Madness In Stephen King's The Shining

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Topics: Stanley Kubrick
The motives behind violence and madness are often consistent among seemingly unrelated people and events. While society’s questions as to why such happenings occur may go unanswered, there are definite characteristics that can be pinpointed when it comes to identifying the motives behind violent occurrences. Shakespeare’s Hamlet allows readers and viewers to fully understand and comprehend the reasoning behind Young Hamlet’s descent into madness, while other texts leave readers preoccupied with looming unanswered questions that prevent deeper analysis of cause and effect. Stephen King’s classic horror novel, The Shining, is a tale so terrifying and chaotic that readers are often too busy to analyze Jack Torrance’s descent into madness in a …show more content…
When reading The Shining, however, readers know from the very beginning that Jack’s madness is genuine. One of the main themes in The Shining is Jack’s alcoholism and his addictive personality, which he inherited from his father Mark Torrance, also an alcoholic. Many of Jack’s childhood experiences were made traumatic by his father’s alcohol usage. His father was extremely violent at times, and sometimes took to beating Jack’s mother when he was under the influence of alcohol. When Jack begins to have hallucinations while staying at the Overlook Hotel, he is able to disregard some of them and understand that they are not genuine. For example, when he hears his father’s voice through a radio telling him that he “must kill Danny and Wendy” (King 227), Jack immediately recognizes the words as a hallucination and smashes the radio. However, these hallucinations become more powerful and convincing over time, and soon begin to latch onto his addictive, impressionable personality in a way that inhibits him from utilizing any type of moral compass. Such traits are also very noticeable in Young Hamlet, who becomes malleable to the word of his father and thus makes it his duty to kill Claudius. The main similarity between Jack and Hamlet is the fact that their descent into madness is marked by the advice of their fathers to kill family

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