JAN / FEB 2017: BY KATIE FRIEDMANN
“You strike me as a woman who has never been satisfied.” These words essentially sum up Angelica Schuyler, a powerful figure in the musical Hamilton. She even sings/raps a song called “Satisfied.”
“Satisfied” is a key word in the show. Both Alexander Hamilton and Angelica are never satisfied and that leads them to be attracted to each other. Even in real life, she and Hamilton had a very flirtatious relationship; you could even go so far as to say it was an emotional affair. However, Angelica notices that her sister Eliza is similarly smitten, and decides to help her sister instead of herself.
Before we examine Lin-Manuel Miranda’s characterization of Angelica, we should get the historical inaccuracy out of the way. In “Satisfied,” Angelica claims that “my father has no sons, so I’m the one who has to social climb, for one.” In reality, General Philip Schuyler had two older sons, but Miranda said that he “definitely had to take a dramatic license.” So why does Angelica do what she does?
Her character is defined by love. Though a significant amount of her stage time is devoted to her attraction to Hamilton, she is characterized by how much she loves her sister. She sacrifices the man she expects could be the love of her life and intellectual equal because of Eliza’s crush. Later on, when he cheats on her with Maria Reynolds, Angelica returns to America from London just to tell Hamilton off. It is spelled out plain as day in “The Reynolds Pamphlet”: “I love my sister more than anything in this life, I will choose her happiness over mine every time. Put what we had aside, I’m standing at her side. You could never be satisfied. God, I hope you’re satisfied.”
In a new, stronger wave of feminism and the rise of the Bechdel Test, it is becoming increasingly prominent how often women are just placed into stories to fight over men. Angelica and Eliza (and Peggy, for that matter) are a testament to sisterly love. Eliza puts her sister over Hamilton as well; after the affair, in “Burn,” Eliza repeatedly quotes Angelica’s warning advice, showing that she was well aware of her husband’s flaws and trusted her sister above all else. In “Take a Break,” when Alexander goes back on his promise to spend the summer with the Schuylers, Eliza goes with Angelica anyways. Throughout this musical, despite the many bridges burned and bonds broken, the one between the Schuyler Sisters remains strong. The two women refuse to let a man get in the way of their relationship and still have the utmost respect, admiration, and love for each other.