The Lion King 4

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The Lion King

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Plot Summary for The Lion King

The Lion King is a story about the coming of age of Simba, a young lion, as he overcomes the death of his father and ousting from his pride which rules the Pride Land, a kingdom of animals in Africa. Simba ultimately regains his rightful place as king of the pride, and in doing so, restores the kingdom’s natural order, referred to in the animals’ shared vocabulary as the “circle of life.” The movie begins in the Pride Lands, an area in, Africa ruled by a pride of lions. Its leader, King Mufasa, who rules benevolently from his home, Pride Rock, attends the presentation of his newborn son, Simba, to the assembly of animals that make up the kingdom.

The Lion King

His advisor and shaman, a baboon named Rafiki, hoists young Simba into the air atop a rocky pinnacle, and the animals cheer. Mufasa waves his hand across the land, explaining that Simba will be responsible for it once he becomes king. He also explains the “circle of life,” the sacred relationship between birth and death that connects all living creatures. As Simba comes of age, Mufasa’s younger brother, Scar, seeks to usurp the throne. Scar plans to kill Mufasa and Simba. He lures Simba and his best friend and future wife and queen of the pride, the young lioness Nala, to explore a dangerous elephant graveyard. There, a trio of spotted hyenas loyal to Scar ambushes them. Mufasa, learning about the ambush from his messenger hornbill Zazu, rushes to rescue the cubs. Though Mufasa is angry with Simba, he forgives him, taking him to a field and explaining that the kings of the past watch from the stars, just as he will one day watch over the prides of Africa.

After his failed attempt to kill Simba, Scar lures him and Mufasa into a ravine where his hyenas cause a stampede of wildebeest, hoping to have them trampled. Scar lures Simba first and then, notifies Mufasa of Simba’s danger. Mufasa rushes to save Simba again but is left hanging on the edge of the ravine. Scar approaches and, instead of saving him, throws him into the ravine, where he dies. Scar convinces Simba that Mufasa’s death was his own fault, telling him to leave the kingdom. After Simba flees with the hyenas in pursuit, Scar tells the rest of the pride that the wildebeest killed both Mufasa and his son, Simba. He becomes the new king, allowing his previously excommunicated hyenas and their pack to come live in the Pride Lands.

Simba, exhausted in the desert, is rescued by a meerkat and a warthog, Timon and Pumbaa. He grows up with them in the jungle, learning to create a carefree life and adopting a new motto, “Hakuna Matata,” meaning “no worries.” One day, a hungry lioness comes to hunt Timon and Pumbaa. Simba intercepts her, discovering that she is Nala. They fall back in love and Nala tells him to come home, conveying that the Pride Lands have fallen into drought and despair. Simba refuses and runs away, unwilling to cope with returning to the site of his father’s death. He finds Rafiki, who says that Mufasa is still alive in Simba. Mufasa’s spirit appears in the stars, telling Simba that he must live on as king. Simba is convinced to return home. Simba covertly returns to Pride Rock, confronting Scar. Scar tries to exploit Simba’s insecurity about his role in Mufasa’s death, backing him to the edge of Pride Rock. There, he reveals that he killed Mufasa. Overcome with anger, Simba throws himself onto Scar, pinning him down. He forces Scar to announce the truth to the pride. His friends Timon and Pumbaa, along with Rafiki, Zazu, and the lionesses, fight off the hyenas while Scar tries to escape. Simba corners him, and Scar begs for mercy, offering to betray his hyenas. Simba agrees on the condition that Scar is banished from the Pride Lands. Scar tries to attack again, and Simba throws him from the rock. He survives the fall but is killed by the hyenas who overheard his betrayal. Rain begins to fall as Simba regains the kingship, and life comes back to the Pride Lands. The book concludes as Rafiki holds up Simba and Nala’s new cub to the assembly of animals, repeating the circle of life.

A classic coming of age story, The Lion King incorporates the symbolism of the animal kingdom and its natural hierarchical structure to present the struggle of its protagonist as a return to his inherited home, family, and throne.

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