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The Lion King

Circle of Life (concept)

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This article is about the life concept of "Circle of Life".
You may be looking for the film song, the Elton John song, the Circle of Stars song, or the short film.


Mufasa: 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 ant to the leaping antelope.
Simba: But, Dad, don't we eat the antelope?
Mufasa: Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.
Mufasa and Simba


The Circle of Life (also known as the Great Circle of Life) is an ideology that is held by many creatures of the Pride Lands, among them the royal-blooded rulers of Pride Rock.

Information

The Lion King

You must take your place in the Circle of Life.
—Mufasa to Simba

The Circle of Life is first mentioned in the opening sequence of the film, during which the concept is introduced as an integral part of the Pride Lands. It is again mentioned by Mufasa when he is teaching his son how to make a good king. In order to help the Pride Lands thrive, a lion must follow the principles of the Circle of Life, respecting all the creatures so that nature can follow its natural course.

Lk screengrab 117

Mufasa teaches Simba about the Circle of Life

Scar abandons this principle when he leaves the Pride Lands to the hyenas' mercy. As a consequence, the land undergoes a harsh drought and famine, leaving the Pridelanders practically abandoned in a graveyard. Following this harsh turn of events, Mufasa appears as a ghost before his son, reminding Simba that he must take his place in the Circle of Life in order to restore his homeland. Following his father's orders, Simba returns home and defeats Scar, thus restoring the Pride Lands to their former glory and completing the Circle of Life.

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride

Simba: If something happened to you, I don't know what I'd do. One day, I won't be here...and I need you to carry on in my place. You are part of the great Circle of-
Kiara: Circle of Life. I know.
—Simba and Kiara


In the sequel, Kiara receives the same lesson from her father that Simba received in the first film. She, however, does not show as much interest in becoming a good monarch as her father did. It is hinted that Simba often recounts this lesson to his daughter in order to better guide her in the ways of a queen.

The Lion King 1½

An echo of the original "Circle of Life" can be heard when Timon and Pumbaa approach Pride Rock.

Trivia

  • Mufasa's speech to Simba calls to mind a quotation from Act. IV, Scene III of Hamlet in which Hamlet says "Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat us and we fat ourselves for maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar are but variable service, two dishes, but to one table: that's the end [...] A man may wish with a worm that hath eat of a king and cat of the fish that hath fed of that worm." The Lion King is partly based on Hamlet so this is probably deliberate.

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