Lion King (Summary Essay)

“Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures from the crawling to the leaping antelope”- Mufasa, The Lion King

Life as itself is much of a continuous and repetitive cycle. It is a constant struggle between contrasts to fully achieve the wholeness of cosmic harmony. Life’s constant loop of death and rebirth is the heart of everyday living, an inescapable pattern that ensures the balance of things. This idea is vividly present in Disney’s animated masterpiece, Lion King. Following the life and journey of Simba, the sole and destined heir of Pride Rock’s king, Mufasa, to the understanding of life and his identity, the film tried to define life as a circle: eternal.

The film opens with the view of the sunrise in the bountiful lands of Pride rock as the whole community of animals, filled with excitement and joy, gathered to witness the ceremonial presentation of their King’s son, Simba. The scene highlights good Old Rafiki, along with Mufasa and his wife Sarabi, proudly holding out the newborn Simba for the whole Pride Rock to see. As the sun touches the face of Simba, the crowd cheered– sharing the joy and pride of their king and queen. The celebration would’ve been perfect if not for the absence of Scar, Mufasa’s brother. While everybody in the kingdom is excited about the arrival of the heir, Scar can’t help but seethe with jealousy and anger. Scar would’ve been next in line but the opportunity had been snatched from him by Mufasa’s little fur ball, Simba. Scar’s absence in the ceremony led to his and Mufasa’s argument that eventually ended up with Scar threatening Mufasa.

Years passed and Simba grew into a young energetic cub– full of curiosity and thirst for adventure. Despite his carefree nature, he knows his responsibilities. Mufasa never failed to remind him of his future and the responsibilities that go along with it; he, as a loving father and a good king, educates Simba on the ways of a leader. In one of their many conversations, while touring the lands of Pride Rock, Mufasa explained the circle of life. He explained how everything works and exist together to achieve perfect harmony. He tried to make Simba understand the cycle of life and death and how it maintains the balance of it. Simba being youthful was not able to fully understand the lesson of his father.

Simba, along with his friend Nala, loves to explore the lands of his kingdom; however, his father greatly opposes to him going beyond their land. This leaves Simba confused and wondering. Scar uses Simba’s innate curiosity and pride to lure him into danger. Beyond the lands of Mufasa is the barren place of the hyena’s, the dangerous enemies of the lions. Scar “accidentally” shares the kingdom that beyond the Pride rock, making it appear like a mysterious elephant graveyard where only the bravest and strongest animals go. Being young and proud, Simba decided to venture to the foreign land to prove his courage and strength. Along with his best pal Nala and the king’s right hand Sazu, they set to look for the mysterious land. Upon stepping on the hyena’s lair, Simba soon finds himself and his friends at the mercy of the beasts. Good thing, Mufasa arrived on time to save their necks from brutal deaths. Mufasa then lectured Simba about courage and proceeded on reminding him about his future ascension to the throne; how his, Mufasa’s, reign would set as the new king’s, Simba’s reign rises. Sadly, Mufasa’s reign is nearly setting

Angered by his foiled plan and fueled by his greed for power, Scar decided to get rid of Mufasa and Simba for good. He teamed up with the outcast-ed hyenas by promising them an endless supply of meal once they secure his throne. The plan is to lure Simba to the gorge to get killed by the stampede of the wild beast. He, then, will call for Mufasa and leave him to die while saving his son. The plan was successfully set into motion. Mufasa went to the gorge to save his son and had victoriously set Simba away from danger. However, he was left at the edge of the cliff holding for his dear life and left at the mercy of his brother. Mufasa called for Scar’s help only to see himself being thrown to his death by his own brother; thus, Mufasa’s reign ended.

Fatherless and drowning in grief, Simba was made to believe that he is the reason for Mufasa’s death. Scar advised him to exile himself to escape the anger of the kingdom and as a form of repentance for his sin. Simba, with a heavy heart, decided to leave Pride Rock. As he walks away, he suddenly saw himself being chased by hyenas set by his uncle to kill him. He escaped but was left to die of hunger and thirst in the desert. Scar then returns to Pride Rock to announce the death of Mufasa and Simba, and claim the throne as his.

Meanwhile, Simba was found and saved by Timon, a meerkat, and Pumbaa warthog. The duo took the poor cub under their wing and taught him how to live a carefree life. Years passed and Simba had grown into a strong and carefree lion. Despite having a life of adventure and fun, Simba is still bothered by his father’s death. He was trying to completely forget about his past, but then, he unexpectedly met Nala again.

After many years, Nala was still able to recognize her pal. She tries to reconnect with Simba and eventually falls madly in love with him. In one of their conversations, she shares what happened after Scar ascended the throne. She described how the hyenas overtook the Pride Rock, and how their once bountiful land became barren and gloomy. She pleaded for Simba to return home, as he is the only hope of saving their crumbling kingdom. Simba, much to her disappointment, continuously denies her request.

Simba, still grieving and blaming himself for his father’s death, continuously tried to deflect his call of duty. He believes that he failed his father and has no right to the throne. He would’ve stuck to his belief if not for Rafiki. Rafiki, the mystic priest of their kingdom, put him into his senses as he made him realize the values that he tried to forget. Rafiki helped him understand that his father’s demise doesn’t mean the end of a legacy but a continuation as his father lives through him. With this, Simba decided that it is time for him to confront his past, and save the land that he loves.

Upon his return, Simba saw the kingdom nearly in ashes. The land dry and reeking of death and loneliness. As he takes in what was left of Pride Rock, he saw his mother, Sarabi, being abused by Scar.With that, he revealed himself and indicated his intent to reclaim his rights to the kingdom. Everybody was surprised to know that he is alive and relieved that a last, the rightful heir has come to save the land. However, Scar tried to turn everyone against him by making him admit that he is the reason for his father’s death. Being innocent of the devious plan of Scar, he, again, takes the blame. Their argument eventually ensued into a fight that ended with Scar admitting his crime and being killed by the Hyenae. With Simba’s return, peace and balance were restored in the kingdom. The film ends with an exact replica to its beginning– only this time it is Simba who is presenting his cub to the kingdom.

The adventure of Simba represents the endless turn of the wheel of life. It presents the concepts of life and death, and how each is necessary to achieve the balance in nature. End marks beginning just like how beginnings mark ending. Simba’s birth signifies beginnings, and the same goes for Mufasa’s death. The Lion King makes people realize that life is but a circle.


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  • The Lion King. Dir. Rob Minkoff, Roger Allers. Perf. James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Walt Disney Pictures, 1994. DVD.
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