The Lion King is one of the most famous Disney animated feature of all time. It has captured the hearts of children and adults everywhere around the world and has made over Three Hundred and twelve million dollars. But The Lion king is much more than a movie that has made a lot of money, it actually is the story of a hero's quest or journey. The hero's journey is reflected everywhere, from a television show to great works of literature, and even movies (Harris 1). A Hero's journey consists of separation, transformation and initiation, and the return of what a hero experienced throughout his / her journey. The story of The Lion King shows how the protagonist Simba follows the Hero's Journey.
The beginning of a Hero's journey starts with the Call to Adventure. "The hero is called to adventure by some external event or messenger. The hero may accept the call willingly or reluctantly" (The Hero's Journey 2). The call could be an actual telephone call informing the hero of what he must do or it could be a call in a psychological way. In The Lion King the protagonist, Simba is a very curious lion who wants to know what is beyond Pride Rock. He even takes his best friend and future guide, Nala with him to a graveyard where he is not allowed to see what is there.
His father discovers him and tells him not to go looking for trouble because it can be very dangerous (The Lion King). Simba's call is then completed when Scar, his uncle, and the hyenas force him to leave Pride Rock from the death of Mufasa, his father. Simba is thought to have killed his father from Scar, and is haunted by it for a great deal of his life. Once the hero is called to adventure, he must pass over the Threshold. The threshold is the boundary between the known and the unknown. It is the "jumping off point" for the adventure.
In the hero's known world he feels secure about his area but once he is passed that area, he is faced with many challenges. When the hero crosses the threshold there is usually someone or something blocking them or trying to keep them from crossing over (Harris 3). When Simba crosses the threshold the hyenas try and block him from passing on. They chase him into an elephant graveyard and try to kill him as one of their objectives from Scar.
This is one of the challenges Simba goes through upon crossing the threshold. Simba completes the challenge by not being killed by the hyenas and crosses from the Pride Rock, the world as he knows it, on to the unknown world beyond Pride Rock. Once the hero is past the threshold, the hero begins the journey into the unknown. The voyage can lead outward into a physical unknown or inward to a psychological unknown within the hero. He also faces a series of challenges but they are relatively easy compared to the challenges ahead. Often the hero encounters helpers that will guide him throughout the journey and the challenges that face him.
When the hero passes these challenges he builds maturity, skill and confidence (Harris 4). Once Simba has passed the threshold a. k. a. the elephant graveyard, he begins the journey into the unknown. He travels a great deal of a distance into a desert area where his challenge is to survive the desert. He lies down on the ground when a meerkat and a warthog named Timon and Pumbaa discover him. These two play Simba's guides and help him survive his challenge from the desert. They take him in as one of their friends and tell him when you are depressed just look to the saying "A kuna Ma tata" which means when bad things happen you can't do anything about them so why be responsible for them (The Lion King).
Simba now adapts to that saying and learns to live like them and eat their type of food. He tries to forget everything that has happened in the past with his father but he is still haunted by the thought that he killed him. The next part in the Hero's Journey is the Abyss. When the hero reaches the Abyss, it is the greatest challenge of the journey. The hero must surrender themselves completely to the adventure and become one with it. The hero must face his greatest fear and face it alone because the guides can only go so far (Harris 4).
In Simba's case the abyss occurs when Nala returns and tell him that Pride Rock is in ruins because Scar has eaten all of the food and all of the land has turned to darkness and rain. Nala tells Simba that he must go back and reclaim the throne but he is too afraid of what would happen and his haunted by his past. The ultimate challenge of Simba's journey is to overcome his fear and return to Pride Rock to face Scar. Rafiki, a baboon who tries to keep the "circle of life" together tries to help Simba realize that it is his destiny to return to Pride Rock. He is also one of Simba's guides in his journey. Rafiki shows Simba to a creek with his reflection in it and part of the reflection shows Mufasa and then Simba".
You see he lives in you" (Rafiki, The Lion King). Simba runs away out into a field and his father forms in the clouds and says, "Simba you have forgotten me. You have forgotten who you are and therefore me. You must take your place in the circle of life. Remember who you are" (The Lion King). Simba is then ready to face his fear and return to Pride Rock from the help of his father and Rafiki.
He then surrenders himself fully to the journey and goes to face Scar in the final battle. As the hero conquers the abyss, the transformation process is complete. The final step is a moment of death and rebirth. Fear must die so courage can take its place.
Dependency and irresponsibility must die so that independence and power can grow (Harris 4). When Simba returns to Pride Rock and faces Scar, this is his transformation. He has realized that he never killed his father but it was actually Scar. He allowed his fear and irresponsibility to die so courage and independence could grow. Simba is now ready to face Scar and avenge his father's death with a little help from Nala, Timon, and Pumbaa in the beginning but when it comes down to Scar Simba must face him alone without any help. In the end Simba defeats Scar and he is killed by the hyenas because Scar blamed everything on them.
Once the transformation process has occurred in the journey, next comes the time to achieve the atonement. The hero is fully "reborn" again and in a spiritual sense, the transformation has brought the hero into harmony with life and the world (Harris 5). After defeating Scar, Simba achieves his Atonement by becoming one with himself and is then reborn again into the King he was always meant to be. He is now ready to become king of Pride Rock and a hero. The final stage in the Hero's Journey is the Return. During the Return the hero goes back to his homeland and everything changes back to the way it was before.
The hero is reborn again, is now happy with himself and is now a stronger, more mature person. Simba is reborn again as a new Lion King, Pride Rock is turned back to the beautiful place it was, and Simba, Nala, his guides, and his new son are standing on Pride Rock to complete the "Circle of Life" and the Return. You have now just read the process of the Hero's journey and how the story of The Lion King isn't just a movie about a Lion, it actually shows how Simba, a curious Lion transformed into a Hero thus fulfilling the Hero's Quest.