High School English Curriculum
Apart of today’s high school English curriculum, is exposure to famous literary works of William Shakespeare.The famous tragedy of Hamlet, where the character of Hamlet struggles with reality, moral integrity, and the overwhelming desire to avenge his father’s death has lead to a full, screen version that the whole family can enjoy.Walt Disney’s, legendary The Lion King Movie, is a comparison to William Shakespeare's, Hamlet, however adapted for the diverse younger audience.Nevertheless the result of the main character Simba parallels Hamlet’s journey.Simba a young lion cub struggles against himself, his guilt and running from his past.Good vs Evil is the theme both Shakespeare and Disney embrace in their storyline, however the literary style of Shakespeare embodies the true meaning of a dark tragedy, Hamlet succumbs to insanity and death, Disney’s style captures a magical enthusiastic theme, embracing Simba’s journey, coming full circle, overcoming his struggles to take his rightful place as king, good in the end triumphs.
These two stories have Hamlet and Simba at war with themselves, running away and struggling with family conflicts, reality and responsibility.Unbeknownst as to who or how their fathers were murdered, both Hamlet and Simba discover the truth at different times thus altering the theme of the story and affecting how and if good overcomes evil.Hamlet always suspected his uncle, Claudius, “O my prophetic soul? My Uncle?” (Shakespeare 62).With the knowledge of this immoral act and cruelty of his uncle, Hamlet is overtaken with thoughts of revenge and suicide, leading to insanity and his end.Simba, on the other hand goes on a journey of discovery before learning of the reality of his father’s death, thereby altering the tragedy of this knowledge resulting in a different reaction for our protagonist.Simba, upon confronting his uncle, tells him, “Run. Run away Scar and never return.” (Lion King. Dir Rob Minkoff. Dir. Roger Allers. Walt Disney Studios, 1994. Film.)The reality of the death of their fathers at the hands of their uncles are the same and still equally impactful for the sons.The important point to realize is the timing of the discovery and how it is accepted by Hamlet and Simba. Evidence continues to compile on the parallels to our classic stories that will affect how good can overcome evil.At one point both Hamlet and Simba both wish to be dead.Hamlet to himself, “To be or not to be.”(Shakespeare, 138), here Hamlet struggles and questions to stay alive or avenge his father’s death.This internal struggle puts Hamlet on a path that in the end amounts to him committing a murder, something that leaves him so fragile, he can not overcome and goes insane.Simba, also wishes to be dead, the difference here is Simba befriended by two supportive characters, Timon and Pumbaa.They bring Simba back and give him reason to step up and believe in his worth, this tragic hero is transformed into the rightful hero.This becomes the symbolic definition on how good overcomes evil.How right from wrong will set one free, how family and friends are vial for self growth and worth.Hamlet even though our hero in our story by Shakespeare, remains a tragic hero, as he has no supportive means at his disposal, thereby inducing insanity in order to cope.Comparatively the selfish characters of Claudius and Scar in both stories have an unpleasant image.Both characters are evil and scheme to control and destroy people for their advancement and will.Scar forwarns Mufasa, “No, perhaps you shouldn't turn your back on me!”(Lion King. Dir Rob Minkoff. Dir. Roger Allers. Walt Disney Studios, 1994. Film.)Nonetheless both uncles are the villians, unlike the question as to our heroes. To say nothing of the supportive roles of the females in the stories would markedly omit important perspective influences to our tragic heros lives.In Hamlet, Ophelia is Hamlet’s love interest.At one point it is considered that Ophelia would demonstrate a key element in supporting Hamlet, specifically for our hero to overcome his struggles.Unfortunately this will not be the case, Ophelia herself is also manipulated at the hands of villains, so much so, she too loses her mind and dies.Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother is hugely influential in Hamlet’s life, he idolizes his mother but altogether her life values and choices would be in direct conflict to Hamlet’s, thereby lacking Hamlet’s ability to rise above tragedy and torment.Consequently the women in Hamlet bring no resolve to Hamlet, who will remain tragic.Nala and Sarabi from The Lion King are purposeful in the development of good overcoming evil.Nala convinces Simba to come home, she demonstrates the power of supportive actions and influences Simba decision, “What else matters, you are alive, that means you are the King.” (Lion King. Dir Rob Minkoff. Dir. Roger Allers. Walt Disney Studios, 1994. Film.)Equally important are the values of Simba’s mother, Sarabi, this is enough to otherwise turn evil into triumph as Simba realizes his value, worth and duty. By the end the parallel to the stories diverge between our literary masterpiece of Hamlet and the modern day rendition of the animated movie, The Lion King.Disney respectfully follows William Shakespeare’s literary creation of Hamlet, which was created some four hundred years ago.The plot, conflict, climax of good vs evil is reflected, however Disney’s Lion King does not end in tragedy but emerges triumphantly.Hamlet’s lesson that seeking revenge on someone will not get that person what they want, in fact it will get them in the same place as the evil doers themselves.The Lion King romanticizes the lesson, a heroic end of good overcoming evil.Simba chooses to forgive his murderous uncle, setting him free but fate ends up killing the uncle anyway.This change was necessary, to Shakespeare's tragic end of Hamlet.It was Disney’s way of bringing a literary classic to the screen for another generation to appreciated. Allowing a fairy tale end to be created for the animation movie of The Lion King was an influencing factor, better to believe that good does overcome evil, eventually.