The Takeaway: Hamilton

Safe to say I’d be doing the world a great injustice if I didn’t share my opinions and extensive knowledge about our most mysterious Founding Father. The dude was a legend first of all. Second of all, he is part of the inspiration behind my desire to learn and educate myself. Hamilton’s work ethic was insane. He was an underestimated genius. Third and final point: Lin Manuel Miranda made a masterpiece.

I distinctly remember watching the Broadway performance bootlegged online at the mere age of 15. I was O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D. After memorizing every word of the 2.5 hour long soundtrack, I read the book. The book by Ron Chernow.

I read all 731 pages of this book over a span of 2 years. You have to realize, 2 years is a long time for me to read a book. It’s long for anyone to read a book. Near the middle of the book I took a break because there’s so much information in it that you just can’t take it all in over a month. Ron Chernow’s book is the most of what inspired the Broadway musical. Lin Manuel Miranda read the book, felt inspired, and produced the best lyrical and musical masterpiece that I’ve ever experienced.

If I went into detail about everything in this musical, it would take all day. I have watched it 3 times since it’s release on Disney Plus and have the intention of watching it probably 863 more times before the end of the year.

When Disney Plus first came out I told everyone I was never going to get a subscription due to my already large collection of disney movies (I’d rather just watch DVDs).

But here I am, lookin a fool, now with a Disney Plus Subscription to watch one thing. (And old disney channel shows but I won’t say that publicly) ((and maybe Onward))

So let’s break this down. If you haven’t seen the musical, I will do my best not to spoil it for you. But to be honest, I think everyone kind of knows how Hamilton ends. (spoiler alert: Burr kills him. duh-duh-DUH).

  • The entire play, each solo song is there for a reason. Wait for it which Aaron Burr sings pertains to his lack of waiting when he shoots Hamilton. Helpless pertains to Eliza’s eventual “help” to spread Hamilton’s legacy (also the helplessness she feels about Hamilton’s affair). Angelica sings Satisfied which mirrors Hamilton’s lack of satisfaction in his life and always wanting more. I’m not sure if History has Its Eyes on You is actually a solo song, but it’s used in so many other scenes that it might as well be. It’s sung in the background when Hamilton is writing the Reynolds pamphlet. It’s sung multiple times near the end of the show. It’s sung when George Washington leaves office. The phrase is key to the plot.
  • There is a background dancer/actress that is literally cast as “The Bullet” who is the representation of death. If you watch closely, she follows Hamilton around. She shakes hands with John Laurens during Yorktown, and Phillip flirts with the actress on his way to confront George Eacker. Literally flirting with death.
  • The entire play, Aaron Burr is singing “Wait for it”. That’s his first solo song. That’s his philosophy the entirety of the show. Hamilton doesn’t wait. His philosophy is to “not throw away my shot”. But in the end the philosophies are switched. Hamilton does throw away his shot, and Aaron Burr doesn’t wait.
  • Eliza’s story is hands down the most intriguing to me. She forgives Hamilton for his dastardly deed and not only that, she spreads his legacy and tells the stories of soldiers that fought alongside him and established the first private orphanage in New York and literally does SO MUCH yet her husband usually gets all of the credit because he’s a Founding Father. Yikes.
  • Phillip first appears in Act 2 and is seen singing with his mother. They’re practicing counting in English and in French. When he dies he says something that most people overlook. “I’m so sorry for forgetting what you taught me.” Counting. He thought he counted wrong. He blamed himself for what happened.
  • King George, Samuel Seabury and a couple other minor characters are white and some critics of the show like to bring that up as a reason to diminish it. When Lin Manuel Miranda created the show he said “I wanted to portray America then with America now.” The white characters in the film are all members of the LGBT community and it was intentional.
  • The last song that Hamilton sings references almost every previous song.
  • The different renditions of Story of Tonight really be pulling on my heartstrings. John Laurens singing it at the end of Act 1 was never included in the soundtrack so adding that in the movie has made me cry every single time I’ve watched it. I emotionally died internally. But we all know the first rendition is the best. Can’t be matched. Minus when Hamilton references it at the end.
  • Speaking of dying internally. The entire last bit of the show is absolutely heart wrenching and LMM made Burr’s character so heartfelt and HUMAN that I can’t help but sympathize for him. Stop making me feel empathy, I’m supposed to hate Burr. He’s the enemy. And yet, he’s not and I feel like crying during his last song but it is what it is.
  • Screw it, I’m singing “Wait for it” for the rest of my life because it’s the best.
  • The last song is called “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” and I think that one is pretty self explanatory. It’s emotionally compelling to say the least.
from left to right: Leslie Odom Jr. [Aaron Burr], Phillipa Soo [Eliza Hamilton], Lin Manuel Miranda [Alexander Hamilton], Ariana DeBose [The Bullet]

I could go on. That’s just the stuff I can remember right now. But after Hamilton’s release, there came a small few voices that said “cancel Hamilton because it doesn’t accurately portray their ties to slavery” which is valid but at the same time… It’s a 2.5 hour musical on the history of Hamilton who never owned slaves, plantations, or large amounts of land. Not only that, Jefferson’s ties to slavery are brought up close to 4 times, I think?

And not to mention the Founding Fathers aren’t here to apologize for their mistakes. I had a friend tell me the other day during a discussion that “Cancel culture is the most toxic form of hatred” which is completely true. Cancel culture leads to lack of education. If I were to give a recommendation to educating yourself on the Founding Fathers and their links to slavery, read books. Ron Chernow’s books on both Hamilton and Washington are fantastic places to start.

Education is what Hamilton fought for to get off of Nevis. His skill of reading and writing and his desire to do more and be more is more than inspiring. The takeaway from this movie is more than just a history lesson tied up in a pretty package of music and comedy. It’s a desire to learn that will take us into a better future. To feed our minds and learn new things. To make a legacy for not just ourselves but for generations to come.

Just as Hamilton says in the show: “What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”

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