Walt Disney has produced animated films that have captured the heart and imagination of audiences of all ages around the world through the magic of storytelling and imagery. Many of us appreciate the imagination and magic that Disney puts into its animations without knowing they are based off of classical and traditional storylines that have been around for many years. Disney’s The Lion King placed a children’s façade on a very serious story of responsibility and revenge. The Lion King doesn’t seem to be based on a fairytale, but rather on the Tragedy of Hamlet by William Shakespeare. The basic character models are concealed, and the storyline is simplified for children. But with a closer inspection of the characters themselves and the storyline, we can see just how apparent these similarities are.
It’s the story of The Lion King that closely resembles Hamlet. It is about the jealousy of an uncle named Scar towards his nephew, Simba, who is the son of the king, and rightful heir to the throne. This jealousy drives him to take drastic action to secure himself to the throne. The only way he can do this is to kill his brother, King Mufasa and Simba. Similarly in Hamlet, Hamlet Senior is poisoned by Claudius, who then ascends to the throne and marries Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude. The poison makes the king look like he died in his sleep naturally. Like the young Simba who is weak because of his young age, Prince Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play is also powerless to take the throne because of his father’s absence. At the beginning of Hamlet, in Act 1 scene 5, Hamlet is visited by the ghost of his father, Hamlet Senior. “I am thy father’s spirit, Doomed for a certain term to walk the night, And for the day confined to fast in fires…. Now, Hamlet, hear.‘tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard, A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark is by a forgèd process of my death. But know, thou noble youth, the serpent that did sting thy father’s life now wears his crown” Hamlet Senior’s ghost is saying that the snake that has stung him, is now wearing the crown. Hamlet now figures out that his uncle, Claudius, killed his father for the kingdom and the queen. Hamlet Senior told Hamlet to get revenge on his uncle for the murder and Hamlet agrees to do so. In the Lion King, Simba is also visited by his father’s ghost, Mufasa; however, Mufasa’s ghost does not appear at the beginning of the play. Simba is left alone still thinking that he killed his father- not anyone else. Mufasa