Intertextuality of The Lion King and Hamlet

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Today in these modern times so many movies and books seem so familiar. They all have the same plot or same idea. Not necessarily plagiarism, but rather a different way of expressing the same idea. One of my favorite examples of this is the intertextuality of Walt Disney Picture’s The Lion King and William Shakespeare’s much earlier production Hamlet. The story of The Lion King closely parallels that of Hamlet. At the ripe age of four, when I first saw the movie version of it, I was intrigued by the lions portraying these complex roles that seemed so original. It tells a child oriented tale about a king, Mufasa, getting murdered by his brother, Scar in an attempt to become the new king of Pride Rock. Mufasa’s son Simba, goes on an adventure taking vengeance on his father’s death, soul searching, and falling in love, a stereotypical Disney story with morals and ethics. The Disney writers cleverly concealed the basic character archetypes and simplified the story of Hamlet. The similar plots involve an evil uncle, a kingdom, and the death of the king. Both are a standard hero’s journey consisting of a call to adventure, supernatural aid, a series of thresholds, a temptress, atonement with the father, refusal to return, and a final return. From there the two stories part and end in either a happy marriage or a tragic death. Simba embodies Shakespeare’s Hamlet; he is the son of the King and rightful heir to the throne. The King of the Pridelands and ruler of Pride Rock, Mufasa, parallels Hamlet Senior, king of Denmark and ruler of Elsinore, who is killed by the uncle figure. In The Lion King, the uncle is Scar, and in Hamlet, the evil uncle figure is Claudius. Shakespeare’s Hamlet tells a more tragic and dramatic tale with a different ending. When King Hamlet Sr. is murdered by his brother, Claudius, Prince Hamlet devotes himself to avenging his father’s

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