The Signifigance of Gender in "Hamilton: An American Musical"

The Signifigance of Gender in "Hamilton: An American Musical"

Who lives, who dies, who tells their story?
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We all know it's all about the A-l-e-x-a-n-d-e-r (we are meant to be...).
Alexander Hamilton the main character of the musical and his feats are the primary focus and advancing his career is his singular objective throughout the musical. Obviously it's more than simply being an ambitious workaholic or embodying similar modern traits; Alexander has an overwhelming desire to prove himself. The gift and curse of his talent and ambition that allow him to do just that and face the fallout are depicted alongside his personal relationships with friends, coworkers, love interests, and family.
There's no question of the love that's portrayed in the story no matter where it comes from. Alexander and Eliza loved each other, there was familial love between he and Peggy...a bit more than familial love and affection between he and Alexander. Martha and George loved each other, and Aaron Burr loved his Theodosia. However the way these situations of love are shown and the position of women -- especially the Schuyler sisters -- in colonial 18th century society as portrayed in "Hamilton" are very interesting and lend to the story greatly past simply telling the story of a nation and one of its greatest leaders/founding fathers.
Angelicaaa, Eliiza...and Peggy! The Schuyler sisters are the daughters of Senator Schuyler who just happen to be staying in the city because of the war. They're beautiful with great minds and are from a higher class than Burr and Hamilton. This is acknowledged in their song "The Schuyler Sisters" and in the song "Satisfied" . This comes up in the "The Schuyler Sisters" when Burr says "Excuse me miss I know it's not funny but you perfume smells like your daddy's got money. Why you slummin' in the city in your fancy heels you searchin' for an urchin who can give you ideals?"
Burr not only uses a stereotype to introduce himself to Angelica --She's a rich girl who likes bad boys and bad things like poor people. Only hanging out in a less high end part of Manhattan for fun and exoticism. -- He also insinuates that she would only be "slumming it" with people like him in this area to find someone "who can give her ideals". This not only assumes that she would be looking in the community of students in town for not only "a mind at work" but ideas that she doesn't already have herself; ones that she would inquire from Burr a man who is allowed and expected to attend school --university or otherwise-- instead of staying home and raising kids and the like.




I believe this does not read too much into anything and is quite poignant/ironic to start off a song not only about the revolution but Angelica Schuyler taking her feminist ideals into a new nation. In her conversation with Burr she goes on to reference "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine (following that with the fact that men are put off by her intelligence calling her "intense" and "insane", the intimidating and unnecessary nature of a smart and passionate woman as well as the stereotype of women being automatically crazy simply for stating their ideals or existing. There's so much history here I'm surprised Lin didn't sneak more in and have her say "hysterical" somehow instead of insane. ) and "The Declaration of Independence" the words of the latter which wasn't written yet at the time. Her words are "We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal--and when I meet Thomas Jefferson I'm 'a compel him to include women in the sequel!"


However, as far as we know and were shown in the musical Angelica didn't meet the future Secretary of State and women had to write their own sequel in the form of "The Declaration of Sentiments" a century later; holding the truth to be self evident that all men and women are created equal. Here all of the grievances that men in American society have committed against women --that are also true in the time Angelica Schuyler-- are listed the same way that those of King George were in The Declaration of Independence. Women were self-aware about their situation and sought action. It isn't that Angelica --or her sister-- aren't feminists because they didn't seem to fight for womens' rights the way women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and more did decades; they weren't the focus of the work enough for that to be the case --neither was feminism-- and Angelica was a lot like Abigail Adams in that she implored men to "remember the ladies."
In "Satisfied" Angelica is relaying the realizations she experienced that led her to redirect Alexander to her sister Eliza at the winter's ball --who seemed to be "Helpless"ly smitten with him by the look in her eyes--. Angelica asked Alexander where his family was from and assumed that he was mainly interested in her to further his position. Whether or not that was true she was correct in accordance with the times that someone would have wanted to marry her for that reason and that as the oldest daughter of a sonless father it's her responsibility to marry and not for love but for status and money. Of course it's the assumption in our time that that's the way most if not all marriages proceeded then and it doesn't necessarily mean that she or any other woman wouldn't love their husband or couldn't.


Angelica in "Satisfied" does embody a bit of the self-awareness that later womens' rights activists had in that she knows her position in life in society. However the idea is that there is nothing she can do. She states: "I'm a girl in a world in which my only job is to marry rich my father has no sons so I'm the one who has to social climb for one. So I'm the oldest and the wittiest in New York City is insidious and Alexander is penniless ha! That doesn't mean I want him any less". Angelica tasks herself with being smart and pretty because she has to land a rich husband to carry on her father's legacy and support herself. She goes on into class and position more as a reason she senses for it to be ill-advised for her as the heir to pursue him: "He's after me 'cause I'm a Schuyler sister that elevates his status, I'd have to be naïve to set that aside maybe that is why .I introduce him to Eliza now that's his bride. Nice going Angelica, he was right. You will never be satisfied". Angelica elevates herself up naturally; growing up as a Schuyler sister she's used to the idea that she would grow up and find a rich man to sustain her and her legacy. Thus this naturally makes her feel even more above someone like Alexander without knowing it.


Angelica's third fundamental truth is that she knows that her kind sister would say nothing if she told her how she felt about Alexander and accept it even if she was actually lying when she said that she was okay. Angelica says this while having this flashback at Eliza and Alexander's wedding and her sister whom she described as the most trusting and kind person you would ever find; her sister Elizabeth who in "Helpless" said that she told Angelica that she was interested in Alexander before Angelica sauntered over to him and began conversation-- then for some reason Eliza's helpless eyes were a big surprise-- and Angelica acts as if she's performing the hugest sacrifice giving her sister a husband in Alexander.
Although in this society one can't blame her since a husband is the greatest gift a woman could have--next to a baby, of course. Also one that Eliza Schuyler Hamilton was legitimately scared she wouldn't receive in "Helpless" when Alexander had to get her father's blessing. Then Angelica just goes on congratulating them as Alexander's "sister" now and great friend. The smart one instead of simply the wife.


In "A Winter's Ball" misogyny is rampant --it's featured in a lot of songs where it's only the guys Alexander, John Laurens, Lafayette, Hercules Mulligan, and Aaron Burr-- with the Burr declaring that there are a lot of things that Alexander has going for him but the thing that they have in common is their reliability with the --ladies! With the rest of the guys joining in to rejoice the amount ripe for the picking. Oh yeah, the guys are definitely out for blood: "There are so many to deflower!" . A woman at this time would be labelled a whore --This is exactly what James Reynolds calls Mariah his wife while addressing Alexander in a letter not mentioning love or trust broken. His property was used and that was the wrong committed. -- for being with a lot of men sexually/romantically and being famous for that -- "Martha Washington named her feral tom cat after him" -- and then there's Alexander Hamilton (and the men that respected/applauded him for it). Burr brings Angelica's fears to light and states that marrying a Schuyler sister --any sister apparently-- leads straight to wealth and to this Alexander replies: "Is it a question of if, Burr, or which one?" The sense of entitlement to each other --also the opposite sex for Hamilton, Burr, and cohorts-- is clear between Angelica and Alexander.
In "The Story of Tonight (reprise)" misogynistic stereotypes of the ball and chain --Eliza controlling Alexander and never allowing freedom again even though in this time the complete opposite would be and was true; Eliza being the one who has little to no freedom-- are about and Burr's romantic interest is revealed. Theodosia is the wife of a British officer and Aaron Burr her saving grace in a time where she's alone while her husband is at war. Hamilton says go after who you love even if she's married. Burr has no guarantee that they'll ever get to be together and yet he's there.


--Alexander is confused as to why he doesn't simply "get her" and Burr has the mentality that he has to wait for what's meant to come of their love--.
This is romantic but also shows the womens' roles in the time as less permanent and consequential.
Angelica marries to someone rich who will take care of her for the rest of her days --the hope and purpose of women then-- . Angelica did not marry for money and her husband is tolerable at best: "He is not a lot of fun, but there's no one who can match you for turn of phrase. My Alexander" . (Notice: her Alexander...not Eliza's or just plain Alexander. ) This is how Angelica describes it in "Nonstop" in which Eliza wonders if she could have a fraction of his time. This is in relation to career and relationship but it's a theme all though out the play. She asks this of him here because he's busy writing the United States Constitution and advocating for it. She pleaded with him the same way when he was away at war and she was pregnant and alone. She asks of him merely to have some time spent with his family but you know Alexander. He can't miss his shot.



This leads to Angelica's dearest Alexander being alone in the capital and falling in with Mariah Reynolds. He fell in alright, but not in love. Alexander still reserved that for his Eliza --at least--. Mrs. Mariah Reynolds described Alexander as a "man of honor" and claimed that her husband was beating her, mistreating her, and then abandoned her. As we know having a husband was the way women primarily survived in this time so the supposed abandoning especially would have put Mrs. Reynolds in the role of a damsel in distress. That along with her sultry demeanor, the way she catered to Alexander's ego, and maybe even the way she spread her legs and begged him to stay....that would be more so the reason Alexander fell for it.
It is a popular trope that men are suckers for women who need the taking care of that their society begets --especially if they need it desperately-- so the way and reason that he succumbed to her enticing isn't surprising. In the song "Say No To This" Alexander implores God to "show him how to say no to this...." because he doesn't know how and she looks so helpless "and her body's saying, hell yes" .
Alexander doesn't know how to simply say no and walk away from a situation that clearly shows him cheating on his wife. The way that Mariah is depicted one could easily forget that she even has a husband and that she isn't a literal whore --the definition being one who is paid for sex-- who was down financially. One could chalk it up to being an impossible to foresee situation and Alexander being "too kind sir" that would have been potentially forgivable in Eliza's eyes if he hadn't continued to see her and if this one night that he couldn't say no to didn't turn into an all our affair.
The affair only came to light because Mr. James Reynolds somehow found out and only wanted money from Alexander. He called his wife a whore instead of being mad at Alexander for sleeping with her; he condemns her instead of feeling betrayed because their marriage too was not one of love.



Alexander did not love Mariah Reynolds. She must have developed feelings for him beyond lust because she was broken up about him leaving her on her own. He was disillusioned with the damsel role she embodied when she no longer was convenient for him --and yet she was more a damsel now than ever. If her husband was beating and mistreating her before he probably would have then--.


Alexander Hamilton and James Reynolds had one important thing in common; when it comes to their wives and their love lives they only cared about their reputations. Hamilton publishing the Reynolds Pamphlet after Jefferson threatened a false political scandal --He was "clearing his name" -- and Mr. Reynolds telling Alexander that "he made the wrong sucker a cuckhold!" --a word for a man whose wife was unfaithful--. To James Reynolds his reputation mattered not the fact that his wife betrayed him or that she was unhappy enough to do so, and for Alexander Hamilton his reputation --which was tied to his career-- mattered a whole lot more than how his wife --his Eliza-- would feel not only about the affair but also about the fact that he was publishing the story and the proof for all to see --before she had any knowledge of it--.
In "Burn" Eliza Schuyler Hamilton writes herself out of the narrative. History does not get to see how she reacted. Alexander's words made her fall in love with him and he used them to destroy that love. He brought Mariah Reynolds into their marriage bed with no regard for her as another living person who would care. She didn't once come to mind between his letters between he and his mistress and yet he called himself her husband. Eliza burns her treasured love letters between she and Alexander and says all he has now are the memories of when he was hers...forfeiting his right to their bed and their love. --This is done because history truly doesn't know what Eliza Hamilton's reaction to the affair was. It wasn't recorded anyway--
This is Alexander's fall from grace. Angelica describes him as "an Icarus who flew too close to the sun" and Jefferson and others jeered "you're never gonna be president now".
Again, I repeat that this does not mean there wasn't love between Eliza and Alexander. Legitimate love that proved the necessity and beauty of their marriage --never minding the affair or his feelings for his dearest, Angelica-- . This is why Eliza wrote herself back into the narrative in "It's Quiet Uptown" . An older Eliza and Alexander are drawn back into each other's arms and company by the loss of their son Philip in a duel defending his father's honor. It's in bad taste to call it hubris but not entirely as it does have accuracy.
The company minus Alexander and Eliza sing the profound words that define the situation. Sheer unimaginable forgiveness and loss.
All they have is each other now and the town watching her by his side--until the very end. Alexander suffers the same fate as his son --dies defending the honor of Alexander Hamilton-- and before passing laments for Eliza saying that he'll see her on the other side in "The World Was Wide Enough" . Eliza is left behind to carry on his legacy the one he started and fought so hard for she is the one that makes sure the Washington monument is built and she tells Alexander's story.
"Hamilton: An American Musical" does so much for history. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius and besides instilling feelings of inspiration and joy in viewers and listeners among various other profound emotions he gives the women agency! Do you hear about Eliza Hamilton in your history books? What about Angelica? No? Maybe one mention of Abigail Adams' "Remember the ladies"? Yeah, same here. This story is so amazing. It tells the truth and it tells each and every story. Everyone's history is significant and so many women's tales and thoughts were swept under the rug because they couldn't read and write or simply because their story was not important enough. The "best of wives and women" 's story was told and Alexander Hamilton's was because of her. This offers a great lesson in feminism and appreciation to us all as well as the rest of the play-- not sugarcoating the truth.






Cover Image Credit: twitter.com

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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

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The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

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The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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