Home > Multimedia Essays > Walt Disney Immortalizes the Bard

Walt Disney Immortalizes the Bard

by: Narisma, Dyan Kara I.

BA English Studies: Language

University of the Philippines – Diliman

Disclaimer: All videos/pictures used are not mine and belong to their respective owner.

Entry #1: Multimedia Essay

I was lurking around the web looking for something worthy of the immortal Bard, and to me as well, as a mother of a two-year old toddler. Apparently there are Disney writers who delight in using one or two Shakespeare references in adding vigor into their films. Consequently, I chanced upon many of Shakespearean plays allusions in the world of Disney movies.

So, maybe if I feed my daughter with more Disney movie time, she could possibly ace her Shakespeare classes then. Here are few of Disney movies that celebrate the Bard of Avon:



The Genie


Jafar and Iago

The primary character that we can easily link to Shakespeare is Iago— Iago in Alladin taken from Iago in Othello. “I love the way your little mind works,” says the antagonist Jafar to the secondary antagonist, Iago. “Conscience? I’ve never had one!” says Iago the in that Disney film. How antagonistic is that?

Moreover, a certain scenario from the film makes another reference to Shakespeare, this time from The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. So, Aladdin blurts his first wish to become a prince. And the Genie reads through a magical spell book, he says “Caesar salad” then pops an arm-draped in a toga holding a dagger comes out attempting to stab him.  Then the Genie responds with a familiar line “Et tu Brute,” the same line from the terminal Julius Caesar to Brutus in Act III Scene I.



This sequel in 1998 took Shakespearean references where Shakespeare himself appeared in a cameo role. He is seen singing ‘What a Day in London’ with the people in town.

In this photo he is holding a skull (he is a gravedigger in this movie) as he sings, “What is to be or not to be” and went on writing next–probably writing Hamlet.

Another crude reference with a twist in this film’s storyline is that married Pocahontas, now known as Rebecca Rolfe in this movie, landed in England in June 1616. William Shakespeare died in April 1616.



So, this is interesting, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” Disney film is contextualized in the 15th century setting. Yes, way before our Bard even came to life. See how Disney writers love Shakespeare? Anyway, this film is as dark as Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. We know that the Merchant of Venice tells so much about racism – Christians VS Jews. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” makes another reference from that theme – Frollo VS the Gypsies.

There’s an line referenced from Merchant of Venice’s Act III Scene I: “If you pick us do we not bleed If you ickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?” says Shylock. The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s take, “Yet, if you kick us, do we not flake? If you moisten us, do we not grow moss?” says Victor from one of the gargoyles to Quasimodo in convincing him to attend the festival.

Walt Disney writers are so fond of immortalizing Shakespearean. The whole team’s a fan of the Bard, ei. They can’t resist adding references from the Bard’s works. Guess one can’t fully be called a writer without acknowledging Shakespeare.


Works Cited:

“William Shakespeare (The Bard of Avon).” Disney.wikia.com. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.

Categories: Multimedia Essays
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