Hamilton, the hip-hop rap musical, has revolutionized theater. It’s the story of an immigrant, “young, scrappy, and hungry,” who kicked off the Revolutionary War and built the central government of today. Within this book appears the musical’s backstory with many deeper insights. How do the Schuyler Sisters’ signature colors reveal their personalities? Which stage equipment best amplifies the themes? What of the words like “Satisfied” and “My Shot,” with so many double and triple meanings? Most importantly, we’ll explore how the show hauntingly echoes today’s political climate and hottest issues. As the musical extends a mirror of vibrant, diverse, passionate America, it captivates all who discover it.
The English Teacher’s Guide to the Hamilton Musical: Symbols, Allegory, Metafiction, and Clever Language
The high school or college English class offers a long list of technical terms: Symbolism, Irony, Metafiction, Allegory, Metaphor… With such a barrage, it can be tough to sort them all out. Yet here’s the list, from Absurdity to Zeugma, all defined through the clever wordplay of Hamilton. In fact, musicals use all the rhythm and rhyme patterns of history’s top poets, and the literary skill of crafting characters and straddling genre. Further, the rap battles reveal a list of logical fallacies and top argumentation strategies that could empower lawyers or speech writers at the level of this famed Founding Father. Going deeper, the book lists the themes, motifs, allusions, and so on of the show, revealing sneaky foreshadowing and subtle symbols. For die-hard fans of the show, or those mastering rhetorical terms, logic, and the power of words, it’s a delightful geek guide.
One of the most striking elements of the Hamilton musical is its women—feisty Angelica, loving Eliza, alluring Maria…and Peggy. However, with limited time, the show has little chance to delve into the women’s most fascinating elements. Angelica ran off with British scoundrel and double agent John Church, while Peggy scandalously wed her astoundingly wealthy teen cousin. Eliza was inducted into the Iroquois as a child, and spent her widowhood not only sparring with presidents but journeying to the West at age eighty. Burr educated his daughter Theodosia to equal any man, before her tragically mysterious end, while her mother’s tangle with Mrs. Benedict Arnold changed history. Maria’s story, too, may be far more complex than Hamilton claimed. Beside these irrepressible characters are the many other founding mothers—Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and all the others who, however lightly touched upon, transformed the Revolution and the young nation forever.