The main story elements and plot of Hamlet, a classic by William Shakespeare, was very influential to the plot of The Lion King, one of Disney’s most well known movies, illustrates many characteristics and aspects of Hamlet, though in the form of a Disney film. The Lion King follows the popular plot, conflict, climax, and resolution which Shakespeare had originally written on paper over 400 years ago. However, all of Disney’s animation movies end with a happy ending, which means that movie writers of The Lion King had to change certain story aspects of Hamlet to make the movie more appropriate for young audiences. Disney did fairly well giving the dark, complex story plot of Hamlet in The Lion King, but not overplaying it for a Disney movies, with just a few flaws to the plot line.
The effect that Shakespeare’s Hamlet had on The Lion King is obvious through character comparisons, conflicts, and struggles of morality in the characters. Simba, has his share of hardships and worries, which can be related easily to Hamlet. Both characters lose their father and they both wish to be alone afterward. To escape his fear from witnessing the death of his father, Simba runs away from the pride in fear of Scar, wishing only to return and be a king like his father. Hamlet runs from his responsibilities, seeking revenge and having thoughts of suicide attacking his mind. Hamlet is forced to decide if it is morally correct to seek revenge on this uncle, Simba also has to make the decision to face Scar and retake leadership of his, and his father’s pride.
There were two main obstacles that Simba had to go through, which were the hyenas and his uncle, Scar. If you consider this, it’s another example of how Simba is given a little more leeway in his state of recovery, and is essentially properly nursed into adulthood after his trauma, much unlike Hamlet, who faced many more struggles. Simba was also thrown into a happy, carefree environment in his mourning period, so he didn’t mourn nearly as much as Hamlet did. In Hamlet, the death of his father plagued Hamlet’s mind for the whole stretch of the play. Simba, however, did seek to be more like his father and carry out his wishes, as well as his legacy.
Both kings suffer a tragic death, they are both essentially stabbed in the back by their own brother, witnessed by their sons. Scar and Claudius, characterized as Simbas and Hamlets uncles both use gruesome tactics to force their way to the throne. The mothers also have little, to no power over their kingdom, leaving the uncles in full charge when they take over. When Simba returned to Pride Rock to rightfully take his place on the throne, he was enraged by how Scar treated his mother, just like how Hamlet was furious about how Claudius didn’t treat his mother as well as his father once did. Disney did an amazing job at preserving the main ideas and character significance of the original piece, without taking out anything important.
The Lion King is a children’s perspective on a very gruesome story of revenge and responsibility. Disney was clever in adapting the story plot to a children’s audience. Most of the differences between the two works are due to the fact that Disney had to alter some of the stories plot to teach children better moral lessons and to have a more positive effect on younger audiences.
Presenting the famous “Hakuna Matata” song, meaning “no worries” when Simba ran away and finding a carefree and happy life was a big change from the original Hamlet plot, to help children realize that problems can get better if they stop overthinking and worrying about them. The Hamlet version of this, if shown to small children, might make them think too hard on their own issues, because movies and shows that children learn from can be very influential to the way that they think.
The Lion king is still a great representation of Hamlet, with modern day morals and important life lessons. Even though Hamlet is very dark schemes and dialogue, it teaches the lesson that taking revenge doesn’t get a person very far, it’s best to be the better person and let things go. Simba announces in the fight against Scar uncle that he wouldn’t kill him because he wasn’t like him. In the end, fate ended up killing his uncle anyway, though not to Simba’s hand, so the Lion King also doesn’t show the protagonist break his own moral code like Hamlet does. Throughout the plot, settings, characters and lessons, Disney did very well by reinterpreting the tale of Hamlet in a very optimistic and more cheerful way, with very few flaws to the plot.