The Lion King is a story containing many archetypes. Archetypes are patterns or models of literature that reoccur in many stories. In this paper I will discuss three of these archetypes. They are the hero, death & rebirth of the hero, and the symbolism and associations of water vs. desert. These archetypes can be noticed easily and help things come together.
The Lion King has a very evident hero, Simba. Simba meets many of the characteristics of an archetypal hero. Among these is the way that he is taken away from his home, the Pridelands, and grows up with Timon and Pumbaa. After Simba arrives with Timon and Pumbaa, we see very little of his life until he is fully grown. When the film returns to Simba, he soon decides to return to Pride Rock and face his past. He returns to save his kingdom from its desolation caused by Scar and the hyenas, and to restore it to its glory.
The hero of a story commonly goes through some of these events.
Simba faces a common archetypal situation, death and rebirth. Although Simba never physically dies, in spirit he does die. The spiritual death of Simba is when he runs away from the Pridelands into the desert. Everyone in the Pridelands thinks that he has physically died. In fact, he nearly does die in the desert. Luckily, Timon and Pumbaa find him and keep him alive. The spiritual resurrection of Simba occurs when he returns to his home at Pride Rock. Everyone discovers that Simba is alive. It seems as if he has risen from the dead to them because for such a long time they believed that he was dead. At Pride Rock, Simba returns to his previous life and faces all of his problems.
The symbolism of water and desert in the Lion King is very important. Water often accompanies a change in a story. Water can also be a sign of birth and rebirth. An example of water foretelling a change is Simba's lie when he says that he and Nala are going to the water hole. They actually visit the Elephant Graveyards. This visit causes Simba to get a view of reality, not from his sheltered world. When Simba is found by Timon and Pumbaa in the desert, they splash him with water to bring life back into him. Another example of the symbolism of water is the rain when Simba defeats Scar and assumes his position on the throne of Pride Rock. The rain symbolizes the rebirth of the Pridelands. They go from the desolation that Scar brings to the prosperity that comes with Simba. On the other hand, the desert is symbolic for spiritual defilement and desiccation. This occurs on Simba's flight from the Pridelands. He loses his spirit, and spiritually dies.
There is many cases of archetypes of characters, situations, and symbolism and associations in the Lion King. This paper discussed several of them. They included the heroic qualities of Simba, the spiritual death and rebirth of Simba, and the associations of water and the desert in the story. These archetypes are very important to the story and help give the viewer a better understanding.