A Deep Dive into the Hamilton Stunner “Satisfied”

Erin Conley

Having seen Hamilton last year, while I find the entire show to be a masterpiece, I keep coming back to one song that I personally think is not just the best song in the show, but the greatest masterpiece Lin-Manuel Miranda has ever written and one of the finest examples of musical storytelling I have ever seen—”Satisfied.”

“Satisfied” is the eleventh song in the show and comes about halfway through act one. Here’s some background: the song immediately before it, “Helpless,” chronicles, from Eliza Schuyler’s point of view, the first time she and her older sister, Angelica, meet Alexander Hamilton at a party. Hamilton and Eliza are immediately smitten with one another, and in just a few short weeks they’re walking down the aisle. “Satisfied” begins with Angelica giving what appears to be a standard maid of honor toast at the nuptials and quickly becomes so much more. 

Let’s break down this number in all its genius, shall we? Angelica beings with a toast…

A toast to the groom
To the bride
From your sister
Who is always by your side
To your union
And the hope that you provide
May you always
Be satisfied

At this point, the action freezes, and, in a truly inspired piece of staging that literally made my jaw drop, the scene rewinds around Angelica before your eyes, taking us back to the beginning of “Helpless”—except now we’re seeing that fateful first meeting of the Schuyler sisters and Hamilton from Angelica’s point of view. IT’S SO GOOD.

I remember that night I just might
Regret that night for the rest of my days
I remember those soldier boys
Trippin’ over themselves to win our praise
I remember that dream like candlelight
Like a dream that you can’t quite place
But Alexander I’ll never forget the first time I saw your face

Ruh roh. It looks like Eliza wasn’t the only Schuyler to fall in love at first sight with Hamilton. 

I have never been the same
Intelligent eyes in a hunger pang frame
And when you said ‘hi’ I forgot my dang name
Set my heart aflame every part aflame
This is not a game

Hmm, what part could she possibly be referring to? Also, does “hunger pang frame” mean Hamilton was kinda scrawny (history seems to corroborate this) or does it just mean Angelica was thirsty for him? Either way, it’s brilliant. 

[Hamilton] You strike me as a woman who has never been satisfied
[Angelica] I’m sure I don’t know what you mean
You forget yourself
[Hamilton] You’re like me I’m never satisfied
[Angelica] Is that right?
[Hamilton] I have never been satisfied
[Angelica] My name is Angelica Schuyler
[Hamilton] Alexander Hamilton
[Angelica] Where’s your family from?
[Hamilton] Unimportant there’s a million things I haven’t done
But just you wait just you wait

One of the things Hamilton does so well is giving each character their own refrains and musical signature that pop up over and over again throughout the show. Here, Hamilton sings his own name in the rhythm of the opening number. Also, talk about a flirty first meeting full of subtext. That Hamilton has game, which I guess he’d have to for not one but two women to fall instantly in love with him.

So so so
So this is what it feels like to match wits
With someone at your level
What the hell is the catch
It’s the feeling the freedom of seeing the light
It’s Ben Franklin with a key and a kite
You see it right

The brilliant Renee Elise Goldsberry gets to really show off her rap skills in this verse, which has a rhythm reminiscent of “Superbass” by Nikki Minaj. But, ever the pragmatist, Angelica has already decided this instant connection must be too good to be true. 

The conversation lasted two minutes maybe three minutes
Everything we said in total agreement
It’s a dream and it’s a bit of a dance
A bit of a posture and it’s a bit of a stance
He’s a bit of a flirt but I’mma give it a chance
I asked about his family did you see his answer
His hands started fidgeting he looked askance
He’s penniless he’s flying by the seat of his pants

Despite all of those parts that are aflame, Angelica is still paying close attention and sizing Hamilton up. A girl after my own heart. But really, aside from the whole penniless thing everything appears to be going swimmingly, what could possibly go wrong? 

Handsome boy does he know it
Peach fuzz and he can’t even grow it
I wanna take him far away from this place
Then I turn and see my sister’s face and she is
[Eliza] Helpless…

And there it is. And this is where things take a turn for the heartbreaking (although the fact that we just watched Alexander marry Eliza was probably a solid clue that this wouldn’t go well for Angelica). 

[Angelica] And I know she is
[Eliza] Helpless
[Angelica] And her eyes are just
[Eliza] Helpless
[Angelica] And I realize
Three fundamental truths at the exact same time

What’s going through your head, Angelica? Surely you’re about to tell us in an impossibly clever rap.

[Ham] Where are you taking me?
[Angelica] I’m about to change your life
[Ham] Then by all means lead the way

We’ve seen this moment before, in “Helpless,” but it’s so much more loaded given this new point of view and context.

Number one
I’m a girl in a world in which
My only job is to marry rich
My father has no son so I’m the one
Who has to social climb for one
So I’m the oldest and the wittiest
And the gossip in New York City is insidious
And Alexander is penniless
That doesn’t mean I want him any less

This song is a master class in plot and character development in one gorgeous 5-minute package. In this verse and the following verses, we get a perfect picture of who Angelica is as a person, in addition to the Schuyler family dynamic and her relationship with her sister. 

[Eliza] Elizabeth Schuyler. It’s a pleasure to meet you
[Ham] Schuyler?
[Angelica] My sister
Number two
He’s after me cause I’m a Schuyler sister
That elevates his status
I’d have to be naïve to set that aside
Maybe that is why
I introduce him to Eliza now that’s his bride
Nice going Angelica he was right
You will never be satisfied

While Angelica describes the thought process that leads her to introduce Hamilton to Eliza rather than pursuing him herself in great detail, it’s important to remember that in reality it was a snap decision she made in a matter of seconds. Here, she’s clearly making excuses to make herself feel better, convincing herself that at least part of the connection she felt was financially and socially motivated rather than genuine. 

[Eliza] Thank you for your service
[Ham] If it takes fighting a war for us to meet it will have been worth it
[Angelica] I’ll leave you to it

Considering he was known for his writing skills, it’s not really a surprise that Hamilton’s pick-up lines are a step above “do you come here often?” 

Number three
I know my sister like I know my own mind
You will never find anyone as trusting or as kind
If I tell her that I love him she’d be silently resigned
He’d be mine
She would say I’m fine
She’d be lying

Ugh. UGH. All of the practical excuses aside, Angelica’s heartbreaking decision ultimately comes down to her love for her sister. As she states in a song later in the show, she would “choose her happiness over mine every time.” And boy does she. 

But when I fantasize at night it’s Alexander’s eyes
As I romanticize what might have been
If I hadn’t sized him up so quickly
At least my dear Eliza’s his wife
At least I keep his eyes in my life

Angelica admits that part of her reason for passing Hamilton off to her sister was selfish—she’d rather have him as a brother-in-law than not at all. She also seems to already be feeling some regret. The 2016 version is that Hamilton popped up on Angelica’s Tinder and she wasn’t quite feeling his first picture so she swiped left without really giving him a chance. And now it’s time to go back to the wedding toast, which has taken on an entirely different mood and meaning after all that we have just learned. 

To the groom
To the bride
From your sister
Who is always by your side
To your union
And the hope that you provide
May you always
Be satisfied
And I know she’ll be happy as his bride
And I know he will never be satisfied
I will never be satisfied

And there we have it. The action resumes, and no one but the audience is the wiser that while Angelica may be playing the role of the smiling maid of honor, inside her heart is breaking. 

Bravo, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Bravo.