Hamlet Vs Lion King: The Themes Of Revenge In Shakespeare's And Disney's Classics

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Going in to this project, I decided that I wanted to do a project Lion King because of its near perfect adaptation from Hamlet, except for the happy ending. Shakespeare’s plays so often end poorly for his characters and I enjoy happy endings. I was able to identify 10 character similarities and 25 points of plot connection between Lion King and the original form of Hamlet, which I outlined in my three charts above. In the first two charts, I mirror the identities of the characters against each other. Almost all characters in the two adaptations have an equivalent character in the other adaptation. One of them is a bit of a stretch—the hyenas being Laertes—but they honestly do him justice during the plot line. The only other discrepancy between these charts is that only the Hamlet adaptation shows the marriage between the Queen and Claudius. 

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On the main comparison chart, I divided everything into similarities and differences, with differences having a subcategory for each adaptation. In similarities, there are 7 main spokes that branch into smaller characteristics. The one marked, “Indecision/ Struggle with Self,” is revisited in differences because of the duality of this issue with the characters. In differences, I’ve separated everything into two categories and then 8 subcategories. I felt that the differences were much more important to catalogue than the similarities because similarities don’t make much of a difference to the plot. Therefore, the differences all have more in-depth explanations than the similarities categories. In this section, you can also see the connected difference category which describes the differing motivations for Simba and Hamlet's indecisiveness about their crowns. In the Lion King’s differences, I began with the subcategory of morality guides. Simba grows up with a morality guide in the form of Zazu, who helps him make better decisions than he otherwise would, though not at a very successful pace. When Simba grows up, Zazu is replaced by Rafiki, who was once also an advisor to his father. These characters mirror the positions of Polonius and Horatio, the advisors of King Hamlet. 

Next, I noted that Simba’s father died during his childhood instead of when he was fully grown—as Hamlet's father died when he was an adult. It is a small difference, but it enables Scar to manipulate Simba into self-imposing exile instead of having to force him away like Claudius did to Hamlet. The Lion King’s most notable difference is that it ends happily. Hamlet is famously known for being a bloody, death laden play but this adaptation transforms it into a message of new beginnings. Simba gets to keep his friends, his family, and his own life too. Hamlet has three main differences from the Lion King that are fairly crucial to the plot but were best left out of a children’s film. First, there were several minor characters that became plot critical—or more exactly—their deaths were plot critical. The death of Polonius is what snowballed the deaths of everyone else in the original adaptation of Hamlet. With that being said, another major difference between the two adaptations is that almost all of the characters die in Hamlet; the Lion King only sees one death. 

At the end of Hamlet, only Horatio and Fortinbras are left to tell the tale. Another detail of Hamlet that was completely left out of the Lion King is the immediate remarriage of the Queen to the new King. Scar has absolutely no interest in Sarabi or the other lionesses as anything other than food providers. The plot characteristics that Hamlet has over the Lion King were the “scandalous” situations that would have caused problems for Disney. The sources I used are cited below. I didn’t feel the need to look for additional sourcing because I created a character web as I watched the film, to keep the characters straight. This project allowed me to put those ideas down on paper and create some neat graphs out of them. I hope they are as interesting to read as they were fun to make.

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Hamlet Vs Lion King: The Themes Of Revenge In Shakespeare’s And Disney’s Classics. (2021, Jun 16). WritingBros. Retrieved June 25, 2024, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/hamlet-vs-lion-king-the-themes-of-revenge-in-shakespeares-and-disneys-classics/
“Hamlet Vs Lion King: The Themes Of Revenge In Shakespeare’s And Disney’s Classics.” WritingBros, 16 Jun. 2021, writingbros.com/essay-examples/hamlet-vs-lion-king-the-themes-of-revenge-in-shakespeares-and-disneys-classics/
Hamlet Vs Lion King: The Themes Of Revenge In Shakespeare’s And Disney’s Classics. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/hamlet-vs-lion-king-the-themes-of-revenge-in-shakespeares-and-disneys-classics/> [Accessed 25 Jun. 2024].
Hamlet Vs Lion King: The Themes Of Revenge In Shakespeare’s And Disney’s Classics [Internet]. WritingBros. 2021 Jun 16 [cited 2024 Jun 25]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/hamlet-vs-lion-king-the-themes-of-revenge-in-shakespeares-and-disneys-classics/
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