Kubrick’s “Haunted House”

Overlook Hotel

The haunted house, a particularly prevalent monstrous setting, takes a familiar structure that many people can connect to and turns it into a setting that drives horrors in film and literature. Stanley Kubrick’s movie, The Shining, employs the basic functions and characteristics of the “haunted house” theme in creating the monstrous setting of the Overlook Hotel. Although the setting is a hotel not a house per se, it is imperative that the viewer look past this basic semantic difference. The Overlook Hotel in fact does act as a temporary house to the main character Jack Torrance and his family. More importantly, by looking at the commonalities in between the definitions of the “Haunted House” in relevant literature and the characteristics of Kubrick’s Overlook hotel one can conclude that the latter matches the former quite neatly. One of the main characteristics of the haunted house, which is highlighted in literature on the topic, is the issue of disputed possession. This issue of disputed possession in clarified by observing the common interpretation that the Overlook Hotel is a symbol of colonial conflict about property, real estate, and the desecration of Indian burial grounds. Once again, it is this historical and cultural context of the monstrous setting, which is argued to be a symbol of America haunted by a murderous past, which contributes to the schizoid qualities that Jack displays. This interpretation of the monstrous setting of the Overlook Hotel, built up by employing the characteristics of a typical haunted house, and as a cultural embodiment of an American “murderous past” resonates very well with Cohen’s thesis that “The Monster’s Body Is a Cultural Body.” In clear parallel to Cohen’s description, the monstrous body is pure culture; the Overlook Hotel inhabits the gap between the time of upheaval that created it and the moment to which it is received.

Works Cited

Beebe, John. “The Shining by Stanley Kubrick; Stanley Kubrick; Diane Johnson.”The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal 1.4 (1980): 57-61. Web. 18 Nov. 2013<http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/jung.1.1980.1.4.57&gt;

Cambridge, Ada. “The Haunted House.” The North American Review 207.747 (1918): 268-77. JSTOR. Web. 20 Nov. 2013. < http://www.jstor.org/stable/25121782&gt;.

Cohen, Jeffrey J. “Monster Theory (Seven Theses).” Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minnesota: University of Minnesota, 1997. N. pag. Print.

Leibowitz, Flo, and Lynn Jeffress. “The Shining by Stanley Kubrick.” Film Quarterly 43.3 (1981): 45-51. JSTOR. Web. 19 Nov. 2013. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1212038&gt;.

Haunted Real Estate: The Occlusion of Colonial Dispossession and Signatures of Cultural Survival in U.S Horror Fiction 43.1 (1998): 93-108. JSTOR. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/41157353 .>.


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