Archetypes In The Lion King Essay
John Berry Edwards Per. 2 4/18/96
The Lion King is a story containing many archetypes. Archetypes are
patterns or models of literature that reoccur in many stories. In this paper I
will discuss three of these archetypes. They are the hero, death & rebirth of
the hero, and the symbolism and associations of water vs. desert. These
archetypes can be noticed easily and help things come together.
The Lion King has a very evident hero, Simba. Simba meets many of the
characteristics of an archetypal hero. Among these is the way that he is taken
away from his home, the Pridelands, and grows up with Timon and Pumbaa. After
Simba arrives with Timon and Pumbaa, we see very little of his life until he is
fully grown. When the film returns to Simba, he soon decides to return to Pride
Rock and face his past. He returns to save his kingdom from its desolation
caused by Scar and the hyenas, and to restore it to its glory. The hero of a
story commonly goes through some of these events.
Simba faces a common archetypal situation, death and rebirth. Although
Simba never physically dies, in spirit he does die. The spiritual death of
Simba is when he runs away from the Pridelands into the desert. Everyone in the
Pridelands thinks that he has physically died. In fact, he nearly does die in
the desert. Luckily, Timon and Pumbaa find him and keep him alive. The
spiritual resurrection of Simba occurs when he returns to his home at Pride Rock.
Everyone discovers that Simba is alive. It seems as if he has risen from the
dead to them because for such a long time they believed that he was dead. At
Pride Rock, Simba returns to his previous life and faces all of his problems.
The symbolism of water and desert in the Lion King is very important.
Water often accompanies a change in a story. Water can also be a sign of birth
and rebirth. An example of water foretelling a change is Simba’s lie when he
says that he and Nala are going to the water hole. They actually visit the
Elephant Graveyards. This visit causes Simba to get a view of reality, not from
his sheltered world. When Simba is found by Timon and Pumbaa in the desert,
they splash him with water to bring life back into him. Another example of the
symbolism of water is the rain when Simba defeats Scar and assumes his position
on the throne of Pride Rock. The rain symbolizes the rebirth of the Pridelands.
They go from the desolation that Scar brings to the prosperity that comes with
Simba. On the other hand, the desert is symbolic for spiritual defilement and
desiccation. This occurs on Simba’s flight from the Pridelands. He loses his
spirit, and spiritually dies.
There is many cases of archetypes of characters, situations, and
symbolism and associations in the Lion King. This paper discussed several of
them. They included the heroic qualities of Simba, the spiritual death and
rebirth of Simba, and the associations of water and the desert in the story.
These archetypes are very important to the story and help give the viewer a
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