They say the world will end, not with a bang, but with a whimper. Though in the case of Eliza Hamilton, it was with a pretty decisive gasp. Those who have watched the widely popular Broadway musical Hamilton on Disney+ know that the final scene ends on Eliza, who appears to see something shocking beyond the stage and audibly cries out with tears in her eyes. Many have tried to interpret what this moment signifies; however, one theory about Eliza's gasp seems to have been debunked by Lin-Manuel Miranda himself, who recently commented on one viewer's unique idea about that closing scene.
"When he goes behind her, he's no longer Alexander, he's Lin," TikTok user Mallory Ellis (@malloryellis4) theorized in a video that went viral — as the closing number plays out on her television screen in the background. "He takes Eliza's hand. He lets her know that it's OK to go. 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 while it's intriguing to think that Eliza is ultimately made aware of her impact on history and telling the story of Alexander Hamilton, Miranda himself doesn't necessarily agree with the notion, at least not entirely.
After having the theory pointed out to him on Twitter, the Hamilton star responded by stating that even though it's a "lovely notion" to consider, "it breaks down the moment I’m not playing the role." He concluded that ultimately "The Gasp is The Gasp is The Gasp," but conceded that even if he doesn't agree with every theory, "I love all the interpretations."
This isn't the only time Miranda has addressed the many theories surrounding Hamilton's final moments. Shortly after Hamilton made its debut on Disney+, the cast and crew took to Twitter during a Wired interview to answer questions about the show, including that famous gasp. "I think it's different for each Eliza," Miranda stated when asked what the gasp actually means. "I do think that 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."
Hamilton director Thomas Kail was a little less forthcoming in his response on the matter, though he did commend Miranda for having the foresight to leave audiences with a cliffhanger that'll continue to be talked about for the days, weeks, and years to come. "I'm happy that there's a dot dot dot at the end of our show as opposed to some sort of definitive statement," he added.
So what's the basic takeaway from all of this? There's no wrong way to interpret the ending because not even those who were in the room where it happens knows for sure what (or who) it is that Eliza sees. But that's a big part of what makes Hamilton so special — and why it's worth watching again and again.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to accurately attribute the theory to Mallory Ellis.
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