Women’s roles in “Hamilton”

Throughout the play, Hamilton, women hold a very strong role in the musical. The most powerful roles from the women in Hamilton are played by the Schuyler sisters who are introduced in Act I of the play during the song, “The Schuyler Sisters.” During this song, Alexander Hamilton meets the sisters; Angelica, Elizabeth, and Peggy. Angelica is the oldest sister who when first see Hamilton falls in love with him but knows she will be forced to marry someone rich. Next, is Elizabeth, she is introduced to Hamilton during a ball where the song “Helpless” is then sung by Eliza and Hamilton. Then, in the second act during the song, “Say No To This,” a new woman is introduced into the play. Maria Reynolds who has been mistreated by her husband and is encouraged to have an affair with Hamilton. These songs represent the role of the women in Hamilton and have strong refrains, motifs, and rhythm.

First, in “The Schuyler Sisters,” when Burr is introducing the Schuyler sisters there is a specific meter that goes along with the words he is saying. For example, at the opening of the song, there is an intense bass sound, which happens at the beginning of every line Burr says except for the beginning of the third line. Instead of the bass sound is at the start of the line it’s at the end of the line after Burr says, “The man is loaded”. This change of meter is to signify and intensify that line to make it known the Schuyler sister’s family has money. Next, after being introduced to Angelica one of her main lines in “The Schuyler sisters” helps define her role as an intelligent free-thinking woman of the new world. “You want a revolution? I want a revelation. So listen to my declaration. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. And when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I’m going to compel him to put women in the sequel.” This is a very strong and powerful message that Angelica was speaking to Burr to prove to him women are not going to stand to be pushed around by men any longer. The rhythm of the song is also a very fast pace which shows the intensity and power the women’s roles will play.

Next, in the song, “Helpless” Eliza and Hamilton get formally introduced by Angelica and eventually get married. The feelings and emotions of This song is very opposite than the previous song Eliza was in, “The Skylar Sisters”. In that song, the girls are represented as powerful and in charge, whereas in this song, Eliza has been taken over by Hamilton and is “helpless”. Listeners can hear the influence Hamilton has on Eliza, since in the first song she sang with much power, whereas in this song she is singing much softer along with the rhythm of the song. The refrain in this song includes the repeating line by Eliza “I do” since these are the beginning lyrics it’s already foreshadowed the marriage of Elizabeth and Hamilton which happens at the end of the song.

Lastly, another woman is introduced into the play in the second act, Maria Reynolds. Maria Reynolds came into Hamilton’s life saying her husband had abused her and abandoned her and she was lost on what to do. Hamilton had an affair with Maria for a month before Maria’s husband writes Hamilton a letter making him pay for Maria’s services or he’d tell Eliza about the affair. This is another example of how poorly women were treated at that time. Women were being abused and abounded just to have their husband come back into their lives to make a profit off them. In the song “Say No To This”, Maria refers to being “helpless” since her husband has abandoned her. This also can relate back to how Eliza felt “helpless” with Hamilton, however, Eliza is helplessly in love whereas Maria is just helpless from abonnement. Hamilton having an affair with Maria was one of the first known political scandals in America. “Over the course of that year, while the affair took place, James Reynolds was well aware of his wife’s unfaithfulness. He continually supported their relationship to regularly gain blackmail money from Hamilton” (Alexander Hamilton). James Reynolds was using Maria and Hamilton for profit.

In conclusion, in the musical production play, Hamilton the female characters play a large role in the plot. In the song “The Schuyler Sisters” Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy all showed what it meant to be empowered women of the new world with their lyrics. Next, the romance of Eliza and Alexander Hamilton happens during “Helpless” this shows how other people can influence one’s feelings. Finally, in the song “Say No To This” Maria Reynolds is introduced into an affair with Hamilton. Maria represents the bad things, like abuse and neglect, that very often did happen to women during that time period.

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