Discuss two examples of irony in The Shining?

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gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This question is useful. It is useful to be reminded that King isn't just a horror writer, or just out to shock readers and gross them out, but also uses a wide range of literary techniques, such as irony.

Turning to the question, there are several examples of irony in King's famous novel. The first is a major element of the plot. Jack Torrance's life is a mess. He takes this position at the hotel because it is supposed to be easy. It is supposed to give him a chance to focus on his writing and rebuild his life. However, in a massive example of situational irony, Jack's time at the hotel is not easier, and his life doesn't pull together. Instead, it is far harder, and his life gets shredded.

A related irony is Jack's relationship to drinking. Before he came to the hotel, Jack was having trouble with alcohol, and one reason he took this position was to dry out. However, the hotel itself provides him with alcohol, and sets up situations where he'll drink. His actions to save himself and his family end up putting all of them at severe risk. That's a rather bitter irony.

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The Shining

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