A) Character Development
In “Dear Theodosia”, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton serenade their children. Burr sings to his daughter, Theodosia, and Hamilton sings to his son, Philip. They sing lyrics of wanting their children to stay safe, live healthy lives, and grow up in a better world. Throughout this song, we experience irony, foreshadowing, and plenty of character development.
To start off, let’s look at Aaron Burr’s character development. Burr is portrayed as the antagonist throughout the musical, mainly because he is Hamilton’s enemy and ends up killing Hamilton. However, in “Dear Theodosia”, we see his softer side and begin to humanize him. Burr plans and prepares all of his actions with caution. As a very calculated man, Burr rarely takes risks or allows room for mistakes. Due to this, we see how Theodosia causes a major shift in Burr’s mindset when he tells her, “I’ll make a million mistakes” (Hamilton). Theodosia opens up a softer side of her dad.
Burr also sings, “when you smile, you knock me out, I fall apart” (Hamilton). This line ties into one of Burr’s lines from the song ‘Aaron Burr, Sir’ where he says, “talk less, smile more, don’t let them know what your against or fighting for” (Hamilton). In ‘Aaron Burr, Sir”, Burr associates smiles with calculation, strategy, and manipulation. Theodosia’s pure smile is stark in contrast to this, which is most likely why it throws Burr so heavily.
In the song ‘Dear Theodosia’, we also see a few key personality traits of Hamilton. When Hamilton sings, “I’ll do whatever it takes” to his son about creating a better world for him, it reveals his forwardness in his actions (Hamilton). Through this line, Hamilton evidently believes that he can and will succeed, which, in comparison to Burr’s line about making mistakes, reveals Hamilton’s arrogance and confidence.
Despite all the personal character developments, the main element of this song is its ability to showcase the similarities between Hamilton and Burr. As they serenade their children, we see their softer sides and their motivation behind their fights for the American Revolution. They just want to create a better world for their children. We also see their difficult pasts with absent fathers, which further fueled their want to be present in their kids’ lives. This common ground and similarities between Burr and Hamilton are very important due to their dislike for each other.
This song also contains some foreshadowing irony (spoilers ahead). Burr and Hamilton sing of protecting their children from no harm, but their children both die before their fathers. Burr’s daughter, Theodosia, dies at sea when she is 29 on a trip to see her father. Hamilton’s son, Philip, dies in combat with a man that makes fun of Hamilton, thus, aggravating Philip to fight him. As you can see, it is quite ironic how Burr and Hamilton sing of protecting their children, yet, Theodosia and Philip die to causes surrounding their fathers. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr sing to their children, “you’ll blow us all away,” which foreshadows to their children literally being blown away and killed later on (Hamilton).
B) Connections to Historical Elements
While “Dear Theodosia” contributes more to character development of the musical than the actual American Revolution, but we do gain insight on why many people fought so hard. People poured blood, sweat, and tears into this revolution so that their children and the next generation could live better lives. Another perspective to take on is female rights. Burr sings to Theodosia about creating a world where she can shine (he follows through and educates her on many men dominated topics such as arithmetics). At the time that this took place, women had very few rights and were seen as inferior to men.
“Dear Theodosia” connects mainly to the Big Idea that says “disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies.” Injustices and disparities in power drove the American Revolution to occur, but if looking at “Dear Theodosia” specifically, we can take on the female angle. Aaron Burr serenades his daughter saying he wants her to have a better life where she can thrive. In the late 1700s, women had little to no rights. They were seen as possessions of men, and had many educational, economical, and social regulations. Burr sings “we’ll give the world to you/ and you’ll blow us all away” showing his beliefs and wants for Theodosia to be given the world (Hamilton). She drove him to fight which altered Burr’s relationship with her and with society.
C) Guided Question
[HAMILTON and BURR]
You will come of age with our young nation
[HAMILTON and BURR]
We’ll bleed and fight for you
[HAMILTON and BURR]
We’ll make it right for you
These lines from Hamilton and Burr reveal their motivation to make the world right for their children. To break it down, let’s start with the first portion of the line “you will come of age with our young nation.” They strived to make a world where their children did not have to experience the British oppression or the negatives of living in a society with colonies. They wanted their children to grow up with a new nation of freedom, stripped from all the difficult conditions that currently existed. The next section says “we’ll bleed and fight for you.” The American Revolution was very difficult to say the least. Blood was shed and people threw their lives in disarray for the revolution. In order to fight relentlessly, many need external motivation such as, fighting for their children and loved ones. The last section, and most important in my opinion, says “we’ll make it right for you.” In that section, Hamilton and Burr show their want to create a better society for their children to grow up in. Since the American Revolution held many hardships, people needed to keep an end goal in mind to keep persevering. Hamilton and Burr portray that perfectly in fighting to make the world right for their children.
The American Revolution forced many to drastically change their views on life and the way they approached everyday. For example, Burr learns to make mistakes and fight relentlessly for Theodosia to live a proper life. While the American Revolution did not make much of an impact in female rights, parents fought for their children to grow up in a better society. The American Revolution was messy and it took away some privileges and easy luxuries in many people’s lives, but it was in hope for a brighter future. Overall, the American Revolution forced people to throw their lives into disarray for their loved ones.