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Sigmund Freud titled the Oedipus complex after a man named Oedipus who accidentally kills his father and marries his mother. Once Oedipus realizes what he has done, he pokes his eyes out and becomes blind. Similar to Oedipus, the concept claims that young boys feel sexually attracted to their mother’s and feel hatred and jealousy towards their father. These negative feelings are due to their need to possess their mother exclusively, without having to share that love. No matter how the boy feels though, society views incest as an appalling attribute, and therefore boys must learn to suppress their lewd attraction.
A child’s love for his mother is never seen as unconventional, however, Simba’s infatuation for his mother seems considerably incestuous. A subtle evidence of Simba’s tainted affection can be detected in the waterhole scene, where Simba’s desire to be king is boldly displayed through his song “I just can’t wait to be king”. His wish may appear to be an innocent one until further analysis, one begins to see the hidden malevolent behind this yearning. The desire present within Simba can only be fulfilled as soon as the current king, his father, has either stepped down willingly or is no longer breathing. Furthermore, Simba’s excitement to become king only emerges once his father had mentioned that everything Mufasa currently owns within Pride Rock, including his mother, would one day be his. Simba’s obsession to become king is his way of expressing his wish of replacing his father.
Another indication of his inappropriate fondness can be seen when Simba and Nala escape towards what they believed was an elephant graveyard. Simba’s persistence to visit the elephant graveyard, after being told not to by both his father and Zazu, is perceived as his attempt to compete with his father and show his bravery; perhaps in the pursuit of his mother’s love. However, this desire of his is crushed as Simba is unable to protect himself or his friends from the hyenas’ without the help of Mufasa. The following scene emphasizes Simba placing his tiny paw upon his father’s larger paw print. This image presented in front of the cub coerces him to understand that Mufasa is notably bigger and stronger than him. This realization not only deflates Simba’s ego but forces the cub to make an important decision- to challenge his father or to become alike with him.
As the old adage goes “if you can’t beat them, join them”, Simba begins the process of identification by mimicking the attributes of his father. Eventually, Simba impersonates his father so well that when he returns to Pride Rock in the last few scenes to reclaim his kingdom, his mother mistakes Simba for Mufasa.
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