Comparing Shakespeare's Hamlet and the Movie, The Lion King

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Comparing Shakespeare's Hamlet and the Movie, The Lion King

There is no doubt that today's entertainment has lost most of its touch with the more classical influences of its predecessors. However, in mid-1994, Walt Disney Pictures released what could arguably be the best animated feature of all time in The Lion King. With a moral base unlike most of the movies released at the time, TLK placed a children's facade on a very serious story of responsibility and revenge. However, this theme is one of the oldest in history, and it is not the least apparent in one of the oldest works of literature by The Bard himself, William Shakespeare. The work that Disney's TLK parallels is none other than Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, and the film shadows this work so closely, that parallels between the main characters themselves are wildly apparent. This very close comparison has led critics "to compare the movie to Hamlet in the importance of its themes" (Schwalm 1). But with a closer inspection of the characters themselves do we see just how apparent these similarities are.

In The Lion King, the role of the young prince whose father is murdered is played by a cub named Simba, whose naivete procures him more than his fair share of hardships and troubles. By the acts in the story alone, one can see that Simba is a direct representation of Shakespeare's Hamlet Jr., but not only that, each of them shares similar actions in the play. Interpretations if Simba's actions are as profound as Hamlet's, particularly of why Hamlet delayed in exacting vengeance for his father's death (Harrison 236). Both Simba and Hamlet Jr. "delay" their action of retribution for their respective father's deaths. The loss of their paternal companion leaves Hamlet incre...

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...and antagonist, but of secondary characters as well. Modern entertainment may have lost much of its roots, but comparisons such as these may well prove the old axiom: "There is no new literature being written, only old literature, redone."

Works Cited

Schwalm, Karen. "Patriarchy in the Pride Lands." 26 Apr. 1995. Online posting. Web Site. http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/~schwalm/lionking.html. World Wide Web. 2 Apr. 1998.

Harrison, G. B, ed. "The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark." Major British Writers. Harcourt, Brace, & World, Inc.: New York, 1959.

Eliot, T.S. "Hamlet." Elizabethan Essays. Haskell House: New York, 1964.

Brandes, Georg. "The Classic Tendency of the Tragedy." William Shakespeare, A Critical Study. 1898. Frederick Ungar Publishing Co: 1963.

Taymor, Julie. The Lion King: Pride Rock on Broadway. Hyperion: New York, 1997.

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