Wendy Torrance is one of the three main characters in The Shining. She is the wife of Jack Torrance and the mother of Danny Torrance. In the 1980 film adaptation she was portrayed by Shelley Duvall. In the 1997 television adaptation she was portrayed by Rebecca De Mornay and in the 2016 opera she was portrayed by Kelly Kaduce.
Wendy Torrance is drawn, like many of King’s female characters, as a traditional wife and mother. Wendy has some psychological problems of her own: She is always unconsciously competing with her mother, who resented Wendy for the death of a younger sister, derided her choice of Jack as a husband and criticized the way she is rearing Danny.
Wendy tries to be patient and understanding, but she has little pity or forgiveness for Jack (and in this way she is her mother's daughter), forever reminding him of his failures. She does not trust her husband to be alone with Danny and competes with him for Danny’s affection. However as the situation deteriorates at the Overlook, Wendy proves to be remarkably brave and resilient as she acts to protect herself and Danny from her insane husband and the malicious ghosts that haunt the hotel.
There is a never-ending debate concerning the two different interpretations of Wendy. There are those who prefer the version of Wendy that is seen in the 1980 film. Others prefer the character as Stephen King saw the character, which was given life by Rebecca De Mornay in the 1997 television adaptation, scripted by King.
The debate covers all aspects from the differences in physical appearances to how the actresses portrayed the character.
The Shining (novel)
In the novel, Wendy is depicted as a miserable depressed stay at home housewife whose marriage is extremely rocky. She is noted as being blonde and being very beautiful. An example of this is used when the Torrances arrive at The Overlook Hotel on Closing Day during the busy time with the guests leaving and several heads turn to stare at her legs. She is nervous at first and notices the quietness of the hotel after a tour of the kitchen when the last of the guests are checking out and the staff are finishing their cleaning and duties. At first, the hotel is a blessing to Wendy and she is extremely happy, but this quickly changes when Jack starts to show signs of being mentally unstable and Danny starts to pass out and have his trances more frequently. After Danny is strangled by Mrs Massey and Wendy finds Jack in Mr Ullman's office, then looks for him outside and in the lobby and finds him with bruises on his neck, Wendy accuses Jack of hurting him, which Jack is furious about. Wendy soon starts to become frightened and becomes determined to leave the hotel. However, all possible ways are soon foiled. When Jack tries to kill Wendy, Wendy is able to defend herself and she hides in the bathroom of her quarters. She passes out when Jack goes to find Danny but comes to. However, her injuries are serious and she is weak. Dick, Danny and Wendy escape the hotel just as it explodes, killing Jack and the conclusion sees Wendy and Danny at a cabin in a campground, Wendy sore, but thankful for Dick and she and Danny mourn Jack together with Dick.
In the 2013 sequel Doctor Sleep Wendy has passed away in 1999 from lung cancer, possibly caused from the explosion of The Overlook Hotel many years ago. However, she appears in the start of the book, living with Danny after the events of The Shining in a new apartment, traumatised and timid. After Danny falls into silence after seeing Miss Massey in the bathub, she calls Dick Hallorann who helps him and Wendy. After this, she is not seen again.