sábado, 16 de junho de 2012

American Gothic: Historical and Psychological Critique in Stephen King´s "The Shining" by Valdine Clemens

The Shining first appeared in 1977, in the aftermath of two major political crises. Three years earlier, President Richard Nixon had resigned under threat of impeachment in the Watergate scandal, and four years earlier American troops began their withdrawal from Vietnam, after twenty years of American intervention and a decade of war, which had come to be seen as a national "political, diplomatic, psychological, and moral disaster" for the United States (Nevins and Commager 571). Faith had been shaken, both in America's imperialist ideology and in its domestic political process. In response to this national "identity crisis," American readers and film goers developed a keen "appetite for the ... horrible" (Scott, Heart 13), and there was a growing audience for tales of terror in both film and literature—especially in the Gothic horror novels of Stephen King. (1)

The Shining is a "hair-raising" tale about a family of three who spend the winter as caretakers and sole occupants of a deserted hotel located in a remote, mountainous area of Colorado. In the summers, the Overlook Hotel is a posh resort that caters to a wealthy clientele, but in the winters, as the Torrance family discovers, it is haunted by terrifying, malevolent supernatural Ion es. The father, an aspiring, writer, is psychologically unstable; he had been victimized as a child by a brutal, alcoholic father and is constantly snuggling against his own alcoholism and violent impulses, for this reason, he is the one who succumbs to the spell of the Overlook, and he attempts to murder his wife and son. His son, however, has telepathic abilities (the "shining") and "calls" for help from the hotel's cook, who is spending the winter in Florida. On the same night that the cook returns to the Overlook, struggling through a severe snow storm, the wife battles against the insane father. Finally, in a confrontation between the father and son (the mother lying wounded on another floor), the father—or the spirits who have taken over his body—is defeated, and the hotel explodes because its defective boiler has been left untended. The cook helps the wife and son return to the nearest town. In the last chapter, or "Epilogue," the two are resting and trying to recuperate at another summer resort, where the cook has found employment.

Because the nightmare images of Gothic fiction are in a sense the harbingers of a new awareness, it is characteristic of reader response that initially people will react very strongly to a Gothic novel without fully understanding why they do so. This gap between reaction and comprehension is one of the main reasons why The Shining , when it first appeared, was generally regarded as a light but highly effective form of popular entertainment (another reason being the academic tendency to dismiss popular fiction as critically insignificant).

The quotations from reviews included at the beginning of the Signet edition indicate how powerful an effect of superstitious dread The Shining created: "harrowing and all but unbearable tension" (Worcester Telegram); "stiffens the hairs on your neck" (Triad Magazine); "will curl your hair and chill your blood" (Chatanaooga Times); "makes your flesh creep" (Dallas Times Herald); "deliciously shivery reading" (Austin American-Statesman); "Will have your heart pounding" (The Marlboro Daily Enterprise); "back-prickling" (Kirkus Review); "sends chills down your spine" (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle). However, none of the reviewers seemed able to identify precisely what it was that came back to haunt the Torrance family during their winter sojourn in the Overlook Hotel.

King has said that "everything we do has a history. No matter where you come in on any situation, you are not coming in at the beginning" (Winter 21). This sense of history is strong in The Shining , not only in its numerous allusions to the Gothic literary tradition (2) but also in a subtext that traces the formation and history of the United States up until the time of the book's publication. As one recent critic has noted, most of King's fiction is "politically charged" with contemporary social criticism (Magistrate, Landscape 24), and in The Shining this critique includes a careful examination of the historical background of the malaise that has become increasingly evident in the post-Vietnam era of American public and private life.

The Shining merges the literary traditions of American Gothic and American jeremiad, presenting a severe indictment of American political history and a warning to the nation about the perils of continuing in its present path. This conjunction of an apocalyptic warning and a tale of terror is, moreover, also in itself an American tradition. As one critic has mused, perhaps the distinction of being the first American horror writer should go to Michael Wigglesworth, whose "turgid Calvinist doggerel" in his long poem The Day of Doom (1662) "achieved great popularity in Massachusetts as a warning to the elect of the consequences of religious backsliding" (Docherty 1).

The Shining ´s Overlook Hotel functions as the traditional Gothic symbol of a haunted past; its climactic explosion and dissolution recalls Walpole's Castle of Otranto, Poe's House of Usher, and many other disintegrating Gothic structures. One theory about the Overlook's cultural significance is developed in The Shining by the father, Jack Torrance. In a phone call to his friend Al Shockley, who is a majority owner of the Overlook, Jack threatens to write an exposé of the place based on the information about corruption he has found in the basement: "I do think this place forms an index of the whole post-World War II American character" (187).

Although Jack's reading is somewhat flawed by its short-sightedness, his claim is astute, as far as it goes. The hotel, built between 1907 and 1909, was purchased after World War II by Horace Derwent—a sort of Howard Hughes "millionaire inventor, pilot, film producer, and entrepreneur"— when it became a locus of corporate and political power, and as Jack later discovers, of organized crime. When the manager, Stuart Ullman, briefs Jack for the job of winter caretaker, Ullman tells Jack that" Vanderbilts have stayed here, and Rockefellers, and Astors, and Du Ponts. Four Presidents have stayed in the Presidential Suite. Wilson, Harding, Roosevelt, and Nixon" (6).

Assuming that Ullman is listing the presidential guests chronologically, and means Franklin D. rather than Teddy Roosevelt (who was in office when the Overlook was built), the order of the names does suggest a certain cyclical oscillation between idealism and corruption in American political life; as Jack comments, "I wouldn't be too proud of Harding and Nixon" (6). In the case of Woodrow Wilson of course, the idealism was at times misguided; he played an active role in the Versailles Treaty, which ensured Germany's economic devastation after World War I. The post-World War I presidencies following Wilson—of Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover—have been described as "dull, bourgeois, and ruthless." The slogan for Harding's administration was Normalcy, yet it was characterized by

spectacular scandals. ... In the two and a half years of his tenure of office his easygoing acquiescence in the exploitation of government by big business and his tolerance of gross corruption amply justified the expectations of those who looked for an end to idealism Government withdrew from business, but business moved in and shaped most government policies. (Nevins and Commager 410, 408, 406). The hotel's connection with political scandal is underscored when Watson, the Overlooks maintenance man, says to Jack, "Any big hotels have got scandals. . . . Just like every big hotel has got a ghost" (22).

The mention of both Roosevelt and "Tricky Dick" Nixon suggests the sense of decline in the public trust that accompanied the increasing concentrations of private and corporate wealth in post-World War II America. The country's growing economic inequity is also hinted at in several references to the corporate lawyers who have frequented the hotel, one of them married to the woman who became the withered old hag that keeps emerging as a rotting corpse from the bathtub of room 217.

In keeping with the theme of political/economic corruption, it is appropriate that the devil who lures Jack into the Faustian bargain appears as a powerful CEO who will give him the "world" in exchange for his soul. As the ghostly Grady tells him, "the manager" might reward his cooperation ("bringing" them his son and eliminating his wife), by promoting Jack "in the Overlook's organizational structure. Perhaps ... to the very top" (344, 381,351).

The entire family receives hints of the hotel's unsavory past in glimpses and traces of the patties that took place there, and when Jack falls under its spell, he sees in some detail the sexual perversions and moral degradation that the hotel has witnessed. Danny sees in one of his visions blood and grey brain matter spattered all over the wall of the Presidential Suite—psychic evidence of a gangland murder committed there in 1966 (93-94, 164, 248). At one point before Danny learns to read, he thinks his father referred to one of his trances as a "Ha Loo Sin Nation (28; my emphasis), a linguistic mistake that also indicates the symbolic connection between the crimes at the Overlook and Americas sinful past.

The culmination of this political and social history is the nightmare of nuclear war, manifested in The Shining by the final explosive destruction of the Overlook Hotel. Numerous references are made throughout the novel to the aggressive military history of the United States, especially since World War II. Its interference in Third World countries in the interests of American private enterprise is commented on by the woman sitting beside the Overlook's summer chef, Dick Hallorann, when he is flying from Miami to Colorado to rescue Danny. She notices his startled reaction to a telepathic message from Danny, and Hallorann lies to her that it was just due to the vibration during take-off of a steel plate in his head: "From Korea." She bristles in reply, "It is the soldier who ultimately pays for any military intervention," and declares, "This country must swear off its dirty little wars. The CIA has been at the root of every dirty little war America has fought in this century. The CIA and dollar diplomacy" (339). She later tells him that she has "seen the horrors" of one of those wars, next to which concern for her personal safety "pales into insignificance." After landing, she flashes him the peace sign popularized during the anti-Vietnam War protests of the sixties (in which Jack participated after his brother, Brett, was killed in battle; 225), and Hallorann, on picking up her "shine," regrets having lied to her (357, 360).

The phrase dollar diplomacy goes back to the pre-World War I presidency of "Teddy" Roosevelt and the policies of his appointed successor W. H. Taft. The United States's first major foreign intervention occurred during this period when Roosevelt, an exponent of the "big stick" approach that recurs throughout The Shining , bypassed formal diplomatic procedures and "took" (his word) from Colombia the strip of land through which the Panama Canal was built. The orchestration of this event included a "revolt" by the Panamanians ostensibly quelled by American soldiers, which actually never occurred, although it was reported by the American newspapers (Nevins and Commager 370-73, 390). The date of the Overlooks construction—one year after the first official visit made by an American president outside the United States, when Roosevelt visited the Canal Zone in 1906 (3)—also connects the hotel symbolically with American transgressions in international relations during the twentieth century.

More significant historical moments are unearthed when Jack scrounges through the papers in the basement of the Overlook. The first item he finds is an old order for four hundred cases of toilet tissue—an apt symbol for all the "dirty business" that has been expelled from America's idea of itself. The second is a newspaper headline dated 19 December, 1963, about the "ORDERLY TRANSITION" Lyndon Johnson promised after John F. Kennedy was assassinated (153). Then when Jack is about to leave the basement, he discovers an old invitation, with an engraving of the Overlook lit up at night by Japanese lanterns, to a masked ball being held August 29, 1945—the month that World War II ended after the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is the same masked ball that keeps returning in ghostly fashion to terrorize the Torrance family.

One detail that serves as a reminder that cold war anxiety was still a disturbing part of American life when The Shining first appeared is the "Cossack" fur hat worn by the first policeman Dick Hallorann meets after his flight (360). There is also reference to Jack's and Danny's fondness for the television shows "Secret Agent Man" and "The Avengers," in which the heroes and heroine wage mock battles against evil KGB agents (285). The Nixon-Ford administration had built up American military "protection" against the Soviet "threat" in an effort to recover national credibility after the international humiliation caused by the fiasco of Vietnam. Ford, who believed "that the chief executive should be a caretaker, not a leader," urged '"fiscal discipline' in his veto of the 1976 Education Appropriation Act, [and] ... in the same year, requested an eleven billion dollar increase in military spending" (Nevins and Commager 596-97). The arms build-up continued during and after the publication of The Shining because "the forces supporting the Cold War were no longer susceptible to logic" (Nevins and Commager 612; President Carter, elected in 1976, initiated some minor arms reduction treaties with the Soviet Union, but his efforts for peace were largely unsuccessful).

The nuclear threat is also evoked in The Shining when Jack is about to give Danny the nest of the wasps he exterminated by means of the Overlooks "bug bomb." His wife, Wendy, asks him if he is sure it is safe, and he replies, "I followed the directions on the bomb" (120). Later, when more wasps mysteriously emerge from the nest and sting Danny, Jack begins to suspect that following the directions will not necessarily ensure safety. He insists that the wasps' resurgence must have been due to a defect in the bomb and says he will sue the manufacturer, but when he sees the multitude of wasps that have come out of the nest (now under a clear Pyrex bowl), he thinks, "How had it happened? How in God's name?" (134, 136).

Because Jack underestimates the Overlook's symbolic significance, he cannot begin to answer that question. The Overlook on its lofty mountain peak not only represents the failure of the American Dream since World War II, but it also represents the failure of the original promise of the City on the Hill, the dream of Americas Puritan forefathers. The Puritan faction that emerged dominant in the conflicts of the New England settlements justified the ruthless genocide of American Indians with the rationale that the new settlers were fulfilling God's providential promise, (4) and faith in an overruling Providence continued to be a cornerstone of Jeffersonian democracy.

The cultural imprint of this originating delusion is suggested in Jack's memory of the time he and Al Shockley were driving in Al's Jaguar (an up-dated Gatsby death car, of which there are many in The Shining ) (5) both extremely drunk. They collided with a bicycle lying in the middle of the road but "Providentially," in Al's words, no one was killed. Jack also thought later that "some queer providence . . . had kept the cops away" (39, 40). The analogue is clear: the hotel's greatest weakness, the defective boiler, can be located in its basement, its foundation—just as the nation's greatest weakness can be found in the original premises upon which it was built.

Like the classic Gothic villain, American society is haunted by its own past crimes, from which its victims rise up as ghosts. Danny remembers seeing a child's puzzle that said, "(Can you see the Indians in this picture?)" and later, three days after Thanksgiving, he thinks of that question again when the hedge animals are about to attack him (193, 287). During their stay in Boulder, the Torrance family resides on Arapahoe [sic] Street (13, 33, 56), named after an Indian tribe whose members, with a larger group of Cheyennes, suffered a savage massacre at the hands of some "ill-trained and drunken militia" on 28 November 1864 at Sand Creek in Colorado (Hoxie 163). The victims of this "infamous" event were "mostly women and children, who thought they had been granted peace and military protection" (Washburn, Handbook 168). Similarly, Wendy and Danny discover that the man who has taken them to an apparently peaceful mountain retreat, where they hope to find refuge from the family's financial troubles, becomes a drunken, violent, murderous maniac. Jack's attempt to kill his own wife and child, which culminates in the final destruction of the Overlook, occurs four days after the anniversary of the Sand Creek slaughter (306, 310). (6)

Jack tries to kill Wendy and Danny only after he has succumbed to the spell of the Overlook; in effect, his personal family violence has been endorsed and encouraged by the national tradition of inter-racial violence that the Overlook represents. In the case of the Arapaho, their annihilation was undertaken "with full knowledge and consent" of Governor John Evans and his superior officers, to whom the Cheyenne and Arapaho had previously given most of their guns, keeping only enough for hunting, as part of their agreement to maintain peace. The natives' trust was further violated when the Indian villagers first saw the soldiers on the river bluffs above them and the chief bought out an American Hag and a smaller white one to signify their truce, but to no avail. As six Indian warriors rode to greet the troops, the seven hundred armed men, led by the "bloodthirsty" Colonel Chivington, a former Methodist minister, attacked:

Women with their children clustered around them begged for mercy, but they were shot, stabbed, and many were scalped before death overtook them. The screams of the dying and wounded brought no halt to the bloody attack. . . . Before the fight was over, four twelve-pound howitzers were brought into action and blew the remaining defenders to pieces.


The few remaining survivors, mostly children, found hidden in the lodges were butchered in cold blood. . . . From the "hell" of Sand Creek, [the soldiers] brought out over 100 scalps which were later displayed between acts at the Denver Opera House. Three small bewildered Indian children were also exhibited as proof of this "great victory" over the Cheyenne. (Peithmann 64-69)

Four years later a congressional inquiry was held, whose final report condemned the "barbarity" of the massacre, which had already inflamed relations between whites and Indians to the point that peaceful resolution of their conflicts had become impossible. Of course, this was neither the first nor the last time that English and American soldiers distinguished themselves by their savagery; earlier there was the Pequot slaughter of 1637 and the Great Swamp Fight of 1675, and later there was the My Lai massacre of 1969. (7)

The Overlook Hotel occupies land to which the Arapaho, one of the last nomadic tribes to submit to reservation life, once had free access. Not until 1875, their arms removed and their leaders dispatched to a Florida prison, did they capitulate to the demands of the American government— demands that constituted, in effect, a less blatant but equally devastating policy of cultural genocide. "Pacified" and "demoralized," the Southern Plains Indians "settled down to the routines of reservation life," and over the next sixty years witnessed an almost continuous violation of the original territorial agreements in repeated reductions of their reservation land (Washburn 4: 224-27).

As in Danny's puzzle, the Indians have become virtually invisible in the "picture" of modern American life, but their old animistic world revives into an intense hostility when the Overlook is left alone in the mountain wilderness for the winter, with the fierce wind "whooping" and "scream[ing]" around it (210, 213, 245). At one point it sounds like a "womanish shriek" (212), and later it reminds Wendy of "a woman fleeing a murderer in a cheap melodrama" (392). When Dick Hallorann approaches the Overlook, he feels "surrounded by a red force of immense power that might have been memory. He was drowning in instinct" (389). Native spirits "come back" like the wasps Jack thought he had exterminated (136), to the hotel that is in King's words a "symbol of unexpiated sin" (Danse253). (8) Danny says to his mother, "The Bad Stuff... There was none of it here before, was there?" and she replies "No. The hotel put it here" (371). Specifically, Danny and Wendy are referring to the alcohol that Jack has evidently consumed, but their comments also can be applied more generally to the effect that "civilized" European Americans had on the life of Americas original human inhabitants.

The opening epigraph in The Shining , from Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death," can also be connected with the "Red Death" wreaked upon the remaining native Americans during the years of the frontier movement. This movement is alluded to at the beginning of The Shining when Danny examines some maps as a way of passing time while waiting in the car for his father. He thinks, "Colorado, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico. ... As far as he was concerned, new maps were the best part of moving West" (35). But this later wave of the original Errand into the Wilderness (9) became yet another monumental Error in the Wilderness, as the white man continued to follow the genocidal policy established by the first settlers in the New World.

In The Shining , the psychic shock experienced by the westward-moving settlers as they discovered America's "untamed" frontier is registered by Wendy. She finds herself thinking repeatedly about the Donner party, the group that resorted to cannibalism when stranded in the Sierra Nevada: "The mountains did not forgive many mistakes" (10) (62, 63, 73, 92, 199). Jack hears "Home on the Range" as part of the kaleidoscope of sound at the "party" in the Colorado lounge (348), and earlier when Danny asks him about REDRUM, Jack, thinking of "red drum," comments that it "sounds like something an Indian might take on the warpath" (128).

It has been argued that the idea of "Manifest Destiny," which fuelled the westward movement, has extended to the more recent American military involvement in Asia, and the interplay of allusions in The Shining does seem to convey this historical momentum. More bombs were dropped on Vietnam by the American military during the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations than were dropped by all the allied forces during World War II, and there were an estimated one and one-half million Vietnamese civilian casualties (Nevins and Commager 569). At the beginning of the seemingly enlightened administration of Jack Kennedy, American military involvement in Vietnam expanded to include "defoliation operations, and population removal . . . which forced the peasants to resettle and thus destroyed traditional village life" (Nevins and Commager 565). (11) When Jack Torrance throws rotted shingles off the roof of the hotel, he calls out a warning that also can be applied to the excessive military aggression of the United States: "Bombs away" (106). (12) As Jack's father once said to him, "turning to Jacky with a smile," after smoking out a wasps' nest the way that his own father had showed him, "Fire will kill anything" (329)—an unsettling observation, to a generation of readers who have witnessed photo-documentary coverage of napalm's effects. (13)

One of King's strategies for "bringing home" the horrors of America's interracial and international violence is to ally them with domestic violence. At one point, Danny remembers his father reading the folktale "Bluebeard" to him when Jack was drunk and Danny was only three years old. Danny remembers the "ghastly, loving detail" with which the old fairy tale book illustrated the young wife's discovery, when she disobeyed Bluebeard's order not to unlock the door of the forbidden room:


The image was burned on Danny's mind. The severed heads of Bluebeard's seven previous wives were in the room, each one on its own pedestal, the eyes turned up to whites, the mouths unhinged and gaping in silent screams. They were somehow balanced on necks ragged from the broadsword's decapitating swing, and there was blood running down the pedestals. Terrified, she had turned to flee from the room and the castle, only to discover Bluebeard standing in the doorway, his terrible eyes blazing. "I told you not to enter this room," Bluebeard said, unsheathing his sword. (170)

Danny recognizes that although the tale was titled "Bluebeard," it was actually about Bluebeard's wife, a lady whose corn-colored hair reminds him of his mother. Danny also notices the similarity between Bluebeard s "big and ominous castle" and the Overlook (169). His connecting the story to his own family circumstances indirectly suggests the persistence of patriarchal privilege and the silencing of the feminine voice in a modern American family such as the Torrances. The tacit agreement between Jack and Wendy is that he possesses the superior intellect and is entitled to indulge in the patronizing tone he uses so frequently when explaining things to her.

There are repeated reminders in The Shining of how pervasive family violence has become in contemporary American life. At the outset of the novel, Ullman tells Jack about the Overlook's previous caretaker Grady, who killed his little girls with an axe, and his wife and himself with a shot-gun (9). Shortly thereafter, Wendy thinks about the couple living above their Boulder apartment suite who engage in drunken weekend battles where the woman ends up crying, "Don't, Tom. Please don't. Please don't" (9, 11). Later, Danny remembers a friend whose "daddy had punched his mom right in the eye and knocked her down" when doing the "Bad Thing" (i.e., drinking; 27).

As well, it is possible that in focusing on domestic violence in The Shining , King may have been influenced by the first American Gothic novel, Charles Brockden Brown's Wieland, (14) also a tale about a mans at-tempt (in this case successful) to murder his wife and children, and also a highly political fable. Printed in 1798, the fictional setting of Wieland is Pennsylvania in the 1760s, the period preceding the formation of the United States as an independent territory, "between the conclusion of the French and the beginning of the Revolutionary War" (Brown, "Advertisement" to Wieland24). Like Jack Torrance, Theodore Wieland hears a voice commanding him to kill his family. He suffers the delusion that the voice is Gods and believes he has received a divine injunction to demonstrate his faith and obedience through this act (184-87). The political import of this seemingly apolitical story is suggested by the fact that the first thing Brown did after writing it was to send a copy to Thomas Jefferson, then vice president of the United States.

As Jane Tompkins has demonstrated, Wieland appeared during an anxious and unsettled post-Revolutionary period, entering into "a dialogue that had engaged civic-minded men and women since the age of Locke and Rousseau over the nature of man, the proper form of civic representation, and the right of citizens to overthrow their government" (47). Tompkins argues that the deracinated Wieland family presents "a direct refutation of the Republican faith in men's capacity to govern themselves without the supports and constraints of an established social order" (49). Wieland, who admits to having "thirsted for the knowledge of [God's] will" (Wieland 184), "fills the vacuum of authority by inventing a source of authority outside himself whose 'commands' he feels bound to obey" (Tompkins 53-54). It is Wieland, "the devout, well-educated farmer, the very epitome of the man on whom Jeffersonians staked their vision of Republican order," who collapses morally and psychologically, and "his 'Transformation' from sturdy yeoman to homicidal maniac is intended, as Brown's subtitles tell us, as a prototypically 'American Talc'" (Tompkins 53, 58).

Tompkins asserts that " Wieland is a patriotic novel: its main action, in an attempt to alert people to the dangers of mob rule, realizes the federalist nightmare" (58). King's work similarly evidences a skeptical attitude toward American democracy; Tony Magistrate has commented that in The Dead Zone, for example, King's depiction of how one character succeeds in becoming president indicates the author's "tacit agreement with Alexis De Tocqueville's derisive warning in Democracy in America against the tendency toward collective misjudgment inherent in the American political system" (Landscape 35). However, the warning in The Shining is more specific, for it points to the dangerous consequences of both maintaining an aggressive military policy and failing to acknowledge historical guilt.

In The Shining , as in Wieland, there is some speculation about the ontological status of the supernatural, although in Brown's novel the mad father believes himself to be acting under divine injunction, while in Kings he appears to be under the influence of daemonic forces. Whereas in Wieland debate is expressed in terms of the late eighteenth-century op-position between Enlightenment rationalism and "Gothic superstition," in The Shining it is presented as a contrast between Freudian and Jungian psychological perspectives—a contrast that forms an important component of the novel's critique of contemporary attitudes.

Debate about the paranormal in The Shining focuses initially on the issue of the apparent telepathic powers of Danny, the five-year-old protagonist: specifically, his abilities to "pick up" other people's thoughts, to find lost objects with no prior knowledge of their location, and to foretell future events, usually with the assistance of his invisible friend "Tony" (Danny's full name is Daniel Anthony Torrance). Concerned about Danny's "trances" and worried that his physical and emotional condition seems to have declined since the family moved into the Overlook Hotel, his parents take him to the physician in nearby Sidewinder, "Dr. ('Just call me Bill') Edmonds" (137).

Dr. Edmonds offers the Torrances an admittedly "oversimplified" Freudian interpretation of the problem. After examining Danny, he tells Jack and Wendy that their son is simply "too imaginative" and that Danny has been suffering from the emotional trauma of the recent family dislocations:

From what Danny told me, his "invisible friend" was truly a friend until you folks moved out here from New England. Tony has only become a threatening figure since that move. The pleasant interludes have become nightmarish, even more frightening to your son because he can't remember exactly what the nightmares are about. That's common enough. We all remember our pleasant dreams more clearly than the scary ones. There seems to be a buffer somewhere between the conscious and the subconscious, and one hell of a bluenose lives in there. This censor only lets through a small amount, and often what does come through is only symbolic. That's oversimplified Freud, but it does pretty much describe what we know of the minds interaction with itself. (151; my emphasis)

Dr. Edmonds's explanation refers to Freud's insight about how unconscious material can undergo a process of revision before it is registered by the conscious mind. But the doctors excremental (or toilet) metaphor in his Statement that Danny is now "flushing [Tony] out of his system" (150) reveals a failure to appreciate either the potential value of the unconscious or the idea that the unconscious "speaks" in a symbolic language that one « an learn to read. Dr. Edmonds is simply revealing his own ignorance when he asserts that his explanation sums up "what we know of the mind's intention with itself." The well-meaning doctor also literally shrugs off Danny's telepathic ability as simply a product of " [w]ish fulfillment plus a lucky coincidence" (148).

Dr. Edmonds also betrays a tendency to dismiss any information thai does not tally with his theory. During the examination, when Wendy is waiting in a room outside, Danny says that he knows his mother is thinking about her sister, who was killed by a van at the age of six. At the end of the visit, Dr. Edmonds asks Wendy if Danny had ever been told about the circumstances of the sister's death. Although she replies negatively, Edmonds does not consider this information (nor Danny's mention of the anagram redrum, nor his use of the word shining) to be signifit am enough to warrant any revision of his assessment (150-51).

Wendy and Jack initially demonstrate the unquestioning acquiescence of the anxious client who longs to rely on the security that the doctor's authority seems to afford. When Wendy tries to suggest that Danny might have "second sight," Dr. Edmonds reassuring smile becomes "a good, hearty laugh," which leads them to smile as well, both "amazed at how easy" it is; "Danny's occasional 'lucky guesses' about things was something else they had not discussed much" (146-47). Relieved by the fact that during their own discussion with Dr. Edmonds the issues of divorce, alcoholism, and child beating have been brought into the open for the first time, Wendy and Jack momentarily accept his interpretation of Danny's "problem." Yet at the same lime Wendy is dissatisfied; the doctors explanation strikes her as "glib" and tasting "more like margarine than butter" (148). Back at the Overlook some time later, when the dangers of their situation are becoming more apparent, she declares unequivocally to Jack, "The doctor was full of shit and we both know it. We've known all the time" (247).

The enlightened, scientific view of such matters offered by Dr. Edmonds can offer only temporary comfort to Danny's parents, and their dilemma illustrates the limitations of a theory that rejects the possibility of a transpersonal dimension to the psyche. Dr. Edmonds's quick dismissal of any facts that might upset his views also exposes the fallacy of his supposed scientific objectivity.

was continually revising his own theories, but he generally espoused the superiority of the scientific viewpoint. In Totem and Taboo, he states that because human views about the universe have progressed from the animistic to the religious to the final, scientific stage (13: 90), superstition in a civilized individual may be regarded as a sign of obsessional neurosis (13: 86). When discussing how even in the closest human relationships feelings are never pure or unmixed, he also makes the argument that in primitive societies malevolent ghosts are simply "projections of [repressed] hostile feelings harboured by the survivors against the dead" (13: 62).

Danny has some appreciation of the dangerous power of scientific/psychoanalytic authority with regard to the question of telepathic ability. He initially refrains from telling his parents about the unsettling things he thinks he sees at the Overlook because he does not want them to think he is "LOSING HIS MARBLES." He fears that he could be taken to a "BUGHOUSE or a SANNYTARIUM"; "THE MEN IN THE WHITE COATS . . . took you away from your family and made you live in a room with soft walls. And if you wanted to write home, you had to do it with Crayolas" (194, 195).

In "The Uncanny," Freud suggests that some people are still susceptible to any apparent confirmation of "old, discarded beliefs" because they do not "feel quite sure" about their new beliefs, and this experience gives rise to a sense of the uncanny, or "unheimlich," which in his definition is "that class of the frightening which leads back to what is known of old and long familiar" (17: 220). Freud asserts that "anyone who has completely and finally rid himself of animistic beliefs will be insensible to this type of uncanny . . . none of these things will disconcert him. ... [It is] purely an affair of 'reality-testing,' a question of the material reality of the phenomena" (17: 248; my emphasis).

Although Freud had some interest in the occult, his scientific framework does not admit any transpersonal or immaterial dimension to the human psyche, as he explains in one discussion on dreams:


During the epoch which may be described as pre-scientific, men had no difficulty in finding an explanation of dreams. When they remembered a dream after waking up, they regarded it as either a favourable or a hostile manifestation by higher powers, daemonic and divine. When modes of thought belonging to natural science began to flourish, all this ingenious mythology was transformed into psychology, and to-day only a small minority of educated people doubt that dreams are a product of the dreamer s own mind. (5: 633)

His own ingenious explanation of one patient's premonitory dream is similar to Dr. Edmonds's explanation of Danny's sensitivity, in that it stresses the role of coincidence and emphasizes censorship and revision, of both an unacceptable memory and the original dream. Freud insists that when his patient Frau B. ("an estimable woman who moreover possesses a critical sense" [5: 623]) thought that she had dreamed of seeing an old friend shortly before running into him in the same place she had dreamt about, she must have substituted the figure of this friend for that of an old lover with a similar name. Freud further argues that she must have recast the locale of her dream in order to allow it entry into consciousness. In other words, she never dreamed the dream she thought she had dreamed. "Thus the creation of a dream after the event, which alone makes prophetic dreams possible, is nothing other than a form of censoring, thanks to which the dream is able to make its way through into consciousness" (5: 625).

In contrast to Frau B., Danny does receive some affirmation that he can trust his telepathic powers. When he talks to Dick Hallorann, who is about to leave for his winter vacation, the cook seems to adopt the Jungian view that there is a collective dimension to the human psyche that operates outside the normal space/time framework of conscious thought: "What you got, son, I call it shinin on, the Bible calls it having visions, and there's scientists that call it precognition. I've read up on it, son. I've studied on it. They all mean seeing the future" (85). When Danny observes to his mother that the doctor did not believe in Tony, she assures him that she does, despite the fact that she does not "know what he is or who he is, if he's a part of you [Danny] that's special or if he comes from . . . somewhere outside." She also expresses her willingness to heed Tony's advice (200).

Dick's later journey (o rescue Danny also brings up the epistemological problem of "shining." The Colorado park ranger whom Dick phones from the Miami airport is skeptical about Dick's worry that there might be trouble at the Overlook, asking, "May I ask how you've come by this information, sir?" (337). Then again, when Dick is driving through a blizzard to Sidewinder, the man who tows him out of a snowdrift asks the same thing, in response to Dick's assertion that Danny is in trouble: "How would you know that?" (386). Dick's temper snaps at this point, but a little later on the man helping him muses, "Ain't no way you could know someone's in trouble up there . . . But I believe you. Sometimes I get feelins" (388).

The idea that this information may be relied on, even though it has no rational basis and cannot be fully understood, comes up in Wendy's response to the uncanny events happening at the Overlook. She clearly appreciates the menace and thinks that it does not matter at this point how one interprets what is happening, whether "(Real psychic phenomena or group hypnosis?). . . . [It] was just as deadly either way" (391).

Dick suggests in his conversation with Danny that although not all people seem to have the capacity for shining, it may nevertheless have a universal, instinctual component; "I think all mothers shine a little, you know, at least until their kids grow up enough to watch out for themselves" (88). His comment can be related to another critical theoretical difference between Jung and Freud, with regard to the role of instinct, its relation to the conscious mind, and the dynamics of instinctual repression.

In Totem and Taboo, Freud argues that repression of the instincts may be regarded as "a measure of the level of civilization that has been reached" (13: 97). Although he does acknowledge that children and primitive people seem to possess a "fullness and delicacy of feeling" that may be underestimated (13: 99), his model for both individual and human cultural development is one of successive and discrete stages, in which one stage "surmounts" another and the success of the final stage depends on the degree to which the instinctual impulses of the lower stages are resisted. Because such impulses can only be repressed and not abolished by cultural prohibitions, the relation between prohibition and instinct, or conscious and unconscious aims, is frequently one of "continuing conflict" (13: 29). This constant censorship battle often can be draining, as Freud himself recognized: "[W]e men, with the high claims of our civilization and under the pressure of our repressions, find reality generally quite unsatisfactory and so keep up a life of fancy in which we love to compensate for what is lacking in the sphere of reality by the production of wish-fulfillments" ("Origin of Psychoanalysis" 31). He then identifies neurosis and artistic creation as the negative and positive methods of evading reality by producing such wish fulfillment.

Freud's analysis provides an apt description of Jack, a deeply miser-able and unhappy man who has failed to confront the sources of his own rage and anger; he consequently fails both in his struggle to repress those feelings and in his aspiration to become a great writer. Wendy's hopeful thoughts about Jack's current writing project suggest the elements of repression and personal wish fulfillment that are involved in it: "[H]er husband seemed to be slowly closing a huge door on a roomful of monsters. He had his shoulder to that door for a long time now, but at last it was swinging shut" (121). Jack's personal agenda and his increasing identification with the abuser also become evident in his changing attitude to the characters in the play he is writing. He originally conceived of the play's primary theme as "the abuse of power" in a private school, but he later begins to see it as depicting the "destruction of a kindly old teacher" (259).

The futility of Jack's response to his inner demons suggests the limitations of a strictly Freudian approach. Perhaps the major weakness in Freud's theory is its reliance on a basically static model that fails to account adequately either for the dynamics of the conflict he is proposing or for its therapeutic and creative possibilities. Jung, in contrast, dissatisfied with Freud's "mechanistic" view, developed his own "energic" model in which transformation of the conscious attitude becomes possible through an exchange of energy with the unconscious. While not disputing the idea that consciousness tends to put up an "extraordinary resistance" against the unconscious, Jung maintains that the unconscious acts in a "compensatory or complementary manner towards the conscious" and that the distinction between conscious and unconscious material should not be imagined as a fixed boundary but rather as a "threshold [of] intensity," which elements must attain before they become apparent to the conscious mind (Structure 112, 69).

From the Jungian perspective, Jack's emotional difficulties can be viewed as symptomatic of the civilized "man" for whom, Jung argues, "the rationalism of consciousness, otherwise so useful to him, proves to be a most formidable obstacle to the frictionless transformation of energy" (Structure 24). Jung compares the conscious mind's evasion tactics to that of a man who "hears a suspicious noise in the attic and thereupon dashes down into the cellar, in order to assure himself that no burglar has broken in and that the noise was mere imagination. In reality he has simply not dared to go up into the attic" (Structure 99).

A similar idea is suggested at the outset of The Shining , via the traditional Gothic analogy between castle/church (or hotel) architecture and the human psyche, when Jack and his new employer, Stuart Ullman, look over the floor plans of the hotel. Ullman informs Jack that there is nothing in the attic but bric-a-brac because "each successive manager has put everything they don't want up in the attic" (4). Ullman instructs Jack to put rat traps and poison bait up there because "[s]ome of the third-floor chambermaids say they have heard rustling noises," even though he himself does not "believe it." (4). He later comments that the basement, with its boiler that must be carefully maintained by the caretaker, is "[w]here the action is" (5). As Jack gradually succumbs to his own psychological and emotional disintegration, he does in fact spend more and more time in the basement, attempting to piece together the history of the Overlook Hotel from the old newspapers and records he finds down there. But "the vital clues, the connections that would make everything clear," elude him (326).

With his own personal history of family violence, Jack, like the defective boiler, is always in danger of "blowing." His alcoholic father physically abused his wife and children, and although one of Jack's most vivid memories is of the time his father cracked his mothers skull by smashing a cane on it, Jack nevertheless can recall feelings of deep affection and attachment for the man. His bond with his mother, a "good," passive Catholic woman (who somehow survived the attack and outlived her husband), was comparatively weak, but as Jack collapses emotionally, his violent thoughts about Wendy clearly indicate not only the emotional imprint made by the abusive father but also a great deal of unconscious rage at the ineffectual mother who failed to defend her children against the father's excesses. At one point, Jack remembers a published short story of his in which he explored the family background of a child molester, "the father a beater as his own father had been, the mother a limp and silent dishrag as his mother had been" (258).

Jack's method of dealing with his family history is summed up in his recollection of his father's death and funeral: "[T]he man who had dominated Jacky's life, the irrational white ghost-god, was under ground" (226). However, his attempt to bury family history proves to be fruitless, for the ghost returns when Jack eventually becomes possessed by his own fury and finds himself compelled to externalize that history by re-enacting it.

Ironically, in trying to resist the promptings of his unconscious mind by relying increasingly on a rationalistic perspective, Jack only makes him-self more vulnerable to possession by the unconscious. Even when he is already experiencing his own daemonic visions, he attempts to deny both his own and Danny's experiences by dismissing them as merely hallucinations. After Danny's near-fatal encounter with the zombie in Room 217, Jack goes to investigate the room; in a chapter titled "The Verdict," he lies that he found nothing there (256). Afraid that he himself is "cracking up" (255), he tries to convince both himself and Wendy that the ghost was simply a subconscious projection of Danny's and that their son may be suffering a "limited type" of schizophrenia (266-67). When Jack speculates to Wendy about the probable subjective nature of Danny's visions, his associative train of thought reveals the weakening of his own reasoning powers:

If precognitive trances are possible, they're probably functions of the subconscious mind. Freud said that the subconscious never speaks to us in literal language. Only in symbols. . . . Games, little games. Conscious on one side of the net, subconscious on the other, serving some cockamamie image back and forth. Same with mental illness, with hunches, all of that. Why should precognition be any different? Maybe Danny really did see blood all over the walls of the Presidential Suite. To a kid his age, the image of blood and the concept of death are nearly interchangeable. To kids, the image is always more accessible than the concept, anyway. William Carlos Williams knew that, he was a pediatrician. (264-65)

Like Dr. Edmonds, Jack both underestimates the significance of the symbol-making activity of the "subconscious" and overestimates the difficulty of comprehending that activity.

His comments once again point to a significant difference between Jung and Freud, this time regarding the nature and function of images in dreams. In Freud's view, images are "hallucinations" that "replace thoughts" (Interpretation 82); the a priori verbal form "is replaced" by the image, which invariably has been stimulated by a previous sensory impression: "[N]ot only representability, but the interests of condensation and the censorship as well, can be the gainers from this exchange" (Interpretation 375). A consistent pattern in Freud's interpretation of patients' dreams is that of translating the delusive visual images into a "true" verbal description of the dreamer's personal dilemma.

Jung's disagreement with Freud on this issue is directly related to Jung's contentions that the human psyche includes a collective aspect and that intensification of unconscious activity may indicate not only the need to change the conscious attitude but also the means of changing it. Jung allows for the personal component in unconscious image making, as well as for an impersonal component, in the archetypal image. The shadow, the wise old man, the anima, the divine child, and a multitude of symbols of transformation are some of the archetypes he explores. Jung does not share Freud's assumption about the primacy of the verbal component and argues that all ideas are "founded on primordial archetypal forms whose concreteness dates from a time when consciousness did not think, but only perceived" (Archetypes 33). When one learns to read these images symbolically rather than semiotically, as "the best possible expression for a complex fact not yet apprehended by consciousness" rather than merely "a sign for elementary instinctual processes" (Structure 75), one can begin to benefit from the way "the unconscious 'thinks' and paves the way for solutions" (Archetypes 33).

Several comments throughout The Shining suggest the idea that human story-telling, from folk tale to Gothic tale, may work in a manner similar to the one Jung attributes to individual dreams, making similar use of images to identify collective problems. When Danny remembers his father reading "Bluebeard" to him, what he thinks of are the images: "It seemed vaguely to Danny that the story had had a happy ending, but that had paled to insignificance beside the two dominant images: the taunting, maddening locked door with some great secret behind it, and the grisly secret itself, repeated more than half a dozen times. The locked door and behind it the heads, the severed heads" (170). Whereas on the social level the tale points to the issue of domestic violence, on the psychological level the image also exposes civilized man's "grisly secret"—the sheer savagery of which he is still capable. The irresistibility of the urge to unlock the secret, on the part of both Danny and Bluebeard's wife, also indicates the tremendous pressure exerted by the old forgotten or ignored contents of the unconscious to make themselves known. This is a major impulse behind Gothic fiction: not simply to indulge in wish fulfillment of unacceptable instinctual impulses, but to unlock such doors and to reveal a fuller view of human nature than is generally held.

Wendy and Jack are both a great deal more resistant to the dark truths lurking in the Overlook Hotel than Danny is, and Danny is well aware of their reason for denying a phenomenon such as "Tony" as a valid source of information: "Because it was frightening, they swept it quickly from their minds" (30). Yet Wendy's denial is never as vehement as Jack's, partly be-cause her family background was not as physically violent and partly be-cause her intellectual defenses against the truth are not as great as his. That Wendy is less intellectually oriented than Jack is suggested by the details that she studied sociology (as opposed to English literature) in college and reads Victoria Holt novels (47, 61). Jack continues to rationalize what is happening to them at the Overlook long after Wendy recognizes the danger they are in, and it is Jack, as he himself realizes at one point, who is the "weak link" in the chain that should protect them from the daemonic forces threatening to overwhelm them (278-79).

Jack's susceptibility illustrates Jung's argument about the dangers of excessive reliance on conscious will and intellect:

The psyche of civilized man is no longer a self-regulating system but could rather be compared to a machine whose speed-regulation is so insensitive that it can continue to function to the point of self-injury.


In the intensity of the emotional disturbance itself [i.e. regression] lies the value, the energy which he should have at his disposal in order to remedy the state of reduced adaption. Nothing is achieved by repressing this state or by devaluing it rationally. (Structure, 79, 82)

In his discussion of psychic self-regulation, Jung also uses the biblical ex-ample of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel, who correctly read the warning in Nebuchadnezzar's dream; but the tyrant, who never heard the warning, subsequently "fell victim to a psychosis that contained the very counter-action he had sought to escape: he, the lord of the earth, was degraded to an animal" (Structure 80-81). It is not difficult here to draw a connection between the biblical Nebuchadnezzar and Jack, who ignores the warnings offered by his visionary son, Daniel.

Jack, too, degenerates into a bestial state, but unlike Nebuchadnezzar he is too hopelessly entrapped in his delusions to ever emerge from it. While the winter storm "howl[s]" around the hotel (364), Wendy and Danny fight for their lives against him. He cries that Wendy should be "chastised" and "punished," and "cuff[s] Danny . . . with a snarl," crying, "I'll show you who is boss around here!" When they drag him into the cooler, he gets up "on his hands and knees" (like Blake's engraving of Nebuchadnezzar in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell), (15) "his hair hanging in his eyes, like some heavy animal. A large dog... or a lion" (368, 369, 374).

As they shut the door on him, he "leap[s]" at them, having become one with the menacing natural world represented by the vengeful hedge animals (bushes surrounding the hotel that have been shaped by human topiary ingenuity into dogs, lions, a rabbit, and a buffalo). During the night, his screams mingle with that of the surrounding storm as he "breaks down" into an increasingly elemental condition (374, 377). The frequent foreshadowing of Jack's inevitable surrender to an atavistic state contributes to the narrative anticipation of the impending catastrophe. This technique directly involves the reader in Danny's experience of being presented with information that carries some unmistakably ominous, frightening significance yet whose precise meaning is frustratingly obscure. When the family is first left alone at the Overlook after all the other staff have departed, Jack feels "as if his life had dwindled to a mere spark while the hotel and the grounds had suddenly doubled in size and become sinister, dwarfing them with sullen inanimate power" (101)—a power that he eventually recognizes is not inanimate, but malevolently animate. Later, when he is up on the roof doing repairs and thinking about how to revise his play, he is bitten by a wasp, which "put[s] an end to cogitation" (106). He feels

his hand and his whole arm consumed by holy, righteous fire, destroying conscious thought, making the concept of civilized behavior obsolete. . . . [When] the brown, furious cloud rose out of the hole in the fabric of things . . . [w]hen you unwittingly stuck your hand into the wasps' nest, you hadn't made a covenant with the devil to give up your civilized self with its trappings of love and respect and honor. It just happened to you. .. . [Y]ou ceased to be a creature of the mind and became a creature of the nerve endings; from college-educated man to wailing ape in five easy seconds. (110)

Jack eventually does become that Hydelike ape, wielding his club against his wife and son. Uncovering the wasps' nest and gazing at them going slowly about "their instinctual business" of killing all but the hibernating queen, he identifies the wasp's sting with his own experience of life—his violent father and his own consequent violent and hostile behavior, which included an uncontrolled attack on a former student that cost him his teaching job at a private school (109-16). But Jack fails to note the significance of these associational connections, and as Bernadette Lynn Bosky has shown, his reaction is typical of many of King's well-educated male characters who pride themselves on their reasonability and fail to heed their intuition.

Another typically Gothic narrative "trick" that King performs in The Shining was earlier identified by Sir Walter Scott, in his review of The Castle of Otranto: the writer of Gothic fiction, when successful, "wind[s] up the feelings of his reader till they bee [o] me for a moment identified with those of a ruder age" in which belief in the supernatural was still strong (93). In King's novel it is the "ruder age" of powerful native magic that is vividly recreated, along with an even more ancient and frightening prehuman time.

King effects the psychological movement down from a seemingly safe and civilized world to a more primitive condition in a number of ways. For one thing, he undermines reader objectivity and distance by making five-year-old Danny the emotional focus of the story, and by conveying the experience of the other main characters with a stream-of-consciousness technique (involving italics, capital letters, ellipses, dashes, broken sentence structures, and parentheses) that creates a strong sense of emotional immediacy.

As well, the cultural/psychological threshold is lowered at the beginning of the novel with the humorous, if politically incorrect, obscenities of Watson (the maintenance man whose grandfather built the Overlook). Watson compares Ullman to an overbred, domesticated dog: "I hate that little fucker. Yap-yap-yap, all the livelong day, he's just like one a those little dogs that bites you on the ankle then run around an pee all over the rug .... It's a pity the things you see when you ain't got a gun" (19).

The downward movement continues with the increasing evocation of the sense of smell. The hotel with its "smelly reputation" (400) becomes the locus of a life-and-death struggle between the devouring primeval swamp and the civilized human who has emerged from it. Danny describes his en-counter with the hag in Room 217 in these terms: "[S]he wanted me. . . . She wasn't even thinking, not the way you and Daddy think. It was black ... it was hurt-think . . . like the wasps that night in my room! . . . [S]he started to choke me ... I could smell her . . . I could smell how dead she was" (249). The recurring references to an "insectile" buzzing sound, whether from the wasps or the fluorescent lights or the voices of the Overlook, also reinforce the atmosphere of ancient prehuman life.

Yet the fact that the smell of oranges always precedes Dick Hallorann's visions seems to suggest that when one connects with this original life force, there is a possibility that individual and social identity may be enhanced and not necessarily destroyed. This is a recognition which Gothic fiction stimulates: the conscious ego is only a portion of the total self. From a Jungian perspective, such a recognition brings both emotional relief and an expanded awareness. Because Jack, who is so confident at the beginning of the story that his superior intellect will protect him from cabin fever (9) and who has battled his alcoholism through a supreme effort of will, craves this relief so desperately, he runs a much greater risk of "drowning in instinct" (389) than does Dick, who is more comfortable with the collective aspect of his identity and is "used to following his hunches" (311).

Thus, in keeping with the ameliorative aims of the jeremiad, defined by Sacvan Bercovitch as "a ritual designed to join social criticism to spiritual renewal, public to private identity, the shitting 'signs of the times' to certain traditional metaphors, themes, and symbols" (xi), The Shining joins its condemnation with a movement toward regeneration. There are three characters who serve as symbolic agents of cultural and spiritual renewal or redemption in The Shining : the black man, the child, and the mother. Along with the image of Christ, which appears at significant moments in the plot, they constitute, in Jungian terms, symbols of transformation.

Dick Hallorann, the black man, acts as a savior in his journey back to the Overlook to rescue Danny, just as he also represents the shadow side of the American psyche. He embodies the emotional force and the physical ease for which African-Americans are noted, and often stereotyped, that has been historically suppressed by white society, both in the form of the brutal treatment of black people before and after slavery was abolished and in the dominant society's lingering puritanical unease about bodily pleasure. The shadow in Jung's terminology represents that aspect of the self that is deemed unacceptable or unworthy and so is rejected or denied. But because the healthy psyche is self-regulating, the shadow cannot be permanently submerged; it must find expression in order to restore psychic balance.

Jack's imbalance is underscored by the way he succumbs to a prejudicial hatred of "niggers" during his breakdown, but Dick's actual saving grace is indicated by Danny's vision of Dick dressed in kitchen whites (although Danny never actually saw him in them) that endow his image with a numinous quality (304).

Dick himself must overcome his own self-hatred and rage at the white man before he can enter the Overlook to attempt to rescue Danny; as he is approaching the hotel he tunes in on its

heavy . . . hateful, murderous/ thought-force: (GET OUT OF HERE YOU DIRTY NIGGER THIS IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS YOU NIGGER TURN AROUND OR WE'LL KILL YOU HANG YOU UP FROM A TREE LIMB YOU FUCKING JUNGLE-BUNNY COON AND THEN BURN THE BODY THAT'S WHAT WE DO WITH NIGGERS SO TURN AROUND NOW). (389)

After the explosion, when Dick enters the adjoining shed to get gas for the snowmobile ride down to Sidewinder, he is tempted by the spirit of the place, with its thick accumulation of hatred, to murder Danny and Wendy. When Danny calls to him to come out, Dick hears a voice saying "('Come on out now nigguh de massa callin youall.")...(... Do it, you weak-kneed no-balls nigger! Kill them!....)" (439). But Dick overcomes the pressure, as well as his increasing sense of identification with Jack, the power-mad white man, and he drives the two to shelter.

Dick succeeds in his heroic journey, and the final scene of The Shining is appropriately symbolic of a healing cultural and psychic rapprochement: he is sitting on a dock at the Red Arrow Lodge in Maine, with his arm around Danny, and with Wendy beside them, "reel[ing] the fish in, little by little" from the watery depths of the lake. Dick notes that Danny is "gettin brown," and Wendy responds, "Yes. Very brown" (447, 443). Danny's tan is taken by the two adults as a sign of his growing health, but in a larger sense, his darkening skin color implies that for the nation, desegregation is a necessary step toward a "healthier" future.

When Jung first came to America on a speaking engagement with Freud in 1909, he was deeply impressed by what he considered evidence of the "psychic imprint" of African and native Americans on Americans of European descent. Jung was so intrigued by America that he quickly made a second visit, whereas Freud diagnosed the country as a "gigantic mistake" and never returned (Stern 97; King would undoubtedly appreciate both re-actions). Jung also visited an American Pueblo Indian community and traveled to Africa. (16) Even before Jung visited the United States, however, he was struck by the role of native and black Americans in the dreams of his American patients: "[T]he black man regularly embodied the 'shadow,' the unlived life-potential, while the red man symbolized the ego-ideal, the idealistic aspirations of Americans" (Stern 126). This idea seems to be at work in The Shining , where Dick Hallorann acts as the agent of a renewed "life-potential" succeeding the collapse of the Overlook.

A second agent of renewal is Danny, who functions symbolically as the archetypal "Divine Child": the collective soul-bearer of the race, the "mediator, bringer of healing," signifying futurity, possibility, and spiritual wholeness. In myth, the child is "delivered helpless into the power of terrible enemies and in continual danger of extinction, [yet he] possesses powers far exceeding those of ordinary humanity" because he represents the human impulse for self-realization (Jung 83, 89). Danny may have clear perception, but he has not yet grown into understanding; he cries to Dick in frustration, "But I don't understand things!... People... they feel things and I feel them, but I don't know what I'm feeling! ... I wish I could read. Sometimes Tony shows me signs and I can hardly read any of them" (85). With his unfulfilled potential, he represents the new life that will follow upon the destruction of the old.

In order to defend her son, Wendy, like Dick, must overcome personal weakness and social conditioning. Wendy lacks self-confidence, but with her blond hair, which Danny compares to corn and wheat, she is also a Ceres figure, goddess of the self-replenishing earth. Her matriarchal character is evoked when Danny, warned by Tony that his mother is in mortal danger, thinks panic-stricken that she must not die because "she satisfied his childish definition of eternity" (419). Wendy is unsure whether she has enough of the "primal mother" in her to protect her offspring against the ravages of the father (364). Her own upbringing with a "devouring mother" (Danny imagined that Wendy's mother wanted to eat her; 201) has left her unsure about herself and her own capacities, but unlike Walpole's meek Hippolita, Wendy succeeds in opposing Jack with tenacious force, although at great cost to herself. She also demonstrates a real ferocity in defending Danny from Jack's outbursts, at one point threatening to kill Jack if he ever hurts Danny again (232). She reverses Jack's family history as well by bashing him over the head with an empty wine bottle, as Jack's father had done to his wife with a cane (369). Ultimately, she puts "self-preservation after son-preservation" (233). Even the ghostly Grady grudgingly admits that "she appears to be . . . somewhat stronger than we had imagined. Somewhat more resourceful" (381).

All the adult characters regress during the course of their struggles to a religious state of awareness, an intensifying sense of "superstitious dread" (52, 135) signified in part by their increasing use of expletives invoking God and Christ. Wendy's and Dick's oaths are uttered in tones of prayerful supplication, thanks, and promise, whereas Jack's are most often blasphemous. There are also two visions of Christ that appear: one when Danny confronts what is left of Jack in their final encounter and sees the depth of suffering in his father's face; and another when Jack recalls a gestalt puzzle shown to his class by their teacher, a nun. Jack remembers the puzzle at the moment he realizes that he is the "weak link" the hotel is working on. He had been the only child left in his class who failed to recognize the image and finally lied that he saw it; later when alone in the classroom he did recognize the "sad . . . wise. . . . careworn" face, but only after muttering "Shitfire-hellfire-shitfire" under his breath. This memory feeds into Jack's sense of being damned and defeated and in turn leads him into succumbing to the Overlook's spell by throwing away the magneto for the snowmobile, their only vehicle for escape (278-82).

The Christ image appears again, via Jack, at the climax of the action, when Danny faces down the powers of evil working through his father. He "sees through" their lie and states, "[Y]ou'll never get what you want from me." Then "suddenly his daddy was there, looking at him in mortal agony, and a sorrow so great that Danny's heart flamed within his chest." Jack tells Danny to "remember how much" he loves him and begs him "for God's sake" to run away, but Danny refuses to move, taking one of his father's "bloody hands" and kissing it, saying, "It's almost over" (Wendy repeats this gesture with Dick at the end of the story; 444). Danny for the first time in his life has "an adult thought, an adult feeling" in the realization that he is alone, that no one else can help him. At this point, what is left of Jack turns the mallet with which he has been threatening Danny against himself (427—28). One critic has referred to this scene as another instance of the "sacral parody" that is typical of King's fiction (Egan 138); yet when one considers the elements of recognition, crucifixion, sacrifice, and self-annihilation from an archetypal perspective, one can see that it enacts what Jung has called the "realization of the shadow . . . [which has] the meaning of a suffering and a passion which implicate the whole man" (208).

The reader's sense of the pathos of Jack's failure is intensified by the knowledge that the bond between father and son has been such a close one. Wendy has occasional feelings of jealousy in her recognition that "Danny had been Jack's for the asking, almost from the first." When Danny was a baby, Jack helped to tend him with care and patience, feeding him and burping him and soothing his stomach aches, frequently with more success than Wendy. Jack "hadn't minded changing diapers, even those he called the special deliveries" (53). His assumption of the role of Gothic villain be¬comes all the more horrific in the light of his obvious love for his child.

As Danny watches what is left of his father disintegrate, he finally recalls something that had been nagging at his memory: the boiler has been left untended and will soon blow the whole thing up. In terms of the novel's architectural symbolism, the repeated suggestions that the son must remember what the father has forgotten (or "overlooked") point to the need for a deeper understanding of the historical foundations of American life. As bastion of a cultural identity that is no longer viable, the Overlook must self-destruct, but the child who is "gettin brown" represents the hope—or at least the possibility—of the future.

Wendy and Dick both try to reassure each other that despite the grief and horror of losing Jack, she and Danny will "be okay," but the tone of the final section is tentative rather than confident. There is the disturbing information that the person helping Wendy to find employment in Maryland is "Uncle AT Shockley (443-4), who with his inherited wealth and power is very much involved in the dirty corporate world of Uncle Sam and who admits to full knowledge of the Overlook's seamy history (187). Also, it is a "Chamber of Commerce brochure" that persuades Wendy that the place might be a "nice town to raise a kid in" (444). Although the American Gothic nightmare seems to be behind them, there is an uneasy sense that its warning may not have been fully understood. The future still holds its dangers, and there is no final assurance that the horror will not return.

Attempting to explain the reasons for the rise of the horror film and novel in America in the seventies and early eighties (as well as for his own enormous popular success), King has identified the change as part of a major shift in the general attitude which could also be detected in "the rise of such things as Rolfing, primal screaming, and hot-tubbing" (Danse267). Outside of his fiction, King gives few hints about his work's political import. However, given the severe critique of American history and society offered in The Shining , it is not difficult to see why, near the end of the twentieth century, the biggest national producer of Gothic nightmares should no longer be England but the United States, the country with the biggest "ego" so to speak, which currently occupies, rather uneasily, the position of world leader in the nuclear age.




























Notes:
1. King had already begun to establish a name for himself as a master of American horror with two earlier works, Carrie (1974) and 'Salem's Lot (1975), the latter being King's reworking of the Dracula myth into the American landscape. For discussions of the relation between 'Salem's Lot and Stoker's Dracula, see Gregory Waller, James E. Hicks, and Carol A. Senf ("Blood").
2. These include, besides the introductory epigraph from Edgar Allan Poe, "The Masque of the Red Death"; references to Horace Walpole (168); movie versions of Frankenstein (111, 327); Algernon Blackwood (264); and Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House (281). "Bluebeard" is also mentioned more than once (88, 169-70, 215). There are as well many other references to American and British writers and literary works that are not part of the Gothic tradition; the most frequent allusions are to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.
3. One may note the repetition of history in the Bush administration's American invasion of Panama to apprehend Manuel Noriega, in which there was considerable (and in the opinion of many, unnecessary) bloodshed.
4. See Richard Slotkin's second chapter, "Cannibals and Christians," in his Regeneration Through Violence; see also his third chapter, "A Home in the Heart of Darkness," where he describes the conflicts between the people of Rhode Island, who generally adopted a conciliatory approach to the aboriginal peoples, and those of Massachusetts, who tended to characterize the Indian as the devil incarnate who must be vanquished.
5. See Linda C. Badley's discussion of the "motif of automotive horror" in King's work where "moving down the road really means going back: devolution or reversion" (84).
6. Sand Creek is located about one hundred miles (as the crow flies) from the elegant old Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, where King first conceived of The Shining. As Douglas E. Winter records, King and his family were, like the Torrance family at the Overlook, the only guests left in the Stanley Hotel. King has stated that the Stanley struck him as "the perfect—maybe the archetypal— setting for a ghost story" (Winter 45). Winter is quoting from King's "On Becoming a Brand Name" (Adelina, February 1980 [45]) and adds that the Stanley Hotel "has since been converted into luxury condominiums" (199 n. 2).
7. In the Pequot slaughter, Captain John Mason, with ninety Englishmen and hundreds of Naragansett allies, "marched to one of the Pequot villages on the Mystic River, which he put to the torch, slaughtering all the inhabitants," including several hundred women and children. "As Captain John Underhill wrote . . . the Naragansetts . . . 'cried ... it is too furious, and slaies too many men'" (Washburn, "Seventeenth" 90; qtg. John Underhill, Newes from America [London 1638; 42-43]). Richard Slotkin records Underbill's uneasy justification of the event:


Many were burnt in the fort, both men, women, and children. Others forced out. .. which our soldiers received and entertained with the sword. Down fell men, women, and children. . . . Great and doleful was the bloudy sight to the view of young soldiers that never had been in war, to see so many souls lie gasping on the ground, so thick, in some places, that you could hardly pass along. . . . Sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents. Sometimes the case alters; but we will not dispute it now. We had sufficient light from the word of God for our proceedings. (76; quoting Underhill, Newes 25).

In the Great Swamp Fight forty years later, English troops broke into the Naragansett fort, which only women, children, and the wounded were occupying, and burned it to the ground (Slotkin 85).
8. The rising up of ghosts from Indian burial grounds recently has become another less complex but more popular topos in horror fiction and films, from King's Pet Cemetery to Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist.
9. This phrase was taken up by Perry Miller in his influential study of the Puritan apocalyptic imagination as a crucial factor in the formation of American national identity. 242 Notes to Pages 193-209 Notes to Pages 209-213 243 10. Wendy is paraphrasing Emerson's statement that Nature "pardons no mistakes. Her yea is yea, and her nay, nay" (38).
11. It is debatable whether or not King subscribed to the theory that Kennedy's assassination was a plot engineered by American interest groups who opposed the president's planned withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, although King's inclusion of a gangland murder in the Presidential Suite of the Overlook Hotel does suggest that possibility. The speculation that Kennedy was planning a withdrawal has only recently been proved correct; see John M. Newman.
12. Miller (n. 9 above) concludes his study by citing a military report about the bombing of Hiroshima: "The authors of the highly official United States Bombing Survey are not, I am persuaded, theologians or poets, and they probably did not know that they were falling into the pattern of a literary form more ancient, and more rigid, than the sonnet" (238).
13. Tony Magistrale has shown how a later story of King's "Children of the Corn" deals with the American destruction of Vietnamese land with toxic chemicals such as Agent Orange; see "Stephen King's Vietnam Allegory."
14. Brown has been called the "father of American fiction" by Donald Ringe (36) and the "father of American gothic" by Leslie Fiedler; Fiedler declares that Brown's work inaugurates the moment at which "our serious literature began" {Love and Death 80, 148).
15. See Jean Hagstrum, pi. Lib.
16. Jung's memoirs record the following conversation, which he recalls having with a local chief during his visit to the Taos pueblos in New Mexico:

"See, Ochwiay Biano said, "how cruel the whites look. Their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not under¬stand them. We think that they are mad." I asked him why he thought the whites were all mad. "They say that they think with their heads," he replied. "Why of course. What do you think with? "I asked him in surprise. "We think here," he said, indicating his heart. 

In Jung's account, the exchange provoked in him "a long meditation," in which he saw a series of vivid visions of European invasions, including the Roman conquest of Gaul, the "pillaging and murdering bands of the Crusading armies," the colonization of the Americas with "fire, sword, torture, and (Christianity," and "the peoples of the Pacific islands decimated by firewater, syphilis, and scarlet fever." He realized that "the spread of civilization" had another face, "the face of a bird of prey, seeking with cruel intentness for distant quarry" (Memories 247-48). Jung also visited Africa, where, he says, looking down upon a broad expanse of savanna from the vantage of a low hill, he felt as if he had witnessed the beginning of creation (Memories 255-56).

In: The Return of the Repressed. Gothic Horror from The "Castle of Otranto" to "Alien". New York State University of New York Press (1999), pp.185-212. 

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