What are some research topics for King's The Shining?

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There are lots of interesting possibilities when it comes to potential research topics and ideas for The Shining. For example, you might explore the autobiographical elements to the story. Jack Torrance is said to be based to some extent on King himself. King, like Jack, was an alcoholic. King, like Jack, struggled financially (before he became a famous writer) to support his family. King also was living in Colorado when he wrote the book, which is where the story is set. In a memoir entitled, "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft," published in 2000, King wrote: “I was the guy who had written The Shining without even realizing that I was writing about myself.”

Another possibility is to read the unpublished prologue that King wrote for the story (link below) and consider how the prologue might change one's interpretation of the novel. The prologue, entitled "Before The Play," describes Jack's relationship with his father, when Jack was still a boy. In scene 4 of the prologue, Jack, after being badly beaten by his father, thinks to himself, "What you see is what you’ll be, what you see is what you’ll be." From this prologue then, one might be able to better understand Jack's violence and madness in the story, as well as, of course, his abusive relationship with his own son. There was also an epilogue to the story which, likewise, wasn't included with the published novel. It might be interesting to research why King decided not to publish either the prologue or the epilogue and why he wrote them in the first instance. He presumably thought, initially, that both the prologue and epilogue added something important to the story. And perhaps he subsequently thought that they in fact, in some way, detracted from it. It would certainly be interesting to explore his thinking.

A third possibility might be to explore the similarities and differences between the book and the movie adaptation. King has criticized Stanley Kubrick's movie adaptation for trying to "psychologize the supernatural," and for thereby undermining the power of the Overlook Hotel. In Kubrick's adaptation, all of the supernatural occurrences are seemingly presented as a manifestation of Jack's own troubled mind. King has also criticized the lack of development in Jack's character in the movie, stating that, in the movie, "there’s no tragedy because there’s no real change." For these reasons and more, King has dismissively described Kubrick's movie as "like a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it." You might incorporate this quotation into an essay question, and explore whether or not you agree and, of course, why.

A fourth possible topic for research might be the connections between King's different novels. There are lots of theories about how all of King's novels are connected. For example, Dick Hallorann, the psychic cook in The Shining, also appears in It. In Misery, one of Annie Wilkes's victims, Andrew Pomeroy, tells her that he is writing a magazine article about the Overlook Hotel. It might be an interesting avenue of research to explore how these connections enhance the different stories, and how each story, The Shining included, fits into this multiverse created by King. I have included a second link below that you might like to start with if you decide to go down this route.

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