This is the second time I’ve read this book and, this time, it’s definitely bumped up in my mind from a four star read to five. Why? Because of many things, but the main one is how I read and interpret the story.
I love any story where there are multiple ways to interpret it and each interpretation is equally interesting. My favorite is when it’s either a supernatural phenomenon or it’s a mental illness. Is it something supernatural affecting this person, or is it mental illness taking control? The way I specifically read this book is from Jack’s point of view. Yes, Danny is great. So is Wendy and Holloran and everyone else. But, for me, the story is Jack’s. It’s his progression to becoming the man he never wanted to be.
And, each time, I ask myself: Is it the hotel or psychosis?
Because you can interpret it both ways. He hears and sees things that aren’t there, holds conversations with possibly invisible people, has intense delusions that someone’s controlling him, delusions of persecution, extreme paranoia, and a drug addiction. Those are symptoms of psychosis, specifically schizophrenia. Drugs (pretty sure alcohol can get lumped in) can lead to someone developing it.
Then, you can also say that it’s wrong and it’s all the hotel. And I’d say that you’re completely right. Yet, I’m also completely right.
The hotel is the literal interpretation and the symbolic interpretation is the mental illness and what drugs can do to people. I mean, Stephen King had a severe drug problem that most people know about. When you look at what I’m trying to say — in other words that Jack had a predisposition for schizophrenia that was aggravated by “cabin fever” and alcoholism — then you can see it as King almost writing to himself. Stop or this may be you. It’s a pretty deep meaning for a simple horror book.
Not only that, but Jack is just a great poster for mental illness. On the severe end. Most schizophrenics don’t hurt others. They’re more of a threat to themselves. (I’ve researched schizophrenia excessively, so I do have the sources to back this up.) You have drugs that lead to psychosis. The drugs are the problem. It’s a heavy message for this book.
And it really makes it for me. I love the hotel and the supernatural aspect, but the meditation on mental illness really does it for me.