story, to allow the contents of the book to become real and relatable to the reader, and most importantly, to allow the reader to actually sympathize with the main characters. Throughout the novel, we grow to be very fond of the Torrance family and how they attempt to cope with living in the Outlook Hotel. The reader learns of Jack Torrance’s troubled past and how he is attempting to stay sober for the sake of his family due to how uncontrolled his temper can be while abusing alcohol (“Landscape of Fear: Stephen King’s American Gothic 105”).
The reader also learns of Wendy who is Jack’s wife, and how she struggles with Jack’s abuse and the inability to leave her marriage due to the problem of not being able to support her and Danny by herself, and lastly, Danny, who is the son of Jack and Wendy and who also struggles with Jack’s abuse due to alcohol. In my opinion, Stephen King uses these three different, yet similar standpoints to emphasize alcoholism and how it manages to affect other people, not just the individual who has the issue. We all know men like Jack Torrance who carry the vicious Mr. Hyde beneath the veneer of their cultured and educated Dr. Jekyll, separated only by a few martinis that serve to blur the line between beast and civilized man” (“Stephen King: America’s Storyteller” 93). Later in the novel, we progressively notice Jack’s state of mind change for the worse and how violent he starts to slowly become.
Eventually, the Outlook Hotel’s evil presence overwhelmed Jack’s mind completely and begins to haunt him of his past struggle with his abusive and alcoholic father and begins to tease him of his personal weaknesses, as frail as his mind already was due to his emotional state of fighting to stay sober, which causes his uncontrolled anger to unleash yet again (“Landscape of Fear: Stephen King’s American Gothic” 71).
This causes Jack to be driven off the edge in hatred, which also causes his family to be in danger of abuse yet again. In the end of the novel, Jack’s frail mind caused from his extreme thirst for alcohol and his abusive childhood from his father end up being his inevitable downfall. Jack’s mind becomes completely filled with hatred for his family and the yearning for them to suffer, he becomes blinded with rage.
The reader’s begin to root for Wendy and Danny as they escape Jack’s grasp; leaving behind the exploding remains of the Outlook Hotel and a once beloved member of their family. Steven King did an incredible job creating “The Shining”. Using a real life issue as damaging as alcoholism and allowing the reader to sympathize and even relate with the main characters was truly a remarkable idea. This thriller is, in no doubt, a masterpiece that will stay a treasure for years to come.