oh i just can’t wait to be (or not to be) king

September 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

In Rosemarie Gavin’s article, “The Lion King and Hamlet: A Homecoming for the Exiled Child”, the Woburn Collegiate Institute professor discusses the similarities between the two different but equally brilliant works. By studying them simultaneously, Gavin’s students were able to discover that both story’s protagonists represent the archetype of the exiled child forced to restore order to his world. The students found similarities between The Lion King and Hamlet in terms of the characters, themes, ending scenes and archetypal patterns.
Gavin’s students noticed that both Hamlet and Simba are princes banished from their homes who return at the end of the story to avenge their lost fathers. Both boys’ late fathers appear to them and  help them to fulfill their duties. Gertrude and Sarabi are manipulated and used by their brothers in-law. Both Simba and Hamlet have villainous and greedy uncles. Hamlet and Simba are both overcome by guilt regarding the deaths of their fathers.  Claudius and Scar were willing to commit fratricide in order to make political gains. Gavin discusses how the themes of revenge, absolute power and innocence versus experience are prevalent themes in The Lion King and Hamlet. Gavin also highlights the fact that Disney and Shakespeare used the archetypal pattern of the exiled child to shape their heroes and how at the end of both stories peace is restored and power is returned to the proper ruler.
I enjoyed this article and felt that the similarities highlighted were quite striking. I did however disagree with her belief that her students experience similar mythical patterns in their own lives. The first time I read Hamlet I did notice similarities between Scar and Claudius and was glad that Gavin and her students did too. Simba and Hamlet are very similar characters in terms of their circumstances but I do feel that Simba is a much better hero than Hamlet because of the way he deals with adversity. Junior year my friends and I dubbed Hamlet the emo prince of Denmark. Hamlet is much more fearful than Simba and struggles to commit to his duties. The guilt surrounding the death of Hamlet’s father was based upon the fact that he, a mature and educated prince, couldn’t man up and avenge his father’s death while Simba, a tiny lion cub,  felt responsible for causing his father’s death. Simba did what Scar tricked him into thinking was honorable while Hamlet lacked the courage to be honorable. Hamlet alienates all the people who care for him while fulfilling his duty while Simba makes friends along the way. Simba is also a strong enough leader to assume the throne while Hamlet dies a whiny death and leaves the  throne  to a foreigner. There were a few differences between The Lion King and Hamlet that I was grateful for. Thank goodness that Nala doesn’t meet Ophelia’s fate! It’s also a relief that The Lion King has less deaths than its Shakespearean counterpart.

Hamlet similar to Lion King?

September 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Does the centuries old play really have similarities to the twentieth century children’s film? The academic article that I found, from the English Journal, is a comparison of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Disney’s the Lion King. The teacher describes how at first, her students struggle to understand Hamlet, but through connections to the Lion King, it becomes increasingly easy.

The author believes that Hamlet and the Lion King are very common stories set in different times and that each of the main characters, Hamlet and Simba, can show the students a lot about life. At first, I tend to agree with this article. Simba and Hamlet both have their fathers killed and are banished from their homes for actions they didn’t commit, where they face a lot of danger. Then both characters survive these dangers and are spoken to by their deceased fathers who motivate them to save their people. Then they both return to take on their villainous uncles, who have mistreated his people. After epic battles, both characters reclaim their thrones and are rightfully given back their throne. Finally, both movies end with a glorious final scene as both Simba and Hamlet are praised by their people. Up until this point, I can see the authors argument completely and the similarities are hard to miss.

The author takes it too far though, when he begins to describe how the children in his class too are on a hero’s journey. He says that his students are just like Simba and Hamlet which isn’t possible. I understand that the teacher is trying to be positive and make the kids feel good about themselves, but he is just filling them with false hope. In Hamlet and the Lion King, the stories are designed so that the audiences leave  glad that the main character made a miraculous journey to the top. It is unrealistic to expect these young students to do what either character did, because they are both fictional stories and it only sets the students up for failure with almost unachievable expectations.

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