In both Hamlet and The Lion King, there are many similarities. The fact is, The Lion King is actually based off of the play Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare. Even though there is over a 500 year time difference between these two plays, not much has changed aside from the characters names and the occasional cinematic scene to put the viewers on the edge of their seats.
In the Beginning of both stories, the protagonist’s father is killed, mysteriously. In Hamlet, The protagonist is Hamlet, while in The Lion King, the protagonist is Simba. Hamlet’s father is just referred to as Old Hamlet, and Simba’s father is Mufasa. Another similarity between these two works is that both main characters come from a very high class family, in fact, both families are noble. The main antagonists in these stories are Scar, in The Lion King, and Claudius, in Hamlet. Both are the uncles of the protagonists and at the same time, are the killers of their fathers. However, these main characters are unaware of this problem.
These villains are, in fact, very similar. Both Claudius and Scar are very blood and power thirsty, and will put down anyone or thing that gets in there way, yet secretly. As seen in both stories, the uncles also fail once in trying to kill their brother but succeed the second time. Both of these men are also very sneaky when they want something. They will put on a fake, family friendly face in order to get what they want from family members or friends that they do not like.
Even the evil henchmen in these tales are similar. Barochio and Conrad, Claudius’ henchmen, are comparable to Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, Scars hyenas. Near the end of both plots, the henchmen find out that they are being used, and are unpleased. Barochio calls out Claudius for the things that he did, and the hyenas kill Scar.
Since The Lion King is based off of Hamlet, and Hamlet is a tragedy, many people die. The death of the villains is very ironic. They both die the way they killed someone. More specifically, Scar kills Mufasa by pushing him off a cliff into a stampede; he then later dies from the hyenas pushing him off a cliff. At the same time, Claudius kills Old Hamlet by poisoning him in the ear, and he later dies from drinking the same poison.
With all these similarities, it is hard to deny the fact that there are some differences. Being that The Lion King is made by Disney, and is meant to be a children’s movie, the writers could not throw in all the death that occurred in Hamlet. As was said earlier, Hamlet is a tragedy, and in tragedies, multiple people die. In Hamlet, nine people die. However, in The Lion King, only a few people died, Mufasa and Scar being the main deaths. Another difference is that the two main female characters in The Lion King and Hamlet. Nala, the main female in The Lion King is very outgoing and disobedient. This seems to be a negative characteristic, however, it helps her when she needs to disobey someone to save Simba’s life. Ophelia, the main female character in Hamlet, is seen as the opposite. She is very obedient. She does what her elders tell her to do, and even avoids her love, Hamlet, because her father told her to.
Even with these differences, the two stories are still incredibly alike. This was done on purpose; but through this modern interpretation of Hamlet, people can understand the characters easier, the text easier, and also the relations between the characters easier. Overall, Hamlet and The Lion King are the most similar two stories out of the list of modern interpretations.