Multiple times throughout the musical, Hamilton sings that he will “not throw away” his shot and often while he does this he raises his arm to represent firing a gun. This action foreshadows both Philip's and Hamilton’s deaths later in the musical, as both of them would eventually “throw away” their shot by choosing not to fire on their opponent in a duel, instead firing into the air.
Many of the actors take on duel characters, one for each act. This means that their style of dress, manner, and voice drastically change after the intermission. One thing these actors have in common with their colleagues who take on only one role throughout, is the change in hair style. Each main character wears his or her hair tied up during the first act and loose within the second (with the exception of Burr, who was played by the bald Leslie Odom Junior and Hercules Mulligan, who loses his hat to play Madison). This change represents many things, the change in time from the first act being the clearest. It could also reflect the change in the play's setting, the America of the first act being represented through military figures and campaigns where the second act is shown through the turmoil of the first American cabinet.
In the two Cabinet Battles between Jefferson and Hamilton, the men wield handheld microphones. This more informal and performative image, of two men in colonial garb holding handheld microphones, is historically anachronistic and represents the ways that the struggles between these politicians is meant to mimic the struggle between two battling rappers. Hamilton, in its use of rap music to tell a historical story, seeks to represent the struggles of the original Founding Fathers through more recognizable and accessible contemporary aesthetics. Thus, the two men holding handheld microphones and acting as though they are "freestyling" their political positions pulls modern viewers into the narrative in a playful way.
Hamilton is often seen to be physically reading or writing letters on stage to communicate. He writes to Congress, receives word of Laurens' death and has it read to him by Eliza, signs his letters to Burr, and writes a farewell letter to Eliza before his death. His near-constant writing represents his anxiety surrounding his work never being finished; as Burr repeatedly asks, “why do you write like you’re running out of time?” Hamilton did not think he would live past twenty and is very conscious of death, so he lives his life always working and hoping to start a legacy before he dies. This is represented by the image of him writing onstage a great deal.
Hamilton Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Hamilton is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.