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    Thread: Dante's Inferno symbolism in The Shining?

    1. #1
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      Dante's Inferno symbolism in The Shining?

      I don't know if anybody around here is into film analysis, or even more specifically analysis of the complex themes and symbolism inserted by Stanley Kubrick into his movies. If you are you should look up Rob Ager's Collative Learning site or one of his YouTube channels - so much win! Mr Ager has a forum where people discuss themes and interpretations of movies, and today a post went up that I got so excited about I felt the need to blather about it somewhere, so here it is!

      "I have recently become aware that Kubrick's The SHiNiNG has a lot in common with Dante's Inferno.

      I stumbled upon this after listening to the ladies theory in ROOM 237 about Jack potentially being a stand in for the Minotaur as the film version of The SHiNiNG features a hedge maze or labyrinth not found in Stephen King's novel. This was intriguing because Danny handles Jack very much the same way the Minotaur is handled by getting them both lost in the labyrinth. I did a search on the Minotaur and discovered that he was a man eater, a cannibal. That was interesting because there are a few references to cannibalism in the film.

      The search also led to the fact that the Minotaur appears in Dante's Inferno as an inhabitant of the 7th circle of Hell reserved for perpetrators of violence. This line is where things started getting interesting.


      In Dante's Inferno Phlegethon is described as a river of blood that boils souls. It is in the Seventh Circle and is guarded by centaurs, who force souls to remain at their level. Here are punished the shades who committed crimes of violence against their fellow men (see Canto XII, 46-48). Here are murderers and tyrants: men who through their violent deeds in life caused hot blood to flow and now themselves are sunk in flowing, boiling blood. Dante sees Attila the Hun and Alexander the Great up to their eyebrows in it. He gets across it with help from Nessus.
      A river of blood would describe the hemoglobin spewing elevator and two murderers up to their eyebrows in blood (albeit symbolically) describes the red bathroom scene where red walls are kept in frame at eyelevel with Jack and Delbert. (…)





      This image is taken from Room 237. When the film is played forwards and backwards overlapping this image happens.



      The remarkable thing about this is that the real blood on the walls from the twins line up with the symbolic blood on the walls of the Red Bathroom. It's odd that the real blood isn't on the walls beyond the border of the Red Bathroom walls. To me that seals it that the Red Bathroom is a symbol for murder and more specifically the twins murder.

      With that revelation I started thinking about the Overlook itself an analog for the Inferno(Hell). Jack commits a lot of sins in the film and they take place in specific rooms that could be analogs for the circles of Inferno.

      In the Gold Room Jack is gluttonous in his alcohol consumption. The party going on and the name of the room itself implies greed and gluttony.

      In Room 237 Jack is lustful.

      In the red bathroom murder is planned.

      In the Colorado Lounge Jack is slothful. Wendy does the caretaking so jack can focus on his writing but is unproductive and spends time throwing a ball against the wall. Maybe another intentional or unintentional joke is that Jack is slothful in the Lounging area.

      Also worth noting that Jack freezing to death and being trapped in a photo for eternity matches the punishment for betrayers of special relationships in the 9th circle whom are frozen in a lake of ice. The ultimate betrayal of father abusing child would land you here with Judas and Satan for company.

      I feel like Danny is an analog for Dante, and the Inferno he is given a tour of is his father's.

      I feel like Halloran is an analog of Virgil as Virgil is Dante's guide and protector likewise one could make a point Halloran fills those roles to Danny.

      What brought this all together was me doing a search for The SHiNiNG and Dante's Inferno to see if these things had been noticed before and what popped up but a line from Dante's Inferno that takes place as Dante and Virgil depart from hell(the Overlook)

      “To get back up to the shining world from there
      My guide and I went into that hidden tunnel,

      And Following its path, we took no care
      To rest, but climbed: he first, then I-so far,
      through a round aperture I saw appear

      Some of the beautiful things that Heaven bears,
      Where we came forth, and once more saw the stars.”

      ― Dante Alighieri, Inferno

      Coincidence?

      I think not as the circles of Inferno that correspond to the number 237 are as follows

      Circle 2 is Lust
      Circle 3 is Gluttony
      Circle 7 is Murder

      All of which Jack is guilty of during the film.

      I also feel that the ending shot of Jack in the black and white photo date July 4 1921 serves two purposes. The first is that it shows that Jack's soul is frozen in eternity in the photo a symbol for the lake of ice (9th circle). If we didn't see the photo and Kubrick left us with Jack's frozen corpse in the maze I don't think we would have gotten the sense of utter and everlasting finality that the photo gives. The date on the photo and the line where Delbert tells Jack that he has always been the caretaker leads me to believe since Delbert is already dead and thus aware of eternity that he has always known Jack(in Hell).

      I also think the July 4th date celebrates Danny and Wendy's escape and hard won independence of Jack, an abusive father and husband."


      DM again - I'm not saying I completely agree with all of this, but most of it does sound quite feasible. It would explain why Room 237 is always said as "two three seven" rather than "two thirty-seven" as you would normally expect. It also finally offers a decent explanation of why room 217 from the novel was changed specifically to 237.
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      Last edited by Darkmatters; 08-22-2014 at 05:17 AM.
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      Hi, I'm the poster who wrote this and I just wanted to say thanks for reading and sharing it. I've added a few more things to the collative learning post and I'm working on more. I have another thread for it on sherdog in the Mayberry forum titled New The SHiNiNG interpretation if you want to pop in and leave a comment. Thanks again.
      Last edited by Peloquin4prez; 08-24-2014 at 11:58 PM.
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      Hey Peloquin! You've got my vote for prez!!

      It's not often I get so worked up about somebody's theories over there, but every once in a while something comes along that seems legit, and I think you're spot on with much of this. It fits so many loose ends together. And I Love the way the blood level in that composite image shows 2 different stages, just over the eyebrows and then fully immersed.

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      Nice catch on the rising blood level that didn't even occur to me. I really appreciate it and I hope more people can read this, especially those who have read Dante's Inferno could probably add more layers. I kind of accidentally stumbled on one thing that led to another through basic knowledge of it and Wikipedia but I guess that's how these things work sometimes. cheers

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      Since I didn't post this here I can't do an edit but I wanted to mention the lady I refer to from ROOM 237 is Juli Kearns.

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      I can't edit it either, there's a 24 hour limit on that. Thanks for mentioning it though.

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      Another thing to notice is that the little boy has a shir that says Apollo 11, and the twins could represent the Gemini mission. Stanley Kubrick is well known for the hidden meanings in his films. In fact it was after he was releasing a very revealing film on occultism in the Rotshchild family that he mysteriously died after he wrote it but before the movie came out. The movie details a lot of what goes behind the scenes in the Rothschild family, the only trillionares on the globe.

      There are 3 hours of extra footage that have never been released, and probably never will.

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