Or – how to be the Lion King, the Top Gun, or the rightful ruler of Denmark.
The animated classic, The Lion King, the Reagan-era air force blockbuster, Top Gun, and the essential Shakespearean tragedy, Hamlet, are all about the same thing: how do you make atonement for the absence of your father?
It’s a strange theme. Yet it is an idea so ubiquitous – from the Bible, to the Odyssey and the Aeneid, to the TV show Lost – that clearly it carries some residual vitality which requires our attention.
Why do so many of our most popular works of art have to do with losing one’s father and attempting thereafter to come to terms with his spirit?
Whenever something keeps coming up in story and myth, my literary instincts tell me that the idea is probably too primal or too close to our own experience to be expressed in any other way. So perhaps the best way of understanding this strange notion of wrestling with your father’s ghost is to look at the stories themselves. Continue reading