House of Cards, a Netflix original series has already garnered unprecedented amount of popularity and praise not only for its hard hitting look into American politics but also for the impeccable acting of the ensemble cast. There have been tons of accolades for the lead pair of Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright including the Golden Globe awards for both. But going beyond the outstanding direction and acting that characterizes this extraordinary political drama, it is the storyline and more specifically the writing that I find myself most drawn to.
Frank Underwood, the main protagonist often thinks aloud for the benefit of the viewers and his musings are more like a window into life. They seem especially relevant to me having reached the stage in life when I have come to realize that there are very few things in life that are laid out in clear black and white. Most things in life come imbibed with a shade of grey and our understanding of the event is built on how we perceive the same set of facts, for facts are rarely taken as just facts. A layer of interpretations covers these facts which are then twisted, turned or simply bent to suit our view of things as they should be, for, as humans, we are never content with leaving things as they naturally are.
Francis Underwood plays a dangerous game but he plays it with an élan and style that makes you admire the man even while you hate his manipulative, murdering ways. I decided to read the book out of sheer curiosity, but I must admit that I find the televised drama much more interesting and absorbing. I particularly wanted to see if any of the scripted lines have been adopted from the book and was pleasantly surprised to find that they seem to have been originally written by the talented team of writers at the House of Cards.
Hats off to the writers for coming up with such subtle, apt and thought provoking lines on such a regular basis!
While there are one too many lines to consider, I have decided to include my 10 personal favorites in the interest of brevity.
- “We are nothing more or less than what we choose to reveal.”
I like this one because in one short line it tells us the profound truth that people’s perceptions are based entirely on what we chose to tell about ourselves, the stories we chose to build around our personality make us the brand we are. Essentially what we market is what people see, so be careful of how you conduct yourself in the public domain
- “The nature of promises, Linda, is that they remain immune to changing circumstances.”
This one stems from a universal truths that governs human relationships that promises are based on trust, you break one and you cause irreparable damage to the other. There are no excuses that can cover broken promises or broken trust.
- “After all, what is faith if it doesn't endure when we are tested the most? “
Adversity can break even the strongest of us and when we are unable to make sense of our surroundings, our faith is the only thing that can keep us going, help us maintain sanity and pull us through tough times. Some events defy any rational explanation and faith helps us accept them and move forward.
- “If we never did anything we shouldn't do, we'd never feel good about doing the things we should.”
There is no denying the fact that life forces us to do some things even against our will, which is when we learn to appreciate the freedom of choice.
- “If you don't like how the table is set, turn over the table.”
Don’t like the way your life is going, a paradigm shift in thinking is called for. No one else is going to set things right for you, you need to take the reins of your life in your own hands and do what it takes to get things going your way even if it means upsetting some others.
- “Friends make the worst enemies
You share yourself with your friends and they come to know your deepest fears, your strengths and weaknesses. As foes they can use this knowledge to their advantage to bring you down which is why a friend turned enemy is twice as dangerous as an enemy who remains an enemy.
- “Shake with your right hand but hold a rock in the left”
Every person who shakes your hand is not your well wisher and be ready to strike when the occasion demands. Keep yourself protected at all times as you don’t know when danger might strike.
- “It's not the beginning of the story that I fear. It's not knowing how it will end”
Uncertainty about the fate of an outcome can be very scary, especially when the stakes are high. it is the time in between doing something and not knowing what the end result will be which is the period of greatest mental stress and fear.
- “Even Achilles was only as strong as his heel”
All of us have one or more vulnerabilities and weaknesses and our strength can actually be measured by our ability to overcome or withstand pressure or stress on our vulnerability, since the tendency to succumb is the strongest when our weaknesses are put to test.
- When the money is coming your way, you don’t ask any questions
Money is the ultimate harbinger of greed; it silences all questions and makes slaves of even the best of us. Money serves its own purpose; very few of us think of questioning the source, as long as it keeps coming in to keep us happy and grateful in our present state of ignorance.
As I said before, these are just 10 of my favorite lines from The House of Cards. I am sure you will have your personal favorites as well and I would love to know if your list differs from mine.