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Ahhhhh . . . we finally get to hear Phillipa Soo really open up and sing. What a pleasure.  And poor Eliza Schuyler Hamilton. The world would be a poorer place without the drive of people like Alexander Hamilton, but that doesn’t make them easy to live with. “He will never be satisfied” (“Satisfied”), while for her, life’s theme is “that would be enough.” Can this marriage be saved?

For example, what are we–what is Eliza–to make of his response to her pregnancy? He sounds tender, but there’s also deep ambiguity here:

Eliza: I wrote to the General a month ago
Hamilton: No

Is he saying, “You shouldn’t go writing letters to my boss pleading for family leave,” or a more loving, “Why did you tell him and not me?”

I want to poke him with a sharp stick when she says, “I knew you’d fight / Until the war was won” and he interjects “The war’s not done.” Yes, thank you, Alexander, she knows. She worries every day that a message will arrive saying that you’ve been killed. She’s so relieved that you’re home from the front, and all you can think about is that you haven’t finished the job.

Still, the bond between them is clear even just from the voices here. Eliza doesn’t keep up with the genius sparkings of his mind–unlike Angelica, who seems to match him beat for double-time beat–but she loves and appreciates it. After all, she wanted to marry him in the first place “’cause there’s nothing that [his] mind can’t do” (“Helpless”).

I don’t pretend to know
The challenges you’re facing
The worlds you keep erasing and creating in your mind
But I’m not afraid
I know who I married
So long as you come home at the end of the day
That would be enough.

This seems the moment to bring up Hamilton’s preoccupation with death, which seems to worry Eliza. I wouldn’t call him suicidal, exactly, but the casual way he regards his own life and death goes beyond a courageous willingness to die for a good cause. It’s not just “I will lay down my life if it sets us free” (“My Shot”), but “I am more than willing to die” (“Meet Me Inside,” my emphasis). He thinks about death a lot, and he has wished for its release.

When I was seventeen a hurricane destroyed my town
I didn’t drown
I couldn’t seem to die . . .
I was twelve when my mother died, she was holding me
We were sick and she was holding me
I couldn’t seem to die (“Hurricane”)

I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory (“My Shot,” “Yorktown,” “The World Was Wide Enough”)

Some of it may just be realism, the lesson learned from growing up among desperate poverty, like an inner city black boy in our America.

I never thought I’d live past twenty
Where I come from some get half as many. (“My Shot”)

And he’s decided not to settle for an attitude of “make this moment last–that’s plenty” (“My Shot”), because he’s part of a movement and its dreams are not yet realized. But he seems to flirt with death, just the same. So when Eliza begs him,

Let this moment be the first chapter:
Where you decide to stay,

I don’t think she’s just saying, “Commit to this marriage” (though it is certainly striking that a year in, she’s still having to say “Let’s begin”). She’s asking him to commit to life. She’s the one anchoring him in life, reminding him how far he’s come from that grim childhood, reminding him,

Look around, look around at how lucky we are
To be alive right now,

and all he can think is that he hasn’t done enough yet–for her, for the child he has just learned she is carrying, for the revolution. The war was supposed to give him a leg up, and it hasn’t done that yet.

Will you relish being a poor man’s wife
Unable to provide for your life?

She responds, “I relish being your wife.” He is enough for her, but–so far–she is not enough for him. At the end of the song, she is still hoping that she, they, will be. Maybe the staging tells us his response; the song does not.


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