Reading Hamlet? Or Watching the Lion King?

Image from,_or_The_History_of_King_Simba_I

Image from,_or_The_History_of_King_Simba_I

School is boring. School assigned readings are boring. But you know what’s not boring? 

Poorly edited live-action remakes of beloved family classics.

Okay, maybe the new “Lion King” is a little boring. But most students would rather watch a crappy movie than read Shakespeare. However, there is an interesting tie between Disney’s “Lion King” and Shakespeare’s classic Hamlet. Think about; the ghost of a murdered father, a lost prince, an evil uncle? Sound familiar?

Hamlet tells the story of a young Danish prince, Hamlet, whose father is murdered. Rather than passing the crown on to him, the prince’s uncle, Claudius, takes control. The prince learns that his uncle had poisoned the former king while he slept so he could take over the throne. When reading Hamlet in school, this story may seem boring and hard to follow. But perhaps it would be easier to understand if you replace renaissance Denmark with the Serengeti; or the royal family with a pack of lions. Suddenly, you’ve got a new hit movie. Claudius’ murder of his brother is perfectly similar to Scar’s murder of Simba’s father; both sought to take control of the throne, both committed murder to achieve it, and both of their nephews had to clean up the mess.

“The Lion King,” tells the tale of Simba, next in line to be the leader of his pride. His uncle, Scar, is angered that an irresponsible child will come into power before him. To gain power, Scar kills the lion’s father. Simba then flees to a rainforest where he lives in blissful denial of what his uncle may be doing. Simba tries to avoid going back to his home and fighting his uncle because fighting Scar seems too awful to even think about. This is quite similar to Hamlet procrastinating his revenge on Claudius, feigning insanity to avoid responsibility. Neither character wants to harm their family, so both ignore the issue until it is nearly too late.

Acknowledging this parallel may seem useless, unnecessary, and, well, stupid; but that’s because it is. But that’s why it works. Next time you’re fumbling over a passage or struggling to understand prose, picture the whole thing as “The Lion King” to make it easier to understand. 


Is that ridiculous? 


Does it work? 


Is it hilarious? 


And isn’t that all that really matters?