They are presented as cold and evil. Laertes, the henchman and right-hand man of Claudius, becomes, in the movie, the Hyenas. The Hyenas collectively act as hero-worshippers to Scar, loyal subjects, and fellow doers-in-evil. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are the comic reliefs in Hamlet, and in the Lion King, this role is fulfilled by Timon and Pumbaa. The main character in The Lion King is Simba. Simba is quite similar to Hamlet in that both are sons of the wrongfully murdered kings. Both princes delay their decisions to seek vengeance for their murdered fathers.
Each prince runs from their responsibilities after the death of their respected fathers, although they both know what they must do deep inside. Simba escapes reality from running away, however Hamlet escapes by feigning madness. However, in both situations, the rightful heirs to the throne escape though one way or another. Film techniques used in the Lion King to depict Simba can relate to ways in which Hamlet is portrayed. At the beginning of the film the camera angle looks up towards him, the lights shine on young Simba; the importance of his birth is immense, although Simba may be oblivious to the fact at the time.
Another parallel is the fact that both Simba and Hamlet at one stage wish to be dead. When Timon and Pumbaa find him, they believe Simba to be dead when they first find him. He is not – but wishes to be. The same could be said about Hamlet when he questions his life – “To be, or not to be”. Like Hamlet, Simba tends to need to be on his own to reflect. Hamlet and Simba are near perfect examples of tragic heroes. Both are tested to the extent of their inner strength and faith in the triumph of good.
In comparison, Scar’s selfish character is similar to that of Claudius. Both Scar and Claudius have an unpleasant image. Scar is dark in colour, skinny, with long black nails and green evil eyes. The eyes represent jealousy, greed, and envy. Both characters are “thinly veiled” and scheme to destroy people they dislike. In the opening scene of the Lion King, Mufasa confronts his brother Scar. “Don’t turn your back on me! ” Mufasa stops Scar with a warning. Scar shoots back – “No, perhaps you shouldn’t turn your back on me! ” This is a veiled threat on the king’s life.
Because the king is never introduced in Hamlet, the audience is left to wonder whether the king had any notice that his brother wanted him dead. However there is a parallel to this scene found in Hamlet. Scar shows how it is in the nature of the truly evil to have their victims know they are going to die. If they are warned of their death and do nothing, they are weak. Scar and Claudius are a strong parallel shown through their character and evil ways. The themes story of the Lion King closely parallels that of Hamlet. They are stories of jealousy, greed, and murder. Tis an unweeded garden”, is a line used in one of Hamlet’s soliloquy’s to describe the state of Denmark when Claudius takes over the throne after killing Old Hamlet. The metaphor can relate to the film, when Scar takes over the throne after murdering Mufasa; the Pridelands become drained of colour, corruption is spreading fast in Africa, as it is in Denmark, with the uncles usurping the throne and the animal kingdom. This theme of corruption and how it spreads begins with Scar plotting to murder the King. The same can be said for Hamlet. “Life’s not fair, is it? Scar’s line at the very beginning of the movie instigates the theme of corruption; Hamlet’s soliloquy explaining Denmark as an “unweeded garden” begins this theme too. Shakespeare’s example of imagery in Hamlet is fulfilled in the film using colour to portray the theme. When Simba returns to the Pride Lands after Scar has been in power, the entire place appears to be dead. There are no animals left, there is no water, and there is nothing but sand and rock. The appearance of Pridelands reflects the heart of Scar. Dead. This is the same as the state of Elsinore reflecting the heart of Claudius.
Claudius’s evil ways destroy the image of Denmark. Claudius is dead inside. In comparison, the theme of the “circle of life” is portrayed in the Lion King through Pride Rock, and the use of colour and imagery. The theme is developed at the very beginning, when Mufasa is ruling, and the whole Pridelands is in perfect harmony. The area of Pride Rock is always under beams of sunlight, suggesting a bright future, and harmony with the world. Each animal has its place in the “Circle of Life”. “You see, Simba. Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance… we are all connected in the great Circle of Life. Mufasa explains to Simba that everything and everyone is connected in some way or another – “When we die, we become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass”. This can be linked with the line “…you must know, your father lost a father/ That father lost, lost his…” Although in context Claudius says this in an unsympathetic and rude way, it can relate to the theme of the circle of life – as it is part of the “circle of life” for people to lose their father and so on and so forth. With all that being said, there is one vital difference between the two works, and that is The Lion King ends in triumph, with Hamlet, to the contrary – tragedy.
The circle of life is completed again when Simba returns to the Pridelands, the future looking promising and bright. As for Hamlet, considered to be the greatest tragedy ever written, the hero of the play dies. It ends in treachery. “O villainy! Ho! Let the door be locked! / Treachery, seek it out! ” Even with a different ending, there still is a resemblance: that is the future of the kingdom. Both Hamlet and Simba ensure the renewal of their domains, and they do so by assuming their lawful roles: rightful king and avenging son. By doing so, they free their kingdoms from evil’s grasp.