Years after its release, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining remains unexplained and one of the most controversial movies ever made. Hundreds of fan theories (including the Wendy theory) have emerged from this peculiar film, and that might have been Kubrick’s intention from the very start. It’s baffling to hear that Stephen King didn’t like the direction Kubrick took with the film.
One particular theory that has gained traction in recent years is that of Wendy as the main character of the film. Even more shocking is that she might have been hallucinating the entire time, which would mean that what happened at the Overlook Hotel might have been quite different from what we saw in the movie.
The Identity of the Caretaker
Kubrick is renowned for his meticulously crafted movies. Nearly every scene or line of dialogue has a deeper meaning, often eluding the audience at first glance. In The Shining’s case, there’s doubt cast about who is the real main character of the film.
Throughout the movie, we hear that Jack Torrance is the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. Even some of the ghosts that inhabit the hotel tell Jack this crucial bit of info, as it seems that this role has some sort of supernatural implications. However, Jack might not be that good in his role.
Wendy is the one who’s seen taking care of the hotel, cleaning its rooms, and – spoiler alert – taking care of the hotel’s boiler. In the original novel, the Overlook’s boiler explodes and destroys the building, a fate that might be averted in the film by Wendy.
That leaves us with the possibility of Wendy being the one chosen by the spectral residents of the Overlook Hotel. But, what if all that, including the ghosts, apparitions, and most of the hotel’s bloody history, were figments of Wendy’s overactive imagination?
Life is but a Dream
The idea that Wendy might be hallucinating the events of The Shining might sound a bit farfetched – even by Kubrick standards. However, there are subtle clues scattered throughout the movie that hints that maybe Wendy might be distorting reality a bit.
For instance, there’s the classic scene where she goes to speak with Jack while he’s absentmindedly typing the same words over and over again. In this scene, Jack lashes out at Wendy, causing her to grow more paranoid of her husband’s actions.
On closer inspection, Jack seems puzzled after his sudden outburst, which could indicate that Wendy didn’t say anything to him. Wendy is seen reading multiple times throughout the film, and Jack even describes her as a horror fan. This could lend some credibility to the idea that Wendy was imagining Jack’s sudden madness.
Other odd moments include Wendy watching TV with Danny. This otherwise charming family moment is ruined when you notice that the TV isn’t plugged. Many other oddities like this also happen to occur whenever the movie focuses on Wendy, which could indicate that she’s as much of an unreliable narrator as Jack Torrance himself.
Perhaps the Overlook really is cursed, causing whoever is in charge to go mad. The thing is, that maybe we’ve been giving Jack too much credit all this time. If Wendy truly is the caretaker and she’s the one who’s lost her marbles, the future might not be looking too bright for poor old Danny after all.
What do you think? Which theory do you believe? Does the Wendy theory explain The Shining?