Can we talk for a minute about Act 1 vs Act 2?
Act 1 as everyone saw it: a time of WAR. People aware dying and fighting there is no order and government the economy is a mess, homes are divided father vs son. It really sucks. Hamilton himself is a starving nobody who can’t get what he wants and has just this tee-niney inkling of hope backed comely off of the “well it’s gotten this bad surely it can’t get worse” (and then it gets worse) philosophy.
Act 1 as Lin Manuel Miranda Saw it: lots of exciting hopeful music. Friendship, family, freedom, hope, love for the small victories in life type songs.
Act 2 as everyone saw it: is a period of restoration. Building something new, lots of trial and error but this whole new great country that is our for the taking. Hamilton has money, he has his dream job, he’s got a wonderful wife and kids. Everything is awesome.
Act 2 as LMM saw it: grab a box of tissues because heartbreak and loss and sadness surrond us. Seem backwards to anyone else?
Act 1 is a time of disparity when what the people needed most was hope. This is the optimistic side shining through because they all keep finding new rock bottom but they know they can come back up. It is also a built-in safety feature of the brain to block out things that it deems too terrible and to ignore negativity if you can’t handle it it’s similar to why many people think crying in public is such a terrible humiliating thing.
Act 2, the drive they had to survive is no longer needed. They have met their goal of winning the war, of finding a spouse, of making some money, getting the job etc. they don’t have to hold onto hope like a lifeline because they’ve got it all.
All ‘sad’ songs are followed by a more uplifting one because when disaster strikes they are briefly reminded of BEFORE so they lapse back to their hospital excitement that pulled them through.
But wait there’s more
There’s more to the reversed mood of the show for the psychological reasons of the characters and the way the creator’s brain works finding the light in the dark. This also demonstrates the balance people find in different aspects of their lives and how Hamilton struggled to get that.
Eliza is happier without him. Songs when he is not in her life, are H Y P E and so is helpless when she first meets him and falls in love. After he’s gone-Who Lives Who Dies…-she goes on and does so much more and is so proud of herself. But songs between there she is so..down, her only really happy upbeat thing is when Angelica is around.
Hamilton doesn’t know how to balance his work and family. His work and his friends/coworkers: Yorktown, the cabinet battles, story of tonight, what’d I miss, right hand man, every song you can think of that affects his job is very upbeat-he doesn’t speak in Adams Admin. but what he sings about his family…they’re very melancholy and slower (he has dumb it all down for Eliza ‘cause she’s not his intellectual equal -that’s Angelica-(another post for another time)) Even Dear Theodosia has is an uplifting song but it’s a good tear jerker. And in Dear Theodosia he shares the song with his buddy from work.
After he has his job secured (end of Act 1) he has to focus on the other part of his life. His family. He’s never been a family guy. The first thing Eliza said about him “When he was ten his father split,” he’s never had a family and he doesn’t know what to do with the one he made so they’re all very down and everything is bad and he leaves a wake of distruction. And things weren’t too great back home so he would focus on work and then he was like wait, love it is nice why hello Mrs. Reynolds, this is a bad idea but what’s the worst that could happen? Literally all of his big major problems could have been prevented if he hadn’t done that(her) (another post for another time)