Similarities and Differences between the Lion King and Hamlet

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Updated: Apr 29, 2022
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2022/04/29
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Similarities and Differences between the Lion King and Hamlet essay

William Shakespeare was one of the most influential English writers during the 15th and 16th century. The works of Shakespeare consisted of tragedy, poetry, historical, and comedy. During his life, Shakespeare had written hundreds of poems, quotes that are used to date, and over 30 + plays. Since then these plays have been remade into movies during the recent 20th and 21st centuries. Shakespeare even managed to create almost 3,000 words and phrases to the English language, words that continue to be used in today’s day and age. One of Shakespeare’s most famous plays is Hamlet. This is a tragedy about Prince Hamlet of Denmark who comes to attend the funeral of his father King Hamlet. During this event, a ghost appears to Hamlet stating that he is Prince Hamlet’s father and that he was murdered by his own brother Claudius (the present king). He tells prince Hamlet of Denmark that until his death is brought to justice his spirit will remain until his death is avenged. 

The prince decides to investigate further. The play of Hamlet has not only been made into movies a numerous amount of times, but there are also films and tv series that been based from the play Hamlet, one of them being The Lion King. The Lion King is a 20th century animated musical film about a young prince cub named Simba who is thrown out of his own pride by his uncle Scar who claims that Simba is the reason for his father Mufasa’s death. Hamlet and The Lion King have a lot of similarities. I will explore how these two stories are similar as well as see what their differences are. In the story of Hamlet, you have the main character being Hamlet. He is the son of King Hamlet who tragically dies by poison. In The Lion King, the main character is Simba son of King Mufasa. King Mufasa also has a fatal death when he is thrown from a cliff. In both films, these fathers come in the form of a spirit to their sons. Both fathers were loving and had a significant impact on their son’s lives. The main difference I noticed was the age at which each son lost their fathers. Hamlet being a grown man while Simba is still a lion cub. Then there are the protagonists. In Hamlet, you have Claudius who is the brother of King Hamlet. In Hamlet, the ghost of King Hamlet claims that he dies at the hands of his brother Claudius. Hamlet is also sent away by Claudius who persuades him to go to England where he encounters an ambush from pirates. 

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Claudius also marries his brother’s widow Queen Gertrude the mother of Prince Hamlet which most would see as a betrayal. In the animated film The Lion King, the protagonist is Scar. He is the younger brother of King Mufasa. Scar kills his brother King Mufasa but blames the murder on young Simba causing him to flee the pride lands. Scar also sends young Simba into exile by having a pack of hyenas chase his out of the Pride Lands. Both protagonists were envious, jealous, and had a thirst for power that they were willing to kill for it. These two characters are so similar it’s scary, the main differences I noticed was the way they murdered their own blood, and how they were initially introduced. Claudius already had the thrown at the beginning of Hamlet, while Scar had taken his position later in the story. In both acts, you also have the sidekick or friend. Prince Hamlet of Denmark’s friend was Horatio. Horatio was the only true and loyal friend of Prince Hamlet. I believe that Horatio was a trusted friend of Prince Hamlet because he was not afraid to speak openly and freely to Hamlet. When the guards sent Horatio to address the ghost, he was unafraid, and when Hamlet was dying, Horatio offered to give up his own life to be beside his friend. Horatio is also the one who lives to tell Hamlet’s truth. This is a friendship that is unique, I don’t know of many friends willing to give up their own lives when they know that their friend is still going to die. 

In the Lion King, Simba has an array of friends but the two closest friends he had were Timon and Pumba. After Simba is sent out in exile, he has become dehydrated and has not had food in quite some time. He passes out in the desert where he is found and rescued by Timon and Pumba. Although these two provide a lot of laughter, they also give emotional support to Simba who believes he is the cause of his father’s death. When Simba returns to Pride Rock to take back his throne, Timon and Pumba are there ready to fight the good fight. Essentially these two were also willing to give up their own lives dying on the front line fighting for their friend. In the differences of friends, Horatio was an educated intellectual who seemed to be fearless vs Timon and Pumba who didn’t always appear to be the brightest, but some of the quotes they said were some of the smartest things. Also, Hamlet only had one true ally that being Horatio. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern acted like they were friends of Hamlets, but when asked by Claudius to spy on Hamlet they didn’t hesitate to do so. In Simba’s case, there wasn’t one friend who ever betrayed Simba’s trust. The Lion King certainly had a lot of similarities; however, another difference was how each story ended. Hamlet was a very somber and sad tragedy wherein the end almost every character died. Not only that they all died very tragic deaths. Hamlet kills Claudius, Ophelia drowns, Gertrude dies at the hand of her husband, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are killed by England, and Hamlet dies very similarly to the way his father did, poison. The Lion King, like most American tales of today’s time end with a happy ending. The only characters who die in the animation are Mufasa and Scar. The story ends with Simba regaining his throne as king of the pride lands, and him starting a family with Nala. This is a children’s film, so it makes sense that it has a happy ending. The setting of each story also played a factor. 

Hamlet was set in England during the 14th and 15th century. The Lion King was set in Africa. It doesn’t specify what country but looking at the open plains and wildlife it appears it could be set in East Africa i.e. Kenya. However, it is hard to tell what time it is set in. Earlier this year I decided to find out about my African ancestry, so I took a DNA test that would pinpoint what African tribe I was from. In my testing, I found out that I was from the Mende tribe located in Sierra Leone West Africa. I wanted to see how West Africa differed from that of the 15th century Middle Ages of England. What I found was there were both some similarities and differences although these places are thousands of miles apart. Ruling Similarities In the Middle Ages government was settled around a monarchy this is where ruling and decisions made are held by an individual person. The clergy was at the top of the food chain, and peasants were the least significant. The pre-colonial history of Sierra Leona there wasn’t many kingships established. Sierra Leona was mainly populated by tribes. Tradition and culture. The Mende people generally lived in small towns they were people of agriculture and were hunters. Marriages are generally polygamous where there is one man who is married to multiple wives and children. Other family members may also live amongst the household such as a sister or brother. If there was another male sibling living in the household there is only one dominant male who has authority. The middle ages in certain aspects were like that of the Mende tribe. In Medieval times it was a struggle for most people. Peasants had to work hard in order to earn money to take care of their family. They also grew their food, but I didn’t see that they were hunters of some sort. The wealthy which were kings queens merchants and clergy didn’t have it as hard. 

As far as hard work goes that was almost nonexistent as they had domestic help to complete any tasks they requested. Religious Beliefs Mende people believed in Monotheism. They had one god in which they referred to as Ngewo. The writing says that after Ngewo created the world he goes to heaven. Ngewo gives his people the freedom of choice and when it comes to good and evil seldom intercedes. There is an evil entity that exists which is called Ngafanga. Mende people will as for safekeeping and grace through sacrifice and other ceremonies. Medieval religion was widely governed by the Roman Catholic church, it was the only way to make it to heaven. Medieval people were of Monotheism religion, they had one person they worshipped, and they called his God. They believed there was a good and a bad place people went when they died which they called heaven and hell. With leading with fear of being sent to hell it was a way of ensuring people paid tithes to the church. I see these religions as very similar aside from the name they called their Gods. They both had sacrifices that they had to put up in order to ensure they God’s blessing. Although the Middle Ages took place in England, and my Mende ancestors were settled in the West African country of Sierra Leone, I believe we as humans inherently have a lot more in common than we realize. If we could get past the religious beliefs, class, and the melanin of our skin and see us for who we truly are human this world would certainly be a better place to live for generations to come.

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Similarities and Differences Between The Lion King and Hamlet. (2022, Apr 29). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/similarities-and-differences-between-the-lion-king-and-hamlet/