Significance of the Ending of “The Shining”

“The Shining” is a horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. It tells the story of Jack Torrance, a struggling writer who takes a job as a winter caretaker at the remote Overlook Hotel in Colorado with his wife, Wendy, and their son, Danny. As the isolation and supernatural presence of the hotel begin to take a toll on Jack’s sanity, he descends into madness and attempts to kill his family.

The film’s ending has been the subject of much debate and interpretation among fans and critics. In this article, we will explore the significance of the ending and its possible meanings.

Interpretation of the Ending

The ending of “The Shining” is famously ambiguous, leaving many questions unanswered and room for interpretation. One popular interpretation is that the events of the film are supernatural in nature, with the Overlook Hotel serving as a gateway to a supernatural realm that possesses Jack and drives him to madness.

Another interpretation is that the film is a psychological horror story, with Jack’s descent into madness and violence being a product of his own mind and emotions. This interpretation suggests that the supernatural elements of the film are merely hallucinations brought on by Jack’s mental instability.

Regardless of the interpretation, the ending of “The Shining” is marked by a sense of uncertainty and unresolved tension. The final shot of the film shows a photograph from 1921 that features Jack, seemingly indicating that he has become a permanent part of the hotel’s ghostly history.

the shining jack torrance

The symbolism of the maze and the snow throughout the film also adds to the sense of ambiguity and unease in the ending. The maze, which Danny navigates throughout the film and which ultimately leads to his escape from Jack, can be seen as a metaphor for the twists and turns of the mind and the human psyche. The snow, which falls heavily throughout the film and covers the entire hotel grounds in the final scenes, can be seen as a symbol of isolation, confinement, and the power of nature.

Analysis of the Characters

One of the key elements of “The Shining” is its exploration of the characters and their relationships to each other and to the supernatural forces at work in the Overlook Hotel.

Jack Torrance’s descent into madness is a central focus of the film, and his character is portrayed as both sympathetic and terrifying. His struggles with alcoholism, writer’s block, and his own inner demons make him a complex and tragic figure, even as he becomes increasingly dangerous to his family.

Wendy Torrance, on the other hand, serves as a caretaker and protector throughout the film, doing her best to keep her family safe despite the mounting danger around them. Her resourcefulness and resilience make her a strong female character, and her determination to survive is a key factor in the film’s climactic scenes.

Danny Torrance, the young son of Jack and Wendy, is a central figure in the film due to his psychic abilities and his relationship with Tony, an imaginary friend who may be a manifestation of his powers. Danny’s psychic abilities allow him to sense the dangers of the hotel and the presence of the supernatural entities that inhabit it.

Themes in “The Shining”

“The Shining” explores several themes that are central to the horror genre and to human psychology. One of the most prominent themes is isolation and confinement, both physical and psychological. The remote location of the Overlook Hotel and the harsh winter conditions contribute to a sense of confinement and claustrophobia, while Jack’s descent into madness can be seen as a manifestation of his own inner isolation and loneliness.

Another key theme is the dangers of addiction and abuse, which are present in Jack’s struggles with alcoholism and his violent tendencies towards his family. The film also explores the power of the mind, with Danny’s psychic abilities serving as a conduit for the supernatural forces at work in the hotel.

The Legacy of “The Shining”

“The Shining” has had a significant impact on popular culture and on the horror and suspense genres. The film’s iconic imagery, such as the blood-filled elevator and the “Here’s Johnny!” scene, have become cultural touchstones and have been parodied and referenced in numerous films and TV shows.

The film’s director, Stanley Kubrick, is widely regarded as a master of the medium and his meticulous attention to detail and innovative use of sound and visual effects have influenced countless filmmakers in the decades since the film’s release.


The ending of “The Shining” remains a topic of debate and interpretation, with fans and critics offering their own readings of the film’s ambiguous and unsettling conclusion. The film’s exploration of themes such as isolation, addiction, and the power of the mind make it a complex and enduring work of horror cinema.


What is the significance of the maze in “The Shining”?
The maze can be seen as a metaphor for the twists and turns of the human psyche and the challenges of navigating one’s own thoughts and emotions.

Is “The Shining” based on a true story?
No, “The Shining” is a work of fiction by author Stephen King.

Who plays Jack Torrance in “The Shining”?
Jack Nicholson portrays Jack Torrance in the film adaptation.

What is the meaning of the photograph at the end of “The Shining”?
The photograph is meant to suggest that Jack has become a permanent part of the hotel’s ghostly history.

What is the significance of the snow in “The Shining”?
The snow can be seen as a symbol of isolation, confinement, and the power of nature, contributing to the film’s sense of claustrophobia and unease.

Saurav B.

Saurav is the main content creator at Film Finesse's blog and YouTube. He has six years of experience as a content writer, including writing screenplays for short movies and videos. He has 5 years of experience as a research manager, along with a degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering.

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