HamilTALONS Song Study

 

The Hamilton song I focused on was “Satisfied”.

 

a. Character Development

 

The song “Satisfied” focuses on developing the characters Angelica Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton, rather than progressing the story-line. The song begins at Eliza and Alexander’s wedding, with Angelica giving a toast. As she gives them her prayers, she suddenly recalls a painful memory. We rewind time and are taken back to the time of this memory, the night at the winter ball where she meets Hamilton for the first time.

“The conversation lasted two minutes, maybe three minutes,” and already, Angelica fell head over heels for Alexander (Hamilton). She describes him as handsome, intelligent, and confident. It is clear that she likes him, and by how heavily Alexander flirts with her, she can tell that he likes her back.

But soon, Angelica is faced with a conflict. Her sister, Eliza, also falls for him. She openly explains her wants in the song “Helpless”, as she talks about how helpless she becomes around Hamilton. Angelica only has two available options: keep Hamilton for herself, or let Eliza have him. She thinks of “three fundamental truths at the exact same time,” to help her come up with a decision (Hamilton).

The first ‘truth’ she realizes is that it is her duty to marry a rich man to maintain family wealth. She cannot marry Hamilton because he is dirt poor. The second truth she considers, is that Hamilton only wants to marry a Schuyler sister for their old money. This makes him the same as any other ‘solider boy’ who came to the ball. They all want to win her appraise, because she belongs to one of the most wealthy families in America. She knows that Hamilton really only likes her because of her money, and their relationship would not be genuine if they got married. The last truth she realizes is that, by marrying Hamilton, she would break her sister’s heart. Angelica claims that “[she knows her] sister like [she knows her] own mind”, and that if she and Alexander dated, “[Eliza would] be silently resigned,” and “she would say, ‘I’m fine'” but ultimately “she’d be lying” (Hamilton). One of Angelica’s biggest fears is hurting her sister. Angelica loves her so much, and you can tell through-out the songs as she always says “from your sister, who is always by your side” (Hamilton). Ultimately, breaking her sister’s heart was the biggest factor that contributed to her decision to let Eliza have Hamilton.

In the end, Eliza and Hamilton end up falling in love and marrying. With Eliza and Hamilton together, Angelica thinks about what could have happened if she chose to marry Alexander. But even with her regretful thoughts, Angelica buries her feelings and focuses on Eliza’s happiness. She knows that if the situation was the opposite and Hamilton married her, Eliza would bury her feelings so that Angelica could be happy. As a caring older sister, Angelica wants the best for Eliza so she forces herself to deal with the pain. This ultimately shows how strong relationship Eliza and Angelica’s relationship is. They would do anything for each other.

The song “Satisfied” tends to repeat some of it’s lyrics. For example, during the beginning of the song, Angelica repeats the phrase “I remember that night, I just might” four times. Although this may seem like ‘lazy’ songwriting to some eyes, Shakespeare expert Cass Morris argues that it develops Angelica’s character. According to Cass Morris,

“[Angelica’s] brilliant, but with an intense urgency — her mind fires at a million miles an hour, and her speech patterns show it…
So what you get is this bobbing effect, in and out of reality, in and out of memory, in and out of what was and what could have been. But it still ties up and ties together in the progression…of the kinds of repetition from beginning to middle to end, because Angelica ultimately has that kind of grip on herself. Her mind may race, but she has control of it.”

Angelica also raps in “Satisfied”. No other female characters in the whole Hamilton playlist raps. A character who raps as fast as Angelica is Alexander. This may represent that he and Angelica are ‘on the same level’, in terms of wit and intelligence.

This song displays Angelica’s wit many times through-out the song. Unlike most people, who pursued love blindly, Angelica considered the consequences, and the feelings of other people. Ultimately, this led her to make what she thought was the best decision. Before making an important decision she would consider her wants and fears, and decide what values were most important to her. This is actually really impressive, because if you compare her mindset to other characters, you can see that she is intelligent. She is unlike Hamilton, who thinks very irrationally and impulsively, and she is unlike Burr, who has a paranoid fear of consequences.

Another witty characteristic Angelica holds is the ability to point out the flaws of others, specifically Alexander’s. As seen through-out the Hamilton playlist, most other characters only notices Alexander’s good qualities. Angelica looks at his good qualities, but also considers his flaws as well. She can see his arrogance as he says “there’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait, just you wait…” (Hamilton). By his fidgeting reaction to her asking about his family, she can already tell he is penniless. Even without meeting each other for long, she sees he has “peach fuzz, and he can’t even grow it!” (Hamilton). She makes fun of his beard when most other characters would not.

But she doesn’t just see the bad side of him, she can also see the good qualities in him and his potential. She knows that “he’s a bit of a flirt, but [she’ll] give it a chance” because she believes that, behind the smooth talker and the confident attitude, he can be genuine (Hamilton).

When Angelica and Alexander first meet, Alexander hits her with the “you’re like me, I’m never satisfied” (Hamilton). By saying that he’s never satisfied, Hamilton basically admits that he is always unsatisfied with his position in life and that he will never be. He won’t stop and settle, he will keep going to obtain more power and acceptance. Even though she knows that Eliza will be happy if she gets to be with Alexander, she is scared for Eliza. In the song, Angelica claims that “You will never find anyone as trusting or as kind” as Eliza. She knows that Eliza would be the perfect and loyal wife, and she’s scared that if Alexander ends up being unsatisfied with Eliza, he would somehow find a way to break her sister’s heart. If he can’t settle with the perfect wife, then who’s good enough to satisfy Alexander? No one. He can never be satisfied.

At the end of the song, the flashback ends and we are taken back to the wedding day, with a repeat of Angelica toasting to the groom and the bride. This time, we can tell that there is more meaning and pain behind her words. A specific line she says is “may you always, be satisfied” (Hamilton). Perhaps, since she knows that Hamilton can never be satisfied, this line is like a subtle plead to Hamilton to be satisfied with Eliza, so there is no way Eliza’s heart can be broken. This comes back to the point that Angelica really loves her sister and fears Alexander breaking Eliza’s heart.

 

 

b. Connections to Historical Elements

 

1. Siege of Charleston

John Laurens, one of Hamilton’s friends, is present at the start of the song and speaks for a short time. Historically this is incorrect, because Laurens was not at the wedding. Britain captured him during the seige of Charleston in December 1780, the same time of the wedding. The siege of Charleston was a major win for the British, a battle that was fought between March 29 to May 12. Lauren was a prisoner of war who was shipped to Philadelphia, where he was told that he wasn’t allowed to leave Pennsylvania.

 

2. Big Idea

Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies.

The difference in power between Hamilton and Angelica alters their relationship in a negative way. Because of her father and family-line, Angelica possessed a lot of old money. Hamilton, on the other hand, was “penniless, [and] flying by the seat of his pants” (Hamilton). According to Chernow, an America writer,

“Starting with that first winter in Morristown, Hamilton was drawn almost magnetically to… Angelica, and spent the rest of his life beguiled by both Eliza and Angelica, calling them “my dear brunettes.”… The attraction between Hamilton and Angelica was so potent and obvious that many people assumed they were lovers. At the very least, theirs was a friendship of unusual ardor, and it seems plausible that Hamilton would have proposed to Angelica, not Eliza, if the older sister had been eligible.”

In the song, “when [Hamilton] said ‘Hi,’ [Angelica] forgot [her] dang name” (Hamilton). At first glance, the line “I forgot my dang name” seems like she was struck by love and forgot who she was in the excitement (Hamilton). But a possible meaning could be that she forgot her family name, Schuyler, and her duties in her family. She forgot about all the responsibilities  that came with coming from a rich family like the Schuylers, and she forgot that she needed to marry a rich man. But once Angelica regains herself and asks him “Where’s your family from?”, he nervously switches the subject which shows Angelica that he is poor and doesn’t want to talk about this.

It’s possible that Angelica let Eliza have Hamilton because she knew that Hamilton only wanted to marry a Schuyler sister for the money. Eliza, on the other hand, would be more willing to let this slip. If Hamilton was a person with more wealth, this conflict would not be happening. This shows that, even though anyone can be happy as a couple, society shaped people to sacrifice their happiness and relationships.

 

c. Guided Question

 

Guided Question: In what ways did the American Revolution affect the lives and privileges of those involved?

 

[ANGELICA]

I’m a girl in a world in which

My only job is to marry rich

In the story, Angelica is portrayed as a single woman, who has no brother. In reality, she married John Barker Church in 1777, years before she met Alexander Hamilton. This shows us that Angelica Schuyler represents the wealthy women living in America. This story also tells us the experiences and lives that the women of America have. It expresses the values women hold in society. Although some women are really smart and talented, “[they’re girls] in a world in which [their] only job is to marry rich” (Hamilton)Their only purpose in life was to be a wife, daughter, and mother. They never had opportunities to pursue like men had.

 

[BURR]

A winter’s ball

And the Schuyler sisters are the envy of all

Yo, if you can marry a sister, you’re rich, son

[HAMILTON]

Is it a question of if, Burr, or which one?

To provide futher evidence that women are considered pawns to getting more money, we will look at the Hamilton song “Winter Ball.” When Burr says that “if you can marry a sister, you’re rich, son” (Hamilton). In a sense, Alexander and Burr represent the men of America, and the Schuyler sisters represent the women of America. The men only see the women as trophies with a money benefit. They shoot for the ladies with wealth.

Alexander then replies to Burr by saying “Is it a question of if, Burr, or which one?” (Hamilton). In the story, all three Schuyler sisters are availbile for courting. In real history, Angelica eloped with her husband John Church and the only two sisters available to court are Eliza and Peggy.

 

[ANGELICA]

And the hope that you provide

(You provide!)

{(You provide!)}

When Angelica is toasting to Eliza and Alexander during their wedding day, she says “and the hope that you provide” (Hamilton). In a way, she is saying that Eliza and Hamilton’s relationship provides hope to the young soldiers who wish to marry a wealthy woman to become rich.

 

[SPOILER] In the end, it is not Angelica or Alexander who ends up unsatisfied, but Eliza. Once Alexander marries Eliza, he continues to pursue his own desires and satisfactions. In this pursue, he forgets about Eliza and her needs as a wife. This represents some of the relationships between wealthy wives and ambitious husbands. The men only want to marry the women for their wealth, but the women misread it as love. Then, once married, the men strive to achieve greater things, leaving their wives behind in the process. This shows the inequality between men and women and how women in the higher class are only pawns to get wealth.

 

SUMMARY

Although the song “Satisfied” did not advance the story line, it developed Angelica, Eliza and Hamilton’s characters. The three main characters also represent certain groups who lived in America. Angelica and Eliza represents the upper class women with wealth, who are used by the men as pawns to obtain old money. Hamilton represented those abusive men. At first glance, the song “Satisfied” may seem like a simple love story, but overall, there are many hidden layers to the song that add meaning and depth. The song can be interpreted in many ways.

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