Superstitions have always evolved through different cultures; however, their credibility is questionable. When taking into consideration ghost, demons, angels, possession, etc, it is questioned on whether or not these things exist or are a cover for mental instability. In the movie The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrick, Jack torrance accepts the responsibility of watching over the Overlook Hotel. Although a spacious and visually pleasing hotel, it is believed that the previous caretaker obtained “cabin fever” and killed his family and then committed suicide.
The staff believes that the ghost of each family member haunts the hotel. As the movie goes on, Jack and his family encounter strange events, each character experiences a different incident that causes them to live in fear, eventually causing the family’s relationship to become more distant. At the end, Jack Torrence loses his morality and turns against his family, and kills the owner of the hotel. Jacks moral and behavioral change was influenced by the ghost of the previous caretaker, Grady, and the mind games performed by the hotel. Jacks morality begins to change when the hotel begins to please his most lusted desires.
Jack is an alcoholic who has been sober for five months, however the hotel tests his temptation and presents him with a bar tender. Jack claims that he would sell his soul to the devil for a drink. The hotel obeyed his wishes and Jack hallucinates drinking for the price of his soul. The devil grants Jack wishes and begins to play with his mind. For example, like every other man, Jack lusts for a younger more attractive wife and sex. The Hotel pleases his desire by presenting him with a sexy young woman in room 273 who arouses him and then morphes into an old decaying woman.
Kubrick hopes to show viewers that the hotel has its own identity playing tricks on Jack. Jack’s change in identity is emphasized by the use of mirrors. According to The Duality Motif by Murray Kraft,” people existing in two time frames at once as different incarnations, and conflicting personas which are battling for supremacy”. Kraft highlight the idea that Jack is battling between being the good guy and being the bad guy. Jack needs to prioritize whether he will succumb to his fantasies or continue being the man of the household. By the end of the movie, Jacks evil persona takes over.
Due to Jack selling his soul in order to fulfill his most desirable fantasies and needs, leads lucifer to punish him by making Jack a slave to the hotel. Jacks need for success causes the previous care taker, Grady, to influence his behavior. However, Grady is deceased after killing his family and then himself. As a writer, Jack has been unsuccessful and has encountered writer’s block causing him anger and a feeling of despair. The hotel presents Jack with an opportunity to feel successful and empowered if he follows the commands of Grady’s ghost.
When Jack meets the previous caretaker Grady, Grady instructs Jack to kill his family and anything that got in his way. Jack attempting to complete the task emphasizes his need to feel like he did something right. Jack allows his pride to get in the way and over power his morality. According to Stephens Kings interview on the Shining: ” It’s not until Grady, the ghost of the former caretaker who axed to death his family, slides open the bolt of the larder door, allowing Jack to escape, that you are left with no other explanation but the supernatural” (Ciment).
King emphasizes that although many of the events were hallucinations, the presence of ghost is evident when Grady meets physically meets Jack and instructs him on what to do. Grady wants to persuade Jack that he is on his side in order to make Jack feel accepted and empowered in the hotel. Jack is influenced by the mind games of Grady and the hotel as a sign that they approve of his morals. According to ‘Come and Play with Us’: The Play Metaphor in Kubrick’s Shining by Larry Caldwell, in the scene where Jack is being seduced by the woman in 273 “they have tapped Jack’s sexual ambivalence and shown him they approve of it”.
Caldwell is highlighting the idea that the hotel is trying to show Jack that it approves of his view on women and sexual desires. The hotel hopes to show Jack that if he becomes apart of the hotel, all his desires will be met. Jacks white superiority and racist remark, enraged the Native American Spirits. The Overlook hotel is built on a Native Indian Burial ground where in the 1900’s the Navajo tribe did not get along with the Whites and a genocide occurred, further confirming the presence of spirits and ghost. After being in the hotel, Jack makes a racist remake and uses the word “Niggar”.
After Jack’s remark, Cans with a Native American figure began to appear. According to the six weirdest Theories of the Shining,” the cans appear several times when characters are communicating telepathically with each other or plotting with the dead” (Caldwell). The emphasis on the cans explores the possibility that the Native Americans feel Jack should be punished for his remarks by becoming the monster he truly is. Also, the presence of American flags and Indian art work around the hotel highlights the idea of Americans and Indians fighting over power.
In this case, the Indians were more powerful than Jack and have won control over Jack as he becomes more of a member to the Overlook Hotel. It is more evident that Jack has sold his soul to the devil when he begins to transform and lose his human abilities. At the end of the film Jack loses his morality and attempts to kill his family, Jack also begins to lose physical characteristics: his face begins to look angrier and demonic and he loses the ability to speak clearly. Jack’s transformation is explained by his deal with the devil According to An esoteric analysis of Stanley Kubrick’s “The
Shining”:” The hotel is not merely a site for elite orgies and lascivious dalliances, but also a kind of sacrificial site where the spirits feed parasitically on their victims”. Taking into consideration the history of the hotel, the author hopes to to emphasize that the hotel is significant of a sacrificial site where Indian previously made sacrifices during their rituals. Jack has now voluntarily become the object being sacrificed. In the last scene of the film, A picture of the hotels staff from… Shows Jack Torrence in the image. According to The Family Man by Bill Blakemore, Jack “has always been the caretaker”.
The picture of Jack emphasizes that Jack motifs were always the same as the demonic spirits that roamed the hotel as their is a possibility he was born a murder. Blakemore also believes Kubrick not only had physical duplicities but parallel morals, “whole societies that manage to commit atrocities and then carry on as though nothing were wrong”. Blakemore emphasizes that Jack has always been a murder and is following the path of murderers before him. The Torrence family was first seen as a normal suburban family, however, as the movie progressed, their family is torn apart by the daunting ghost of the Overlook hotel.
Jack was unable to fight off the demonic forces causing him to turn against his family and morph into a monster. Jack followed in the footsteps of the previous caretaker in hopes to finally succeed at something and to have the opportunity to have his desire of sex and alcohol met. In Conclusion, Kubrick uses the shining to emphasize the idea of supernatural forces challenging our actions, motives and beliefs. Jack underestimated the supernatural forces caused him to become the target, however Wendy and Danny were able to realize the strength these ghost possessed allowing them to save themselves.