Lin-Manuel Miranda Breaks Down the Most "Heart-Stopping" Moment of 'Hamilton'

Amanda Garrity
Photo credit: Theo Wargo - Getty Images
Photo credit: Theo Wargo - Getty Images

From Good Housekeeping

  • Hamilton: An American Musical arrived on Disney+ on July 3.

  • The live capture of the Tony award-winning stage show received rave reviews.

  • The final scene begged one very important question: Why does Eliza gasp at the end of Hamilton?

Ironically enough, the most poignant moment in Hamilton, a show full of fast-talking raps, songs, and dialogue — happens when nothing is said at all.

At the very end of the show, the entire cast takes the stage to perform "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story," which is followed by a heart-wrenching monologue by Eliza Hamilton (played by Phillipa Soo). After sharing all the ways she's honoring her late husband's legacy, she delivers the final line of the show, "I can't wait to see you again. It's only a matter of time." Then Alexander (played by Lin-Manuel Miranda) takes his wife's hand and guides her to the edge of the stage. But here comes the point in question: Once Alexander leaves, Eliza gasps in horror (or so it seems) with tears streaming down her face.

It's unclear exactly what Eliza sees, which leaves plenty of room for interpretation. Some fans think the gasp symbolizes her death (the real Eliza Hamilton died at 97 years old, outliving the other characters from the show); others feel as though she gasps after realizing that she did, indeed, tell her husband's story.

But the fan theory that really made the rounds — and even caught Lin-Manuel Miranda's attention — was far less obvious. One TikTok user explains that it's actually Lin, not Alexander, who approaches Eliza in show's final scene. "That's Lin, he's playing himself. He's guiding her to the top of the stage. She breaks the fourth wall. She sees that he told her story."

But according to Lin-Manuel, there's no truth to this theory — although "it's a lovely notion." Instead, the man behind the moment encourages more interpretations because as he puts it, "The Gasp is The Gasp is The Gasp. I love all the interpretations."

Right before Hamilton made it's way to Disney+, Lin-Manuel explained why this moment is so important — "heart-stopping," in fact. "I think it's different for each Eliza," he told Wired. "It's heart-stopping, isn't it? It traverses time in some way. Whether that thing she's seeing is Hamilton, whether that thing she's seeing is heaven, whether that thing she's seeing is the world now. I think those are all valid and all fair. I do think she is seeing across a span of time in that moment."

Soo agrees. During her time on Broadway, she described all of the different ways fans have interpreted the gasp during an interview with AOL Build: "People are like, 'Is it Eliza going into heaven? Is she seeing Alexander? Is she seeing God? What is it?' And it’s kind of all of those things." Even while playing out this moment, she found the meaning behind the gasp to be different each and every night: "Sometimes, it’s literally, I look out and I see the audience, and that’s what it is, but I think, that idea of 'transcendence' is present in all of that. Whether it’s in Eliza’s mind, or in Phillipa's mind, they’re both one and the same, which is beautiful about that moment."

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