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Posted on September 3rd, 2012, by

Jack Torrance, unemployment school teacher, would-be writer and recovering alcoholic, has to keep his wife and little son. His last chance is a job of winter caretaker at a large and isolated hotel in Colorado Rocks. The Torrances move into resort hotel Overlook.

At the hotel strange and horror things begin to happen with Jack and his son Danny.  Danny is psychic and so he is very sensitive to supernatural forces. Unfortunately, the main supernatural force is the hotel itself.

Overlook is one of the full-fledged characters of the Shining by Stephen King. Expressly or by implication, the hotel acts in almost every chapter of the novel. King limited the cast to four players: Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, little boy Danny and Dick Halloran, the hotel chef. Overlook is the fifths player who plays against four others.

As every character, Overlook has its biography.  Just at the beginning of the novel, in the chapter 1 Job interview, general manager Stuart Ullman tells the official story of the hotel. It was built at the beginning of twentieth century, then was sold and purchased for several times and reached the period of new revival. Following the Ullman’s story the reader realizes the magnitude and grandiosity of the hotel.

The Overlook has one hundred and ten guest quarters, he said in a scholarly voice. Thirty of them, all suites, are here on the third floor. Ten in the west wing (including the Presidential Suite), ten in the center, ten more in the east wing. All of them command magnificent views. (King, 12)

However the hints to the wicked nature of the hotel appear in this smoothed-over story. First hotel owner, Walker, lost his son during the hotel construction, then his wife died, then he lost all his money and sold the hotel at the first time. It’s ironic that his grandson works as the mechanic in the hotel. The reader could even propose that the Walker’s curse was the initial origin of the evil spirit in the hotel.

A little later Jack (and the reader) becomes familiar with the dark side of Overlook history. Many people died in the hotel, some of them were murdered.

Just like every big hotel has got a ghost. Why? Hell, people come and go. Sometimes one of em will pop off in his room, heart attack or stroke or something like that. (King, 27)

Splendid appearance contradicts to the hotel’s sordid past.

The theme of dismal hotel history continues simultaneously with the general plot. Snowstorm cut off the hotel from the civilization. As Jack explores the basement, he finds the mysterious scrapbook with the press cutting about the Overlook. A passing thought about the owner of this scrapbook gives the hint to the reader regarding the curse of the Walker. The author interweaves the past of the Hotel into the novel, vividly illustrating the hotel’s history and preparing us for Jack’s complete capitulation to the malevolent influences of evil powers.  At the same time Danny starts to notice the scary things. Detailed descriptions of hotel interior and unexpected comparisons keep the reader in suspense.

Great splashes of dried blood, flecked with tiny bits of grayish-white tissue, clotted the wallpaper. () It was like a crazy picture drawn in blood, a surrealistic etching of a man’s face drawn back in terror and pain, the mouth yawning and half the head pulverized.(King, 40)

As he reached the hose, some tricks of the light made the nozzle seem to move, to revolve as if to strike (King, 81).

Danny realizes that the hotel is really haunted, and the ghosts became more active because of him. The boy’s clairvoyance allows him to see the frightening scenes from the hotel’s past and foresee terrible future. The pure evil that inhabits in the Outlook tries to possess Danny, to destroy his mind and to take over his mental power. Danny resists and breaks through. However day by day hotel becomes stronger and one day it attacks Danny.

The woman was sitting up. Still grinning, her huge marble eyes fixed on him, she was sitting up. Her dead palms made squittering noises on the porcelain. Her breasts swayed like ancient cracked punching bags. (). And he was just beginning to relax, just beginning to realize that the door must be unlocked and he could go, when the years-damp, bloated, fish-smelling hands closed softly around his throat and he was turned implacably around to stare into that dead and purple face. (King, 112-113)

At the same time the hotel starts to manipulate Jack. It plays with Jack’s weakness, acting like the devil that tempts its victim. Hotel pushes on Jack’s curiosity, and Jack begins to examine the bloody history of the hotel. Then Jack calls Stuart Ullman and teases him, as the result he is on the edge of dismissal. His pride is wounded and his dignity is humiliated. Then the hotel frightens Jack with the moving topiary animals. Soon Jack’s thought and feeling are in total disaster.

The dog had moved closer. No longer crouching, it seemed to be in a running posture, haunches flexed, one front leg forward, the other back. The hedge mouth yawned wider, the pruned sticks looked sharp and vicious. And now he fancied he could see faint eye indentations in the greenery as well. (King, 103)

After the first accident with Danny all the family members receive evidence that there something in the hotel. It is hard to believe in extraordinary things and parents try to find another reason of those that happened. However they can not leave the hotel because they have no money. And Jack convinces his wife that everything was just an imagination, though he knows it was not.

he knew that it was all true. The hotel wanted Danny, maybe all of them but Danny for sure. The hedges had really walked. There was a dead woman in 217. (King,  137)

Jack understands the evil personality of the hotel but he can not resist.  He is sure he can not win. He was not a strong man, and the hotel deadly siren song broke him.  Meantime hotel passes the offensive.  Topiary animals attack Danny. Elevator begins to work of its own accord. The evil force is getting ready to the party and shining Danny could be the top prize on it. Danny feels that the hotel is a great clock and he is a little key to make everything move. He perceives the Overlook as the old monster, creaking steadily and ever more closely around them: halls that now stretched back through time as well as distance, hungry shadows, unquiet guests who did not rest easy. (King, 159)

Finally Jack visits the hotel bar and finds it fully stocked. Was it the real liquor materialized with evil will or just an imagination of recovering alcoholic? The reader never knows. Author describes this scene in such a way that reader can not understand does it happen or its just Jack’s insanity. Jack Torrance looses control; the evil spirit of Overlook enters to his mind and tries to kill Danny. However love, friendship and selflessness of Danny, Wendy and Dick Halloran help all them to flee the hotel, at that time the hotel explodes.

Thus, the house in the Shining by Stephen King is an impersonated evil and one the novel characters.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde shows another image of the house. It is another horror novel, the same as The Shining, but this time the house is not the character, just a decoration. However, even being the decoration house of the main character plays the important role in the novel. The descriptions of interior also create the atmosphere in the novel, like in The Shining.  It is important that detailed descriptions of beautiful objects help Oscar Wild to glorify the philosophy of new hedonism.

Lord Henry and his philosophy awoke the feeling of luxury in the soul of young Dorian, Here is the first mentioning of his house in the novel:

In the huge gilt Venetian lantern, spoil of some Doge’s barge, that hung from the ceiling of the great, oak-panelled hall of entrance, lights were still burning from three flickering jets: thin blue petals of flame they seemed, rimmed with white fire. He turned them out and, having thrown his hat and cape on the table, passed through the library towards the door of his bedroom, a large octagonal chamber on the ground floor that, in his new-born feeling for luxury, he had just had decorated for himself and hung with some curious Renaissance tapestries that had been discovered stored in a disused attic at Selby Royal. (Wild, 91)  Dorian starts new interior and new life.

The important place in the Dorian’s house is an old schoolroom. This room was built specially to keep Dorian away from his grandfather, who hated his grandson but could not get rid of him.  Dorian hates his fatal portrait but wants to have it at hand, so he locks the portrait in the old schoolroom.   Later Dorian kills his friend in this room. To force the reader feel fear author shows an old dark English house with the fireplaces and wooden stairs.

They walked softly, as men do instinctively at night. The lamp cast fantastic shadows on the wall and staircase. A rising wind made some of the windows rattle. (Wild, 157)

The rise upstairs always means the new turn in the development the character, and even his death happens on the first floor, in the old schoolroom.

Thus, in The picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wild the house is only the decoration, which at the same time helps to understand the character of main hero.

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