Compare and Contrast: Hamlet and the Lion King

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Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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Compare and Contrast: Hamlet and the Lion King

This essay will compare and contrast Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and the Disney film “The Lion King.” It will explore the similarities in their themes, characters, and plot elements, as well as the differences in their presentation and audience. The piece will discuss how “The Lion King” adapts and reinterprets the classic story for a different medium and audience, examining the impact of these changes on the story’s meaning and reception. PapersOwl showcases more free essays that are examples of Hamlet.

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The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it. Hamlet, is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare. Set in Denmark, the play dramatises the revenge Prince Hamlet is called to wreak upon his uncle, Claudius, by the ghost of Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet. The Lion King is a Disney feature based on a young lion Simba the heir of his father the king Mufasa. Simba’s wicked uncle, Scar, plots to usurp Mufasa’s throne by luring father and son into a stampede of wildebeests.

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But Simba escapes, and only Mufasa is killed. Simba returns as an adult to take back his homeland from Scar with the help of his friends Timon and Pumbaa.

Hamlet and Lion King Similarities

Both The Lion King and Hamlet have many things in common. Such as the characters, themes, lessons, and social hierarchy. With all of the similarities there is obviously going to be some major differences.

We will be taking a look at the main characters in their particular stories. Prince Hamlet and Simba both lose their father’s that have been killed by their brothers. Both are deeply affected by the loss of their father’s, they lose their mentor figure and are left to be own their own, each of them run from their responsibility. Hamlet and Mufasa are both the kings of their kingdoms and meet an unfortunate fate when their brother leads them to their death. With their death it sends the princes to not deal with keeping their kingdoms intact. Scar and Claudius are the evil uncle of the family that no one likes. Both convince the princes to leave, Scar convinces Simba that he is responsible for his father’s death and advises him to run away.

Similarly, Claudius sends Prince Hamlet to London so that his evil plan of murdering him comes to play. However, both uncles fail as both the heirs return home with the knowledge of their uncles’ evil deeds. Sarabi and Gertrude are the queens of the kingdom they did not assist in the killing of the king. Timon, Pumba, and Horatio are the friends of the prince which help them come out of a depressed state to show that there is a bright side to everything. Zazu and Polonius are the royal advisors to the king. They both try to help the king to rule the kingdom and to give them advice. Nailia and Ophelia are the lovers of the prince. They just want to be with the prince, both were suppose to get married but due to the kings death that all changed.

There are three themes in The Lion king and Hamlet, they are greed is the root of all evil, the circle of life, and revenge. We can see this in both stories, for greed is the root of all evil we see how much the kingdoms change when the uncles take over as king. The circle of life is shown as an end to the old kings and to the rise of the new kings.Finally revenge this is expressed when Hamlet’s father talks to him as a ghost ad tells him to revenge me so in the end he ends up killing his uncle fulfilling his father’s wish. In The Lion King this is expressed when Simba gets a ghost of his father in the sky telling him to go back to pride rock and to be king which in the end lets him get revenge for his uncle pushing Mufasa into the stampede of wildebeest.

Hamlet and Lion King Differences

But as I said before there are some differences between theses two stories and we will see how this shaped into an overall story. Simba loses his father at a young age compared to Hamlet who lost his father at a much older age.Simba wanted to let Scar live and to never come back to pride rock but Scar being Scar used that opportunity to try and kill Simba once again but, Hamlet only seeked revenge for his father’s death making sure that Claudius suffers for the crimes that he has committed . Simba runs away from his problems when Mufasa is killed unlike Hamlet who pretends to be mad and set up cat and mouse traps to try to get Claudius to admit killing his brother. Hamlet senior we only know that he wanted Hamlet to avenge him compared to Mufasa who just wants Simba to have his part in the circle of life which means being king. Scar is that one uncle you hope that you never see at thanksgiving dinner just because everytime you see him he sets you up inn an elaborate plan to kill you as we see Scar attempt to do until he kills Mufasa and convinces Simba to flee. But Claudius is the uncle who always tries to sleep with your mom which once he kills the king that doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore Gertrude remarried with Claudius which turns out not really working out for her as we see at the end of Hamlet.

Timon and Pumba just want Simba to be living life all hukana matta everythings all good just living life to the fullest. Horatio just wants Hamlet to be alive not wanting him to be completely overfilled with hatred for what Claudius has done. Zazu tries to give Simba guidance in his younger years in hope that it would lead him to be a good king one day. Polonius on the other hand tried to set up Hamlet in some traps to see how crazy he truly is. Also unlike Zazu Polonius is killed by Hamlet when he was hiding behind the curtains eavesdropping on him and Gertrude. Nala is a lioness and behaves like one defying others to save her love Simba. However Ophelia is a feeble minded young lady who is a blind follower to her father Polonius and follows his wishes to stay away from Hamlet. Sarabia does not remarry to Scar unlike how Gertrude did to Claudius. So in such Getrude remains a feeble queen doing to Claudius bidding. Sarabia is too a lioness in which she literally and figuratively doesn’t flinch from questioning Scar.

The difference in themes is that for the circle in life we see in Hamlet that almost everyone dies in the end which for them should really be called the circle of death. But in The Lion King we see Simba returning as king and now leading his kingdom at pride rock just like his father. Greed being the root of all evil is shown in Hamlet as Claudius being killed just like his brother being stabbed and poisoned for poisoning his brother. In The Lion King we see Scar being blinded by his greed and his morals to always be on top is what lead to his downfall he didn’t want to run away like a coward when Simba told him to run away and never to return but Scar being Scar does not leave and tries to kill Simba again which leads to him being killed and eaten by the hyenas. Finally revenge we see that Hamlet loses just about everything just to appease his father’s ghost only to be left to die slowly by being stabbed with a poisoned blade unlike Simba who now has a kingdom to rule,

So overall Hamlet and The Lion King are almost very much the same even though it obviously had to be changed since it is of course is a Disney film and kids seeing everyone die is probably not a good way to teach kids a lesson. But both stories show that there is a circle of life and that you should be humble.

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Compare and Contrast: Hamlet and The Lion King. (2019, Oct 22). Retrieved from