Hamlet & The Lion King

Similar Plots; Different Endings by Tiffany Parkerson

"'Tis an unweeded garden / That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature / Possess it merely." (II.ii.139-141)

Hamlet describes the kingdom of Denmark as an unweeded garden, showing the corruption and disintegration of the monarchy after his father's death and his uncle's rise to power. Weeds are used throughout the play to emphasize how Claudius has permeated the kingdom and is gradually destroying it's beauty.

In Disney's The Lion King, the animation changes once Scar is in power. The darker colors and dismal landscape are used to illustrate a corruption similar to the one Hamlet sees in Denmark. The African savannah is no longer lush and welcoming under Scar's rule, just as Denmark becomes overrun by corruption.

The Women: Nala vs. Ophelia

In Hamlet, Ophelia and Hamlet have a tumultuous relationship. In some of her last lines before she commits suicide, Ophelia laments. " O, woe is me/T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!" (III.i.108-109). She is heartbroken by his ill treatment toward her, and she can no longer bear to be caught up in the conflict between her father, Polonius, and Hamlet. Hamlet eventually kills Polonius as he is hiding behind a tapestry.

Nala's character in The Lion King remains innocent throughout the tale. She and Simba live happily ever after; whereas Hamlet and Ophelia are both dead at the end of the play.

The Villains: Scar vs. Claudius

Both Claudius and Scar are uncles to the main characters. Both usurp their nephews in order to gain power and both meet their demise at the hand of their own nephews in then end. Claudius shows signs of admitting to murdering his own brother, King Hamlet, and laments his own evil-doings: "O, my offence is rank it smells to heaven" (III.iii.36). He feels guilty but not enough to publicly acknowledge his offense or to apologize to Hamlet. He marries Queen Gertrude, his brother's widow. Prince Hamlet never accepts this relationship.

The Comedy Ladder in The Lion King

Note: Hamlet is a tragedy, so the elements of comedy do not apply.

  1. Low comedy: Pumba and Timone's slapstick and Pumba's noxious bodily humor exemplify this.
  2. Farce: Simba's true identity as a prince is unknown during his time in the jungle.
  3. Comedy of Manners: Rafiki's word play and wit is the best example of this type.
  4. Comedy of Ideas: Simba represents the idea of the Prodigal Son Returned. He is lost for a while, but he eventually takes his true place on the thrown as his father's son.