sábado, 15 de febrero de 2014

The Lion King: Shakespeare vs Disney

With a moral base unlike most of the movies released at the time, The Lion King placed a children's facade on a very serious story of responsibility and revenge. The work that Disney's TLK parallels is none other than Hamlet, and the film shadows this work so closely, that parallels between the main characters themselves are wildly apparent.

In The Lion King, the role of the young prince whose father is murdered is played by a cub named Simba, whose naivete procures him more than his fair share of hardships and troubles. By the acts in the story alone, one can see that Simba is a direct representation of Shakespeare's Hamlet Jr., but not only that, each of them shares similar actions in the play. Interpretations if Simba's actions are as profound as Hamlet's, particularly of why Hamlet delayed in exacting vengeance for his father's death. Each of them runs from their responsibility, although inside themselves they know what must be done: Hamlet attempts to validate his suspicions while Simba hides from his past. 

Similarly, the characters of Hamlet Sr. and Mufasa bear a striking resemblance to one another, not only in their actions, but their meanings as well. Hamlet Sr., the once king of Denmark, ruled his kingdom in peace and prosperity, evident in the conversations in Act I, Scene I between Marcellus and Horatio about the creations of implements of war in Denmark under the new king, Claudius. Mufasa, too, ruled peacefully over the Pride Lands, only worrying about his son and his responsibilities. But, after their deaths, they each become more than the kings they once were. They become the heralds for thir sons, compelling them to avenge their deaths and take responsibility for what their uncles have done. Each deceased king approaches his son in the same way: via an apparition that gives a direct, if not opaque, monologue driving their princes to action, and each ghost leaves the interpretation of their messages open to their sons. Neither Hamlet Sr. or Mufasa tell their respective sons directly to destroy their murderers, although Hamlet Sr. does name the perpetrator directly, it is Hamlet that decides that action must be taken. It is this direct allusion of one major character with an integral part in advancing the work to another that helps solidify Shakespeare's influence as a writer of great literature.

But it isn't just the protagonists that allude to one another; the villians in both The Lion King and Hamlet can be directly and similarly compared to one another. Both Scar, from TLK and Claudius, from Hamlet, are brothers of the king, murder their sibling to ursurp the throne. It is not so much the characterizations of the characters in this instance than the actions that provide proof of how Shakespearean literature invokes writers today. Claudius, at first, appears satisfied by his deeds, enjoying the life of a king. Scar revels in his ill-gotten spoils as well, allowing his hyenas to hunt the Pride Lands to practical defoliation while he reclines in the pride's cave. Scar, like Claudius, grossly exploits his new-found power and drives his kingdom into war.

With the major characters in both works aside, the similarties between secondary characters in The Lion King and Hamlet are still quite striking. The insight of one work in another is so deep that The Lion King goes as far to allude Hamlet's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with Timon and Pumbaa. A comparison here, if not the greatest comparison, is the fact that both pairs of characters in both works are provided as relief from the main focus of the stories. Timon and Pumbaa provide a welcome resort from his responisbilities and hauntings of his past by introducing him to the carefree life of "Hakuna Matata", while Rosencrantz and Guildenstern allow the audience to know that Prince Hamlet does enjoy a life outside of the royal house, mingling with fellow scholars-to-be and friends. However, Hamlet's friends are charged by his nemesis, Claudius, to bring Hamlet before the King on numerous occasions. There is no direct evidence that Timon and Pumbaa are in the employment of Scar, nevertheless, the sidekick pair in TLK provide a very similar function, whether they realize it or not. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are a constant reminder to Hamlet about the revenge that must be exacted upon Claudius by being messengers to the mournful prince whenever Claudius needs them to be.

Another secondary character to the protagonist and antagonist are the respeactive queens of each work, Sarabi from The Lion King and Gertrude from Hamlet: Prince of Denmark. Each of them are nearly complete mirror images of one another, each having the same place in the social hierarchy, equal amounts of power over their kingdoms, and emotional ties to the main protagonists of the stories. Sarabi is the Queen of Pride Rock, leader of the lionesses since the reign of King Mufasa. Although she is not the reason Scar usurped the throne from his brother, it is a near certainty that she has stayed on as Queen because she is quite adept at her duties. Gertrude, likewise, is adept at her duties as well, although they take on a quite different task than Sarabi. She is mainly for show, for Claudius to own and adorn with his newly gotten wealth. Both Sarabi and Gertrude are Queens, but both show little or now power over their subjects. Sarabi is nearly killed by Scar when she dares to question one of his decisions, which shows the place of the lionesses in the pride: pawns in Scar's quest for power. Any deviation from being simple huntresses results in pain, and perhaps death at the paws of Scar and his multitude of hyenas. Gertrude, too, never appears to order anyone, although she certainly has the capacity to do so. She, instead plays the weakened queen, doing as her husband bids her and plaintively bending to Claudius's will.

Although much of modern entertainment may look like new entertainment on the surface, if we probe deeply enough, we can find connections to some of the greatest literature of all time. Shakespeare is probably one of the most influential writers of all time, if not all time, and his greatest works, not limited to Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, are the basis of many stories written today. His plays are continuously redone and reperformed, his sonnets quoted in many a song and story, his histories the basis of many school lessons, and his influences are more than profound in many cases, and in the case of The Lion King, those influences are the basis of the story, not only of the main protagonist and antagonist, but of secondary characters as well. Modern entertainment may have lost much of its roots, but comparisons such as these may well prove the old axiom: "There is no new literature being written, only old literature, redone."

Check: http://www.lionking.org/text/Hamlet-TM.html

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