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Many literary works can be compared due to vast amounts of similarities between theme and characters; Hamlet and the Lion King are two literary works in which character and theme are surprisingly similar throughout each work. The Lion King is thought to be just an animated children’s film, however, it is in fact a modern translation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The main characters in the Lion King are definite parallels to those in Hamlet. Along with the main characters and plot details, the stories were similar in the representation of the secondary characters. Here’s my little secret, I killed Mufasa. ”
The theme in Hamlet can be compared to the Walt Disney movie The Lion King. Hamlet and Simba are betrayed by their uncles whom murder their fathers in order to fulfill their own ambitions. The characters in the Lion King closely parallel Hamlet. Simba, the main character in the Lion King, embodies Hamlet. They are both the son of the King and rightful heir to the throne. The King of the Pridelands, Mufasa, can be compared to Hamlet Senior, who is killed by the uncle figure. Both Scar and Claudius have an unpleasant image of the uncle.
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.
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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.
Author: Brandon Johnson
Hamlet in Comparison to the Lion King
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The Theme of Madness Characterized by Ophelia and Hamlet in Hamlet by William Shakespeare
- Length: 1154 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)
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The Theme of Madness Characterized by Ophelia and Hamlet in Hamlet by William Shakespeare
In Hamlet, Shakespeare incorporates a theme of madness with two characters: one truly mad, and one only acting mad to serve a motive. The madness of Hamlet is frequently disputed. This paper argues that the contrapuntal character in the play, namely Ophelia, acts as a balancing argument to Hamlet's madness or sanity. Ophelia's breakdown and Hamlet's "north-north-west" brand of insanity argue for Hamlet having a method to his seeming insanity.
The play offers a character on each side of sanity. While Shakespeare does not directly put Ophelia's insanity, or breakdown, against Hamlet's own madness, there is indeed a clear definitiveness in Ophelia's condition and a clear uncertainty in Hamlet's madness. Obviously, Hamlet's character offers more evidence, while Ophelia's breakdown is quick, but more conclusive in its precision.
Shakespeare offers clear evidence pointing to Hamlet's sanity beginning with the first scene of the play. Hamlet begins with guards whose main importance in the play is to give credibility to the ghost. If Hamlet were to see his father's ghost in private, the argument for his madness would greatly improve. Yet, not one, but three men together witness the ghost before even thinking to notify Hamlet. As Hamlet says, "O that this too too sullied flesh would melt…" we can see that he is depressed and appalled, but it does not mean he is insane. As Horatio says, being the only one of the guards to play a significant role in the rest of the play, "Before my God, I might not this believe/ Without the sensible and true avouch/ Of mine own eyes." Horatio, who appears frequently throughout the play, acts as an unquestionably sane alibi to Hamlet again when framing the King with his reaction to the play.
That Hamlet speaks to the ghost alone detracts somewhat from its credibility, but all the men were witness to the ghost demanding they speak alone. Horatio offers an insightful warning, "What if it tempts you toward the flood, my lord, Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff That beetles o'er his base into the sea, And there assume some other horrible form. Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason, And draw you into madness? Think of it." Horatio's comment may be where Hamlet gets the idea to use a plea of insanity to work out his plan.
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The important fact is that the ghost does not change form, but rather remains as the King and speaks to Hamlet rationally. There is also good reason for the ghost not to want the guards to know what he tells Hamlet, as the play could not proceed as it does if the guards were to hear what Hamlet did. It is the ghost of Hamlet's father who tells him, "but how so ever thou pursues this act,/ Taint not thy mind." Later, when Hamlet sees the ghost again in his mother's room, her amazement at his madness is quite convincing. Yet, one must take into consideration the careful planning of the ghost's credibility earlier in the play.
After his first meeting with the ghost, Hamlet greets his friends cheerfully and acts as if the news is good rather than the devastation it really is. This is the first glimpse of Hamlet's ability and inclination to manipulate his behavior to achieve effect. Clearly Hamlet is not feeling cheerful at this moment, but if he lets the guards know the severity of the news, they might suspect its nature. Another instance of Hamlet's behavior manipulation is his meeting with Ophelia while his uncle and Polonious are hiding behind a curtain. Hamlet's affection for Ophelia has already been established, and his complete rejection of her and what has transpired between them is clearly a hoax. Hamlet somehow suspects the eavesdroppers, just as he guesses that Guildenstern and Rosencrantz are sent by the King and Queen to question him and investigate the cause of his supposed madness.
Hamlet's actions in the play, after meeting the ghost, lead everyone except Horatio to believe he is crazy. Yet, that madness is continuously checked by an ever-present consciousness of action that never lets him lose control. For example, Hamlet questions his conduct in his soliloquy, but after careful consideration decides to go with his instinct and prove to himself without a doubt the King's guilt before proceeding rashly. Even after the King's guilt is proven with Horatio as a witness, Hamlet again reflects and uses his better judgement in the soliloquy before seeing his mother. He recognizes his passionate feelings, but tells himself to "speak daggers to her, but use none," as his father's ghost instructed. Again, when in the King's chambers, Hamlet could perform the murder, but decides not to in his better judgement to ensure that the King doesn't go to heaven by dying while praying.
As Hamlet tells Guildenstern, "I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw." This statement reveals out-right Hamlet's attempt to fool people with his odd behavior. This is after Polonious' enlightened comment earlier in the same scene, "though this be madness, yet there is method in't."
Compare the copious evidence against Hamlet's madness with the complete lack of evidence for Ophelia's sanity after her father's murder. Her unquestionable insanity puts Hamlet's very questionable madness in a more favorable light. She is quite obviously mad, and, unlike Hamlet, there seems to be no method to her madness. All Ophelia can do after learning of her father's death is sing. Indeed, Hamlet's utter rejection of her combined with this is too much for her, and she doesn't sing a mourning song at the beginning, but rather a happy love song. Ophelia's breakdown into madness and inability to deal with her father's death and Hamlet's rejection is dealt with neatly and punctually. There is little evidence against her madness, compared to Hamlet's intelligent plotting and use of witnesses to his actions. Thus, by defining true madness in Ophelia, Shakespeare subtracts from the plausibility of Hamlet's supposed insanity.
In the play, Shakespeare uses the dimmer light of reality to expose the brighter light of contrivance. Hamlet is dynamic, animated, and absurd in his madness, making Ophelia's true madness seem realistic rather than absurd. Hamlet explicitly states the contrivance of his madness, while Ophelia does not. To prove more of Hamlet's sanity, he questions his actions. "To be or not to be" proves that Hamlet still thinks before he performs his actions. Further, Hamlet has a motive behind leading others to believe that he is insane. Although Hamlet is under severe pressure and emotional strain due to the high situation in the play, he shows a remarkable amount of intelligent, conscious, and rational decision-making in efforts to resolve his situation. Thus we can see that Hamlet is not insane, but actually does have a method and can make intelligent decisions.