Hamilton Metaphors and Similes

Diamond in the rough (Metaphor)

In "My Shot," Hamilton sings, “I’m a diamond in the rough, a shining piece of coal.”

Hamilton knows his own worth and knows that given the chance he could do great things, but during the song ‘My Shot’ he is still young and without renown or experience. A "diamond in the rough" is a colloquial metaphor that refers to someone that has tremendous potential but lacks education and breeding. In this moment, Hamilton acknowledges his humble beginnings and the fact that while he may not be the typical pedigreed gentleman, he is a man of good character who could become someone great.

Moses (Simile)

Also in "My Shot," Hamilton compares himself to Moses, saying, "We roll like Moses, claiming our promised land."

In this moment, Hamilton uses a simile comparing himself to Moses to show just how passionate he is about the American cause. He believes so fully in the war and America's future, that he imagines he is like the Biblical hero who led a resistance against the Egyptians. Although he is not an explicitly religious, Hamilton is guided by his self-belief, a kind of fervent confidence that mirrors the characters of the Bible, enlisted to do God's work.

Powder Keg (Metaphor)

In "Right Hand Man," Washington sings, “We are a powder keg about to explode."

At this point in the musical, the war is not going well for the Americans, as their army lacks discipline and stability. Washington has been left by Congress to deal with the war on his own and the troops have placed him on a pedestal as a representation of the revolution. The pressure is on for him to lead his army to victory. This pressure is encapsulated in Washington's metaphor of a powder keg about to explode. The use of such an evocative metaphor heightens the dramatic tension of the moment, showing that the Americans are under immense pressure.

Hurricane (Metaphor)

A literal hurricane destroys Hamilton’s home island when he is young. As a child, he writes about the devastation, which so moves the members of his community that they raise money to send him to America. In this instance, the hurricane is a literal event that changes the course of Hamilton's life—while it destroys his life in many ways, it also is what propels him towards possibility.

Later, after Jefferson, Madison, and Burr learn of Hamilton’s affair, Hamilton feels like he is in the eye of a hurricane. The hurricane represents destruction and the dissolution of his reputation. This secret, in his enemies’ hands, can potentially damage and even completely ruin his career and personal life. The hurricane that Hamilton sings about in this song represents the turmoil and personal difficulties he is on the brink of facing. It is no longer a literal hurricane, but a psychological and social one.