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Author Study: Stephen King Curated by Eric Zhang '18

A LibGuide about Stephen King.

Criticisms and Analysis

Literary Themes and Motifs

Death and Fear – These two are the bread and butter of any horror writer. Every one of King's works involves these themes in one way or another, although some feature fear and death more than others. For example, death plays a relatively small role in The Shining (it is seldom mentioned or discussed explicitly, and does not come into play until the climax of the story), while fear is omnipresent in all parts of the book. 

Memory – Memory is an oft-recurring theme in King's novels. The past of each characters adds depth and meaning. Jack Torrance in The Shining is tormented by the faults and regrets of his own personal past throughout the novel, which help drive on his descent into madness. In It, the repressed memories of the seven protagonists serve as the driving force behind the novel's plot – as each character recalls more about his troubled childhood, he is increasingly driven to defeat the demon that caused his trauma.

Childhood – King's novels tend to place childhood and adolescence in high regard, or at least give it a great deal of attention. The Shining, Doctor Sleep, Carrie and The Stand all involve child protagonists who are unnaturally, perhaps supernaturally, gifted. The power of childhood innocence is often explored in Stephen King's writing, but more often, King tends to explore childhood itself. It, The Body, Rage and others bring childhood and adolescence into the spotlight.