House of Cards is a well written and critically acclaimed Netflix series created by Beau Willimon that delves into the darker themes of politics that nonetheless still accurately portrays Washington in some ways better than others that goes into societal issues on power and control. House of Cards follows Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) as a South Carolina congressman who ruthlessly rises through Washington to become President of the United States to gain more power as the man in the highest office in the world. As a character, Frank Underwood had always been a ruthless, egotistical sadist since the beginning, but as the series continues, he becomes more involved with his pride and his yearning for more power. The show demonstrates how people yearn for power and control over others and how Frank Underwood exemplifies this character trait. Even though many of Frank Underwood’s actions, such as murder, are exaggerated from real life politicians, his ruthless tendency for power and control over the course of the last five seasons reflects on present day politicians with their own paths to control others through fear and power. Many politicians aim for the highest offices in their country to impose their own self-rule through various tactics, such as gerrymandering, to round up their own supporters and silence opponents, and political corruption to abuse the power of the government to increase his or her control over others. Underwood has shown the issue of ruthlessness and hunger for power. For example; at the end of the first episode of the second season, Underwood monologues to the audience about why he murdered a certain character. Underwood, even though he had a strong sexual and secret relationship with this character, murdered her with no remorse because she had become a problem in his path to gaining power; she had transitioned from a “kitten” to a “cat”. The metaphor that Underwood is expressing is to show that the character who started out as innocent and obedient, become independent and rebellious, something would potentially become a problem for Underwood. The character may have meant something to him initially, but to him, she was simply another problem needing to be fixed. In the scene, he says, “For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted.” His speech about the murder of the character demonstrates his extent to gain power and shows off his ruthless nature. Even though he cared for her, Underwood murdered her in cold blood simply because she became a threat in his conquest for political ambition.
The scene further demonstrates and comments on how Underwood would do anything to further his political venture to control more power; much to the similarities today, Underwood displays an exaggerating action to tone down the actions of modern day politicians. Where Underwood directly caused the death of this character, politicians today indirectly cause physical harm through inhumane policies and rhetoric that Underwood would support in his Washington. In Sophocles’ Antigone, Creon, the King of Thebes is blinded by power and is shown as arrogant, ignorant, and cruel. King Creon used his the role as king to rule by his own will, not for the people’s will at heart; Creon rules as if it his unquestionable right to rule as king, ruling as a leader who displays himself as the sole power and authority of the state. In his role as king, Creon had not only acted as the power hungry leader: he acted displayed a sort of cruel ruling that came with his leadership, such as how he treats his watchman with such disrespect (lines 315-326), his ignorance by not listening to his son, Haemon (lines 726-765), and the cruelty in his arrogance when speaking to Antigone shows him as a cold person (lines 497-525). Throughout the society that is shown in Sophocles’ plays, leadership is shown as an egotistical array of arrogance, ignorance, and cruelty, particularly demonstrated through Creon. Creon’s hubris (or his excessive pride) was his tragic flaw, causing his downfall. In a similar fashion, Frank Underwood’s hubris is what led to his inevitable downfall; his pride got the better of him and his grasp on power gradually fell out; his power as President was swept from beneath him because of his ignorance, arrogance, and hubris, similar to Creon’s downfall as king. Sophocles wanted to show the reader how power leads to ignorance, arrogance, and cruelty, and that a person’s tragic flaw, such as a person’s hubris, will to their demise. In today’s society, the same view applies; as politicians gain power, their become more arrogant, more ignorant and increasingly cruel. As a result, present day media displays the same view of power that Sophocles had; in a way, Sophocles writings have become full circle in our society.
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