Article / History / Tim McGovern

House of Cards: The Original Shakespearean Play

We all know that House of Cards was based on the English version on the BBC, but what you don’t know is that it was loosely based on the Shakespearean play. Here’s part of the transcript!

ACT I
SCENE I.
A dog whimpers. Sir Francis Underhill enters with a Watchmen.

SIR FRANCIS UNDERHILL
Oh what a piteous and doeful sight
This cur is most injuriously struck.
The car that hit him made its flight
and now this dog be truly out of luck.
The master to this pet you must find hence.

WATCHMEN
Anon I fly to search through all town George!

The Watchmen exits.

SIR FRANCIS UNDERHILL
There doth be two spheres of mortal strife:
The type that maketh its victim more strong,
and the kind that rendereth him all too
immutably useless, like a lute cut
of all her strings save one, which plucked
doth mourn the loss of those severed twines.
Of these two pangs allow but one, the first.
The other be profitless and little use to me.

Sir Francis Underhill strangles the dog.

SIR FRANCIS UNDERHILL
A villainous sly dog I be, far more
Abase and foam-mouthed than this slain pelt.
Aye, for though I be the creature walked ‘til now,
My teeth are sharpened, nostrils flared to pounce
Upon my master, President Walker,
Who hies thee hither post haste to give
Me news of my advancement far too due
For gaining him that lofty throne he sits.
But lo, what’s this? His vain and vacantly
Vizier, Vasquez he sends instead.

The President’s Vizier Vasquez enters.

VASQUEZ
How now?
When last we talked, I promised thee a post.

SIR FRANCIS UNDERHILL
A post, but not an office of the Post.

They laugh for no one wants to work in the Post Office.

VASQUEZ
Tut tut, you jest as well as any sot.
Thou know’st I speak of Secretary State.

SIR FRANCIS UNDERHILL
A lofty office to accept as sought.

VASQUEZ
Our newly ‘nointed lord wants thee to stay
In thy present position. Fare thee well!

Vasquez exits.

SIR FRANCIS UNDERHILL
A woe betides me! No matter to me!
I’ll uncouch him from his throne of lies,
Swiftly as I launched him, swiftly
Shall he fall. Lo! Tis time to eat some ribs.

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