In the beginning of this song, Hamilton and Burr return to New York after the war to continue their studies and become lawyers. It heavily focuses on expressing the rivalry between Burr & Hamilton and the ‘non-stop’ attitude that Hamilton holds, leaving Burr feeling left behind. Although Burr and Hamilton started working/studying at the same time, Hamilton improves rapidly and the spotlight of the story shifts to emphasizes the amount of raw ambition and pride Hamilton holds within his success, contributions and confidence.
Hamilton and Burr (and Livingston) work together as lawyers defending Levi Weeks in the first murder trial of the nation. And despite their clashing personalities, they are successful in defending their patient. Hamilton’s bold, open nature causes Burr to question him and why he works so hard for what he wants. Hamilton is then later chosen for the constitutional convention where he proposes and illustrates his ideas for a new form of government made with his beliefs in central democracy and justice. When Hamilton requests Burr to defend the constitution, Burr denies and conveys his ideologies to Hamilton. Although Hamilton is left without Burr’s help, Hamilton doesn’t give up. Teaming up with John Jay and James Madison, he writes 51 essays defending the document. This ‘non-stop’ attitude and hard work is noticed and Washington recruits Hamilton as his ‘right hand man’ put charge of the treasury. Things were not all good though, Hamilton’s behaviour resulted in the weakening of his relationships with Eliza (his wife), Burr, and Angelica.
Alexander Hamilton: Wants to push himself and better the nation in which he lives in with his abilities. Fears throwing away his shot and not making a difference. The song’s lyrics directly portrays Hamilton’s desires.
Aaron Burr: Wants to stand low and asses the situation before diving head in like Hamilton. Fear dying the early death of those who run their mouths. Burr’s passages express his ideologies and beliefs when he tells Hamilton that “I’ll (Burr) keep my plans close to my chest” (and) “Watching the tension grow”.
Angelica: Wants to move to London with her husband to live a comfortable life. Angelica’s lines declare this very clearly.
Eliza: Hamilton’s wife who wants Hamilton to be satisfied with how things are and have him stop pushing himself. Fears Hamilton losing his life. Her passages are all related to convince Hamilton that he has done enough.
George Washington: Recruits Hamilton as his right-hand man and in charge of the treasury. Most of George Washington’s lines are of him asking Hamilton to help him.
One of the things that is brought up in this song is the constitutional convention, and it took place during May 25 to September 17, 1787 and was held to discuss how to fix or revise the system of government they used at the time. In the song however, Hamilton, instead of revising the system, introduced his own to the convention. This is historically accurate, as Hamilton and James Madison took the convention as a way to restart rather than to fix up the government.
Emerging ideas and ideologies profoundly influence societies and events.
I chose this Big Idea because the whole spirit of this song is fueled by Hamilton wanting to push his beliefs and ideas and make the society better. For example, when Hamilton says “Burr, we studied, and we fought, and we killed for the notion of a nation we now get to build for once in your life, take a stand with pride I don’t understand how you stand to the side” he directly portrays how he doesn’t understand how Burr can just stand and watch with so much to be done. This ideology heavily influences Hamilton’s actions, pushing him to strive for success. Because of Hamilton’s non-stop ideals, events played out like they did. If Hamilton did not have this driving force, our society very much could have been very different.
Personal interest and Theme:
I found myself most interested in how Hamilton’s non-stop personality was portrayed. The tempo of the song and the way Hamilton said his lines were all very speedy and impatient in a way. That feeling of somebody putting so much effort into something was the most intriguing part for me. The line that resonated with me the most was when Burr said, “Hamilton wrote the other fifty-one!”. This stuck with me because it showed me how dedicated Hamilton was with his work. How he didn’t need to do it, but he did because it was important to him.
“Why do you write like you’re running out of time?”
“Hamilton wrote the other fifty-one!”
“I am not throwin’ away my shot!”
I think these three lines are best suited for the overall meaning of this song because they show how Hamilton works above and beyond and further it corroborates the songs title, non-stop. “Why do you write like you’re running out of time?” and “Hamilton wrote the other fifty-one!” express how Hamilton works constantly without stopping. “I am not throwin’ away my shot!” depicts the reason why Hamilton works so hard in the first place. It reasons that Hamilton is given this opportunity to impact the nation and now he has taken upon himself to make his colony the best it can be.