The allegories of the Shining and imagery of mirrors, the shadow world, and ghostly personas tell us more about our perceptions than about things going bump in the the night. What does it tell us about Severed Conscience?
If Mirrors Are the Window Into The Soul, What Side is Looking In and What Looks Back At Us?
The movie The Shining makes use of many metaphors to tell a terrifying tale, and Stanley Kubrick’s eye for depicting the uncanny with jarring images has made the movie the source of much conjecture. How is that such terror can be invoked with such mundane elements as color, patterns in carpets, the use of light? Individually we can all cite elements that scare us, whether it be Jack Torrence’s flick of his hyper arched eyebrows, the wide angle shots of the snow filled maze or little Danny standing transfixed in terror outside room 237.
Many film critiques and social commentators have written books about Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, and the hidden meanings he conveyed with certain choices of color, fabric, sounds, and actor’s performances. The most common element cited is the extensive use of mirrors. They are in the majority of the pivotal scenes, and in some cases where there are no mirrors present, the actors themselves are sitting in mirror image, such as Danny and Dick Halloran depicted below.
In fact many of the scenes with Wendy, Jack and Danny, the scenes begin with Jack asleep or lost in thought when he is interrupted. Those scenes have mirrors.
Symmetry and Mirrors
If you look closely, Jack is starring into the mirrors, not at Grady.
The Sisters – They’re Not Twins, They Are A Clue
If you look closely at the poster to the left, it says Monarch. Monarch represents transformation in the occult. Transformation indeed happens at the Overlook hotel.
The Carpet Is Maze of Patterns
The Model of The Maze Is A Simulacrum
What is a simulacrum? Plato went to painstaking lengths to distinguish the essence of a thing being derived from the idea of a that thing. A representation of a person that uses illusion to convince you that something is real is a simulacrum. The simulacrum is considered inferior because it lacks the substance of a thing. In horror movies, the uncanny are often presented as something of close likeness, but on closer examination it is something dead. A corpse lacks the substance of a soul, it resembles a person but should be inanimate.
Simulacra have long been of interest to philosophers. In his Sophist, Plato speaks of two kinds of image-making. The first is a faithful reproduction, attempted to copy precisely the original. The second is intentionally distorted in order to make the copy appear correct to viewers. He gives the example of Greek statuary, which was crafted larger on the top than on the bottom so that viewers on the ground would see it correctly. If they could view it in scale, they would realize it was malformed. This example from the visual arts serves as a metaphor for the philosophical arts and the tendency of some philosophers to distort the truth so that it appears accurate unless viewed from the proper angle. Nietzsche addresses the concept of simulacrum (but does not use the term) in the Twilight of the Idols, suggesting that most philosophers, by ignoring the reliable input of their senses and resorting to the constructs of language and reason, arrive at a distorted copy of reality.
Examples of Simulacrums
In the occult, simulacrum are used as a representation to control a person. A voodoo doll is an example. There are other examples, such as Frankenstein, a collection of body parts but not a single, real person brought to life. Or a golem from Jewish Cabal where the likeness of a man is made from clay then animated. Prague has legends of the Golem which protected the Jewish quadrant.
The Twins Aren’t Twins At All
Many claim the sisters are twins, but they are actually the embodiment of simulacrum. One is larger, because she is older. Kubrick could have used actual twins, but he chose to use a 10 and 9 year old. They are similar, but that are not twins. In the opening interview, Ullman explained to Jack Torrence that the girls were 8 and 10 years old. The girls are similar to make you consider them as twins, but it is an illusion. Look at their height difference, the slight differences in their dresses. A simulacrum is a close approximation, but it is not a copy. The Overlook has many things that may be a close copy to reality, but there are differences, hard to spot like the differences in the “twins”.
Is The Model Scene All In Jack’s Head?
Mirrors Are A Simulacrum
Mirrors are the best example showing us an exact likeness visually, but not a resemblance. From a visual perspective is a perfect imitation but for the change of symmetry. In the real world I broke my left ankle skiing in the mirror world it is my left.
But a reflection is a shallow copy, it may not look like the original but the resemblance beyond the form does not exist. Their is no essence other that the image displayed back to our eyes, the mirror image may move and act as though it is animated but it is not a copy of us, it has no soul. In the Shining has Jack lost this ability to distinguish what he sees in the mirror, what his imagination conjures, and what he projects onto the model of maze?
Was The Overlook A Simulacrum, Was His Family Even There?
Mirrors sometimes show us the truth, but what stares back is a facsimile, a reflection only with no essence. In the Overlook, mirrors are how the truth is revealed. In other words the essence of the real world reaches Danny, Wendy and Jack through a mirror, it intrudes from what is truth and pushes into their world. What is we could travel from our world, break through the mirror to witness Jack on the other side, staring at the typewriter? Is he just imagining he is murdering his family?
Through out The Shining, Jack stares into a mirror before his musings begin and characters appear. How are we assured that Wendy and Danny aren’t characters in Jack’s mind as well?
The Mirror Shows The Truth – Why Can Danny Write Backwards?
If you recall, Danny wakes from his injuries by screaming Redrum while holding a knife and standing next Wendy who is a asleep. He writes Redrum on the door to the bathroom, the door that he and Wendy will need to use to escape. By taking that route, they must pass through the danger of murder, but in reality the door reads Redrum. The question that you have to ask is if Danny’s inner voice Tony was warning him of danger, why would Danny see it in mirror image, how could this be an effective alert to Wendy and Danny? Is Danny reading what Tony wrote in the mirror world? If so Danny is the mirror image if Tony wrote “Murder” on a mirror. Are Danny, Wendy and Jack in a simulacrum, a mirror image?