Comparing the Lion King to Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth and the Epic Hero

Submitted by: Submitted by

Views: 934

Words: 1324

Pages: 6

Category: Literature

Date Submitted: 11/18/2012 08:29 PM

Report This Essay

“You Can’t Change the Past”: Comparing The Lion King to

Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth and the Epic Hero

Have you ever wondered why every story has a happy ending? Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces examines the existence of a basic pattern known as the hero’s journey that has been repeated in narratives since story telling began thousands of years ago. Campbell theorizes that all stories essentially have the same plot, the “monomyth”, being retold, recycled with different details, but keeping the same general stock characters and plots, called archetypes. Arguably, the most common monomyth is the epic hero, as it is easy to recognize. The Lion King is a prime example of Campbell’s ideas about the monomyth because Simba, the protagonist of the film, goes on an adventure – the hero’s journey – during which he goes through the cycle of a monomyth: the call, the threshold, the abyss, the atonement, the test, and the return.

The first of these six “steps” to an epic journey, the call, can be found in the beginning of The Lion King. In the beginning of the film, Simba, the protagonist, is born to the king and queen of Pride Rock, Mufasa and Sarabi. Because he is the son of the king, he is royalty and is expected to assume the throne when Mufasa dies. It is made known to the audience that Scar, Mufasa’s evil brother and the antagonist of the film, is actively planning to take over the animal kingdom. Scar’s desire to be king indirectly starts Simba’s epic journey when this desire fuels Scar to murder the current king, Mufasa. Scar then convinces Simba that he is the one who caused his father’s death. The overwhelming guilt, as well as pressure from Scar, causes Simba to run away from his home at Pride Rock because he is too afraid to face the pride knowing he caused his father’s death. The act of running away is Simba’s call to action, the first step in the cycle of a monomyth.

After Simba’s call to action, he finds himself at the threshold of the...