“The World Was Wide Enough”

I know Hamilton promised us earlier in the musical he was not throwing away his shot, but indications are he did just that in his fatal final confrontation with Aaron Burr. Hamilton felt seemingly honor-bound to duel but also was increasingly opposed to dueling on religious grounds…oh and perhaps influenced by the death of his son in a duel just three years before. So it appears he deliberately shot above and far wide of Aaron Burr. While the song has Burr claiming he was a terrible shot, he in fact had excellent aim and may also have practiced for the duel (though target practice in advance was considered in-sportsmanlike at the time). He shot to kill and he succeeded, though Hamilton lingered a few days before dying.

In the staging of this scene, a cast member holds a bullet they eventually carry  from Burr’s gun to Hamilton’s chest, but not before Hamilton delivers his soliloquy in the middle of the song.

The eerie keyboard music that comes into the song just as Burr sings, “We rode across the Hudson at dawn” seemed familiar to me but I couldn’t place it. It turns out to be the same melody as the “Whoah ho hoah” vocals from “My Shot,” but now turned from jubilant shouts into the trembling notes of a dirge.

It kills me (metaphorically) when in this song Burr brings back the line, “Death doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints, it takes, and it takes, and it takes.”

The title comes from an actual quote from Burr that he said years after the duel: “I should have known the world was wide enough for both Hamilton and me.” I wish he had.

 

 

One thought on ““The World Was Wide Enough”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s