Paper Example. Abuse in the Shining

Published: 2023-03-14
Paper Example. Abuse in the Shining
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Violence Movie Mental disorder Substance abuse
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1531 words
13 min read

The shining, produced in 1980, is one of the films that have received extensive analysis and debate in the history of cinema (Pezzotta 16). The movie presents a complex story of Jack Torrance, the main actor, with his wife, Wendy, and son, Danny. Jack decides to become a caretaker of an isolated Hotel with the hope that the social isolation would allow him to complete his writing and brings his family with him (Pezzotta 22). Conversely, the story takes a perplexing and horrific turn with Jack being plagued by psychic illusions turning him into a homicidal maniac whose main agenda, as directed by powers beyond his control, is to terrorize his family. One of the themes that are eminent in the play is abuse. The objective of the analysis is to examine how the film represents abuse as one of the global concerns. Alcoholism and psychic disorders are the primary cause of violence within families, which spurs selfishness and hatred, amounting to even serious consequences.

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Connecting Abuse and Violence with Jack and His Family

Domestic abuse and violence are a common experience not only in the United States but globally. Almost half of the people in a relationship in the United States report being victimized by intimidating, violent, and abusive behavior from their spouses (Callaghan, 1557). To a greater extent, women are the principal victims of domestic abuse and tend to experiences severe forms of abuse.

Causes of abuse and violence in families span widely, ranging from simple misunderstanding to substance abuse. The abusers might have a misinformed belief that they are entitled to their acts, should be accepted without critics, and that they are unlikely to be reported, which makes them feel that their actions are justified (Callaghan, 1562). Domestic abuse takes various forms, including emotional, sexual, physical, financial, and spiritual abuse.

The concept of domestic abuse is well articulated in the Shining with Jack, in his psychic obsession, losing his grip and becomes overwhelmingly violent and abusive to his family. Although initial depictions before settling in the hotel present little divisions in Jack's family, the division widens and finally culminating into murder by the end of the film. Generally, the film presents human psychology as a vulnerable object to evil forces that has the power to influence how people think, feel, and act.

Although the movie director lets the audience to know that Jack Torrance is an alcoholic and canning to some extent, Jack had never thought of killing his own family and instead is overwhelmed and controlled by an evil spirit whose story is well conveyed in the movie. Jack's behavior intensifies from yelling at and ignoring his family to the horrific motivation to wipe is out. The film, in its efforts to present domestic abuse and violence, is full of symbolism, metaphors, and motifs, as discussed in the subsequent section.

Examining the Theme of Abuse in the Shining

The fate of the previous caretaker, Grady, clearly presents domestic abuse at its extreme. Jack gets to know that the former caretaker who "murdered his little girls with a hatchet, his wife with a shotgun, and himself the same way" (Kubrick & Fryer). Such inhuman occurrences are quite common in the contemporary world and emerge out of uncontrolled resentment and exasperation. For Jack, Grady's story is a sophisticated motif signifying what would later happen to him. Although he initially presents himself as a tough person not subject to "cabin fever," it overtakes him by time as the story unfolds. Cabin fever, as Jack describes it, is a claustrophobic reaction that occurs when people stay in isolation for a long time such that they begin to experience hallucinations that make them hate each other, leading to violence and even murder. Jack's definition perfectly symbolizes what he eventually becomes. He becomes physically abusive to the point that he wants to kill his family the very same way Grady did. Nonetheless, it is unclear from the film as to why Grady murdered his family.

Throughout the movie, Jack is pictured as a violent and unfriendly person who instills fear in his wife and son. Despite being his wife, Wendy is never comfortable around Jack and excuses his habits even if there are bad. When Danny was three years old, "he had stepped towards him deliberately..., grabbed Danny's hand, and bent it to make him drop the typewriter eraser," which, among other naughty acts, left the boy in trauma (Kubrick & Fryer). Jack is presented as a person who cherishes domestic fights and abuses. At one point, he describes his wife as "the old-sperm bank upstairs" (Kubrick & Fryer). Jack's approach to family reimages the role of a husband is a relationship. While it is obvious that husbands, as heads of families, require loving, caring, and taking responsibility for the family, Jack's approach suggests otherwise.

Nonetheless, it is satirical how Wendy protects him, albeit he has immoral behaviors. She tells Danny, "Your Daddy..., sometimes he does things he's sorry for later. Sometimes he doesn't think the way he should. That doesn't happen very often, but sometimes it does," (Kubrick & Fryer). Wendy sentiments present women as people who are caring and willing to subdue their suffering for the benefit of their families. Unfortunately, their sacrifices are mostly seen as meekness, providing a way to perpetuate abuse further.

Sexual abuse, which remains one of the problems in the real world, is also evident in the play. Various instances point to the argument that Jack was sexually abusing Danny. Ullman and Watson find Jack reading a Playgirl Magazine full of suggestive topics. Topics such as "INCEST: Why Parents Sleep with their Children," "INTERVIEW: THE SELLING OF DAVID SOUL," and "HOW TO AVOID A DEAD END AFFAIR" all point to something (Kubrick & Fryer). Important to note is the use of language and sentence cases in the topics. Arguably, the topics presented entirely in uppercase symbolize the actual occurrences in Jack's life. He had indeed lost the soul to the 'hotel demon' who overtook him while his marriage was indeed at its dead-end. However, the topic in the lower cases raises skepticism as to whether Jack abused his son sexually. Scenes such as 'the fatherly love scene,' 'bear costumed man scene,' and the 'psychiatric scene' suggest that Jack might have molested Danny. A sure scene of sexual abuse is Jack's encounter in room 237. A complex question worth asking about sexual abuse, as presented in the play, is, "Why is the producer concealing it while revealing other scenes of abuse?" A basic answer might be that sexual abuse in families occurs in secret and is difficult to notice in real sense unless one is keen enough to examine it.

Causes and Impacts of Abuse

The story of Jack and his family reveals two primary causes of abuse in families. First is the concept of alcoholism and its impacts. Jack Torrance is an alcoholic with an unceasing desire of imbibing who becomes careless and full of rage when drunk. He drops his infant son and intimidates and batters his wife occasionally. All his abusiveness occurs when he is drunk. The impact of alcohol on him spans beyond his family. He is pictured driving carelessly, causing damages, injuries, and even death. Nonetheless, he appears peaceful and relatively accommodative when sober.

The main idea in Jack's alcoholism is that avoiding alcohol can amount to fewer cases of abuse and can help families be receptive to each other. In fact, Jack is highly concerned about his alcoholism when sober and thinks of ways of quitting as a way of rebuilding his family love. The conflict in his mind between retraining from and taking alcohol generates a 'psychological double,' which is depicted throughout the movie. His struggle mirrors the struggle that most alcoholic men undergo. The play also depicts demonic possession as a significant cause of domestic abuse. Demonic possession, as presented in the play, generates a psychological disorder making the possessed person to unknowingly engage in acts that they later regret. Due to his numerous encounters with Lloyd and Grady and 'the naked woman,' Jack loses his memory and becomes a victim of demonic possession.


It is evident from the play that domestic abuse can take various forms and can be as a result of multiple factors. The analysis of the play discusses various physical, sexual, and emotional impacts of domestic abuse. The theme of abuse is at the core of the play, with Jack abusing Wendy and Danny in numerous ways and scenes and Jack being abused by hotel demons in many circumstances. Just like Jack, multiple men in real life have been disparaged due to their immoral behaviors that emanate from alcoholism and psychic disorders. As such, there is a need to foster family understandings and ensure that spouses take the lead in ensuring that their partners remain in good health and responsible.

Works Cited

Callaghan, Jane EM, et al. "Beyond "witnessing": Children's experiences of coercive control in domestic violence and abuse." Journal of interpersonal violence 33.10 (2018): 1551-1581.

Kubrick, Stanley, and Robert Fryer. "The Shining Film." 2017,

Pezzotta, Elisa. "A History of Kubrick Adaptations." Stanley Kubrick, 2013, pp. 15-33., doi:10.14325/mississippi/9781617038938.003.0002.

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