Ultimately, Steven, as you know, it’s all semantics. There’s no one way or right way to analyze a story. So allow me to toss my Want and Need take re Jack in The Shining.

His Conscious Goal (Want) is to write the novel. That’s why he took the gig (ostensibly). But of all the gigs in the world, he takes *this* one! Pure Jung: “When an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate.” Jack lands a job in a remote hotel which is cut off from the outside world during winter. The hotel, its ghosts, and violent history can be seen to be a projection of Jack’s own psyche as *he* has ‘ghosts’ (shadow) and violent instincts. When he settles in at the bar and begins to drink (again), that symbolizes how he’s moving away from his efforts to control his shadow instincts and give into them. Which leads to…

Unconscious Goal (Need): His fate is to allow his shadow side to take over his psyche. That’s the story’s narrative imperative. “It happens outside as fate.” This gig at the hotel offers him a choice: Confront his shadow and synthesize it in a healthy, emotional way… or yield to it and become a monster.

His fate is the latter.

The Shining is Taxi Driver set in a hotel, both Protagonists ceding their conscious behavior to their shadow. It’s the same as Breaking Bad where Walter White becomes Heisenberg.

This is yet another reason why I wince when screenwriters get caught up in the “what is the Protagonist’s wound” or “what is the Protagonist’s flaw.” Protagonists — at least compelling ones — have much more going on, not just issue or incident in the past (which, of course, they may have), but an active psychological dynamic roiling around in the subconscious layer of their psyche. It’s *that* they have to deal with. And when the external circumstances of the Plotline are tied specifically to that dynamic which has yet to be synthesized, then you have the makings of great drama.

As in Jack stuck in a hotel inhabited by ghosts and a violent past — LIKE JACK’S PAST! — so he is forced to confront his shadow self.

In the end, the shadow swallow up his conscious efforts to control that behavior. Jack becomes his version of Travis Bickle… Walter White… and any other story Protagonist who loses their ‘soul’ to their shadow.

So there’s my Jungian take on The Shining. More to come in my book.

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