In 1980, Stanley Kubrick debuted the novel based horror film, The Shining. Written by Steven King, the psychological thriller takes place in an isolated hotel where a family of three will experience confusing and horrific events. Prior to arriving at the Overlook Hotel, the Torrance family has faced failure in multiple ways. Jack Torrance (Jack Nickelson), the father, is an alcoholic which led to the failure of his writing going nowhere and the failure to provide for his family. These types of failures reflect poorly upon a man, because it has always been a societal expectation that the man is considered the breadwinner and is responsible for supporting his wife and children. The film comments on this changing role of the father as head of the family.
During the same time the movie, The Shining, was released The United States was experiencing a revolutionary faction: The Women’s Liberation Movement. During this time, gender roles and expectations were changing. Like many debated and controversial topics, the argument of women’s liberation manifested itself in different types of media. The Shining is a good example of this because the film addresses many social issues, one being gender and family role expectations. As parents, it is Jack and Wendy’s (Shelley Duvall) responsibility to take care of their son, Danny (Danny Lloyd). In the movie, Jack becomes deranged and has violent urges. Through violent intentions and the disregard for his family’s safety, Jack has essentially neglected his role as father. In response to Jack’s insanity, Wendy takes on the role as primary caregiver, or family leader, to protect herself and her son. Certain aspects in the movie reflect changing gender and family roles in 1980’s society.
The classic, yet outdated, vision of the ideal American family consists of the father, who ha...