Jack Torrance of the novel is a flawed character. King introduces Jack as at the bottom of the barrel with nowhere to go, but up; yet King somehow manages to make him slowly lift up before crashing down through the hotel’s influence. Jack is haunted by his own past: beating a student for slashing his tires in a fit of rage, breaking his own son’s arm while drunk, his own father beating him and his mother as a child, his own struggles with alcoholism, and the play that he just can’t seem to finish. He is a flawed character, but King makes it so the reader does sympathize with him. It’s easy to understand why Jack wants to see what the bloody history of the Overlook has, why Jack is so tetchy at times, and why Jack is just under so much strain. King makes it so the reader wants to see Jack overcome his issues and make it through the winter, but the reader knows deep down that this isn’t going to end well. The hotel takes Jack’s fantasies, mainly an imaginary dialogue with a bartender, to begin to manifest and drive Jack insane. Giving Jack a drink is the point of no return for Jack, fully immersing himself in the clutches of the hotel and able to do its bidding. It’s this point where the pace of the novel increases in the final 100 pages as Jack goes on a rampage, taking a roque mallet and attempting to bash his wife’s brains in and give his son to the hotel.
Wendy is the innocent caught in the crossfire throughout the novel, not being necessary for the hotel, yet King still devotes large portions of the book to her point of view. Wendy has her own issues, mostly those of reconciliation with her mother, throughout the novel, yet is the one to ground her husband until Jack is taken over. She could have easily become a cliched damsel in distress, but is constantly assertive and fights back through the reasonable fear of her husband coming to kill her. Some of the serious damage to Jack is done by Wendy, stabbing a kitchen knife right into his back killing his body. Yet, this doesn’t end the horror while the hotel takes the opportunity to reanimate his corpse and continue the onslaught. The horror of the novel only ends with an explosion, destroying the Overlook. Overall, The Shining has so many intricate threads exploring the three characters and events are much deeper than any review I could write that would necessarily do the novel justice. It builds to a thrilling conclusion after a delve into the deep history, psychological horror, and finally physical horror for an excellent reading experience. 10/10.