House of Cards is a marvelous political thriller written by British writer Michael Dobbs. The antihero of House of Cards is Francis Urquhart, a fictional Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, The plot follows his amoral and manipulative scheme to become leader of the governing party and, thus, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
The fiction was soon adapted into several TV series and in recent years, it has been translated into different languages, including Chinese. If we take a look at the latest edition of House of Cards, it isn’t hard to find out that the author have made some changes based on his first edition, which include the ending of the whole story. In the first edition, Francis, the antihero who had conducted numerous cruel and amoral crimes during his process of becoming Prime Minister, when facing the accusation from a young journalist who knew everything about his insidious scheme, flinched from his lust of power and committed suicide for fear of the truth being exposed. While in Chinese and some other translated edition, the author portrayed a Francis who is even crueler and more indulgent in his wild ambition of becoming the Prime Minister. That version of story ends with he pushing the young journalist down from the parliament building and finally becoming the Prime Minister.
So it is understandable for us to wonder why author made such a change and which one is better. From my perspective I think both made sense. Francis was desperate to reach the throne, while just like building a house of cards, the closer you are approaching to the success, the harder for you to keep a tensed nerve. When it comes to killing someone, the nature of humanity, the morality will scream inside your heart, and no matter how strong your desire is to reach your purpose or how cold blood you are, the thought of shrinking back will emerge in your mind. Francis practices all kinds of approaches to get rid of his political rivals, but there was a moment of hesitation (Or weakness, as Francis called it himself) when he was about to drug his scapegoat Roger O’ Neal. He could’ t resist his hand from shaking although he would’ t face the victim when he died, which made it understandable that in the author’ s original conception Francis dared not to kill the young journalist to hide the truth.
However, the author chose to change the final fates of his characters after the first publication of the novel. In the new version, when Francis finally learned that Mattie, the young journalist knew every plots of his scheme, he killed her for forever peace. We see a Francis who is crueler, greedier, who would wipe everyone that blocked his way from reaching the throne out. He embodies every viciousness we could find on a cold blood politician. Compared with the first edition, the author deliberately added some exaggeration to magnify the cheats and injustice which had been existed in British political system for so long. He portrayed this vicious politician to demonstrate that before the tempt of power, man can give up everything including morality, justice even humanity. In the rivalry of seeking power, The nobility and conscience is just a fake mask worn by everyone, behind which plots and intrigues are schemed in everybody’ s mind.
I can’ t tell which ending is better. Personally I prefer the original one, as we always hope a story can has a happy ending where justice will defeat evil. Certainly we won’ t support someone who is so vicious like Francis to be our Leader, But when considering the fact that Michael Dobbs, the author of House Of Cards, had a political career before becoming a writer, we can’ t help believing that perhaps the opposite is always the truth, cheating and plotting is common in politics where no one survives.
About 400 years ago, the great Renaissance writer William Shakespeare portrayed a classical figure who was also bent on seizing power. The failure of Macbeth remind us that the lure of power can distort a integral heart into being bad. However after 400 years, Macbeth still exist in our society, lusting for power, and daring to take any approach to get it.