A Study of the Heartbreak of Eliza Schuyler

Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton has become a more well-known individual thanks to her role in Lin Manuel-Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton which is of course based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury Secretary of the United States after the War of Independence, he also happened to be married to Eliza. The purpose of this article is to look at one song, in particular, Burn, which depicts Eliza’s anger after she discovers Alexander’s affair with another married woman, which he published called The Reynolds Pamphlet. However, there are two versions of the song, the first which is simply entitled Burn is the official version which is performed on the original soundtrack. The second was released as part of The Hamilton Mixtape a collection of various versions of the songs performed by a host of well-known voices including Kelly Clarkson and John Legend. This version is called First Burn, not only because it was the first draft of the song but it also was written as Eliza’s first reaction to the news of her beloved husband’s affair. 

Hamilton New York

I want to examine these songs, and using Voyant Analysis, look to see if there are any differences lyrics wise between the two versions. Starting with the more well-known version Burn, sung by Phillipa Soo who played Eliza in the original Broadway production. The song itself is sad in its tone, it sounds like she is not angry, but it, in fact, sad over her husband’s affair. Not that you could blame her, of course, Eliza was devoted to her husband so this news shocked her to the very core. So much so she reportedly burned all correspondence between herself and her husband in a bid to ‘erase herself from the narrative’.

What is interesting about the analysis of these lyrics is that the word ‘Burn’ is not the most used word, compared to the earlier version of the lyrics which shows the word front and centre. This could be due to the tone of both songs, First Burn is a much more emotional song than the later version, Eliza is angry and heartbroken in equal stature. Of course, the lyrics have not changed a huge amount between the two versions but its the tone and feeling of the songs that have changed things. Both versions of the analysis have the same words that make up the lyrics, but they were changed in order to fit with the character’s emotional state in the scene.  

Visual Analysis of Burn

Visual Analysis of First Burn


For those who would like to listen to the songs and hear the difference: