Hero’s Journey: The Lion King

DEPARTURE

A)     The Call to Adventure: After Simba runs away because he thinks he is responsible for his father’s death, he meets Timon and Pumba who he lives with until he is older. Then one day, Nala hunts Pumba and Simba fights her off. After they realize who the other person is, Nala tells Simba that he must come back. She says he has to come back because everybody thinks he is dead, and that he needs to take his rightful spot as king. Also, Scar has taken over Pride Rock and Simba would be their only hope to restore peace in their land.

B)      Refusal of the Call: After Nala tries to convince Simba to return, he doesn’t want to go back. He still thinks that he is responsible for his father’s death. Not to mention, Simba is embarrassed that he ran away and doesn’t want to return and face his friends, mother, and his past.

C)      Supernatural Aid: Rafiki the baboon has Simba look at his reflection. At first he only sees himself but then realizes he has his father within him. Rafiki then has Mufasa appear to Simba in the sky. Mufasa says that Simba is not living up to who he is supposed to be causing Simba to realize that he must take responsibility for what has happened and that he must go save Pride Rock from further disaster. He decides to stop running from his past and that he must return to Pride Rock.

D)     Crossing the First Threshold: Simba decides to leave paradise with Timon and Pumba and return to Pride Rock. Simba realizes he must take responsibility for his kingdom and he must be ready to fight his uncle and the hyenas in order to save his kingdom. It is not easy, but eventually he heads for Pride Rock.

E)      The Belly of the Whale: As Simba leaves paradise as makes his journey to Pride Rock, he realizes that he is also leaving behind his childhood there. In doing so, he is ready to accept his rightful stop as king and is ready to finally take responsibility for his kingdom.

INITIATION

A)     The Road of Trials: When standing on the rock overlooking Pride Rock, Simba realizes that he’s going to have to fight his Uncle Scar and the Hyenas for the land. Although he does not want to fight his uncle, he knows that he must. Nala, Timon, and Pumba also help.

B)      The Meeting with the Goddess: While standing on the rock, Simba not only realizes his love for Nala, but also becomes one with him. He becomes whole in his love for Nala, and also in his love and acceptance of himself.

C)      Atonement with the Father: After Scar makes Simba tell everyone he is responsible for his father’s death, he backs Simba up to the edge of Pride Rock. Then, lightening causes a fire beneath the rock and Simba slips off the back, hanging onto the edge like his father did just before he died. Then Scar reveals that he killed Mufasa, not Simba. Simba now lets his old self go, and steps into his new self by being the responsible and reliable king he was always meant to be.

D)      Apotheosis: It then becomes known to Simba that he has no reason to hold onto the burden of his father’s death. Simba now becomes one with himself and realizes he must fight not only for his right to be king, but also for his father. Simba then pounces on Scar to get off the ledge. Simba then finds Scar running away and chases after him. They then battle against each other and the hyenas kill him for calling them the enemy. In doing so, Scar is defeated and Simba shows that he is serving as a true leader to his kingdom.

E)      The Ultimate Boon: When the hyenas finish off Scar, Simba takes his rightful spot as King of Pride Rock. He walks through the rain to hear his father speak to him and Simba then becomes the true king.

RETURN

A)     Refusal of the Call: Simba does not refuse his call to be King because he knows he must take responsibility for his Kingdom.

B)      The Magic Flight: When in Pride Rock, Mufasa shows his acceptance and blessing that Simba has done the right thing by taking his place as king. Although Simba was hurt by Scar emotionally because he thought he killed his father, when Mufasa speaks to him through the clouds, Simba becomes one with himself, letting out a huge roar.

D)     Crossing the Return Threshold: Using the knowledge he has gained from his life, Simba rebuilds Pride Rock after Scar nearly destroyed it. He now serves as a good king for his kingdom. Simba is at peace with both himself, and his kingdom. By accepting himself as king, he has taken the accountability that he will protect his land and his people, and has recognized the world he know lives in and himself.

E)      Freedom to Live: Simba and Nala get married, and have a cub of their own. As Simba looks at his family, he lets go of the anger brought on by his father’s death and anticipates his new life.

The Lion King follows the hero’s journey almost exactly. Although we had to get far in the movie for the call to adventure to spark the beginning of the hero’s journey, it certainly did. In using the hero’s journey, The Lion King follows Simba as he loses his father, runs away, and returns home to claim his rightful spot as king. A main theme in the hero’s myth though is how the main character overcomes their past to become a greater individual, just as Simba did when he became king. Although this allows the character to grow, it does cause many limitations and restraints. One of these limits being that it does not allow the movie to stray from the pattern, making the stories’ ending quite predictable. By simply knowing the pattern of the hero’s journey, you are not only able to track what happens, but you are also able to predict what happens. Also, it does not allow any major twists or turns in the movie that could ultimately completely change the main character. For instance, to make the Lion King better, a major twist could be placed somewhere that could completely alter how things occur in the movie. Say Simba ended up falling in love with another lioness as well as Nala. This not only would cause a fight between the two lionesses but also would cause another battle within Simba causing him to debate his true feelings and also his values. As it is depicted, the hero’s journey does not allow much leverage when it comes to creativity in the story line, restraining from any major twists in the plot, but it does allow the main character to change and morph into who they were meant to be.

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