Monday, November 7, 2016

Hamilton v. Hamlet: Is There Room for Another Shakespeare?

Share it Please
Researching this paper has made me more than a little excited to tackle a sort of contrast between Shakespeare and popular playwright Lin Manuel Miranda. At first this seemed like a pretty hard comparison to draw, because musicals and dramas are different beasts. However, I feel like they’re both valid works of literature and have been able to influence audiences in a major way. That being said, I’ve decided to narrow down my topic and figure out what defines an artist as a “Shakespeare”, and then decide whether Lin Manuel fits the bill.

I worried that there wouldn’t be many resources for this essay, but I was definitely mistaken. I’ve found a scholarly blog connecting Shakespeare and Hamilton, which does an in-depth analysis of the rhetoric that Hamilton’s characters use and compares their forms and voices to Shakespeare’s characters. I found a video of the cast of Hamilton doing a tribute to the Bard, (like a “what-would-Shakespeare-say-to-Lin” type deal) that was really great! I found a pretty cool forum that had a lot of opinions under the question “Will Lin Manuel Miranda Surpass William Shakespeare in Legacy?”

My favorite source, however, I have yet to tap. I found a PDF for the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival Conference that took place this year. One of the panelists for the conference was a grad student named Bridgett Vanderhoof, and her piece was titled, “Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton and Shakespeare.” The abstract discusses Hamilton as a history play and how someone begins to be “historicized.” In one of my best feats of Internet stalking, I found Bridgett’s profile on the university website, her LinkedIn profile, and her wedding registry. As soon as I get a little farther in my research, I plan to reach out to her and ask her opinions and sources via LinkedIn.

I asked the Slack channel how they would define a “Shakespeare,” and Isaac and Micah gave me some great feedback about a few characteristics that are intrinsic to Shakespeare. Mallory also gave me a really enthusiastic response when I first proposed the idea, which was very encouraging!

I am so excited about this paper. I don’t think I’ve ever been thrilled to write a research paper before, but I think Miranda is awesome, and I think Shakespeare is awesome, so there’s really no going wrong here.


  1. I've always considered Lin Manuel Miranda the great bard of our time, so I'm glad to see that someone is delving into that as a research topic! It would be really interesting to study how the music communicates the meaning of both Shakespeare's plays and Lin Manuel Miranda's musical, as a great deal of Miranda's brilliance is how he communicates themes, characters, and emotion through his great range of music. It might help to support your argument rather than relying exclusively on the lyrics.

  2. I've never seen Hamilton although it's become pretty popular. I may have to go listen to some of the songs and get the gist of the plot. I think this is a neat idea because Shakespeare is so classic and timeless. Will there ever really be anyone who can match him?