‘Hamilton’: What Does Eliza’s Gasp at the End Mean?

The filmed adaptation of Hamilton has taken everyone’s quarantine by storm. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s famous musical has given us all something new to watch, re-watch, and dissect over and over again while we’re stuck at home, and we couldn’t be more grateful for the distraction. And dissect, the internet has!

Even though the soundtrack has been out since 2015 and the musical is entirely sung-through (it has little to no dialogue and the songs tell the entirety of the story), there are still plenty of new things on-screen for fans to obsess over with Hamilton. One such moment happens in the last two minutes of the film — Eliza’s gasp. Wondering what it means? Let’s take a look.

‘Hamilton’ tells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton

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Since its debut on Broadway in 2015, Hamilton has been a cultural phenomenon. It breaks the mold for your typical Broadway success stories, casting minorities in all of its leading roles and with most of the songs being rapped, and because of that, it’s been nearly impossible for the average person to score tickets to a performance.

That’s why everyone was looking forward to the Hamilton film release. Disney even released it a year early as a bit of a pick-me-up during the coronavirus pandemic!

The story of Hamilton centers around the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the country’s Founding Fathers who generally never got as much attention as his peers, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The main focus of the musical is that Hamilton was obsessed with leaving a legacy — but, ultimately, no one gets to choose what their legacy is. 

Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, plays a leading role in the musical. It is she who, in the end, shares her husband’s legacy with the world. Even though she was scorned by him in their marriage, and the fact that he was partially responsible for the death of their son, Eliza continuously tried to make a name for the Hamiltons after his death. 

Eliza’s gasp at the end of ‘Hamilton’ has fans searching for a meaning

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The last half of the finale of Hamilton is sung primarily by Eliza. In it, she is singing directly to Alexander and telling him about everything she’s done in her life since he died, and the ways she has worked to spread his legacy.

The final lyrics say, “And when my time is up, Have I done enough? Will they tell your story? Oh, I can’t wait to see you again. It’s only a matter of time.”

After that, the ensemble finishes the song, then Eliza looks out into the audience, gasps, and the lights fade to black. Viewers are left pondering the meaning of the emotional moment as the ensemble takes their bows on stage. And, as with everything else, people have taken to the internet with their pondering.

So, what does it mean?

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Phillipa Soo
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Phillipa Soo | Disney+

Many theories have been posed as to what Eliza’s gasp is supposed to mean. Some believe that that moment is Eliza seeing heaven after her death, meaning that she’s being reunited with Alexander and her late son.

Others theorize that she’s breaking the fourth wall at that moment, so she is actually seeing the audience — proving that she has successfully told his story and spread his legacy. 

Miranda and director Tommy Kail answered a fan recently in a video who asked what the gasp was supposed to mean. They shared that it was open to interpretation and declined to give a definitive answer, but they did state that it could be any of the theories going around the internet right now.

Miranda also said that each Eliza performed the gasp differently, leading to even more interpretations. Whatever the intended meaning, it’s giving us all something to talk about.