Door Mats and Matadors: What Frank Underwood Taught Me about Writing

The new season of House of Cards was released on Valentine’s Day, marking the return of the duplicitous Frank Underwood on his quest for power. In the first episode of the new season, after assuming the vice presidency, Frank states:

“There are two types of vice presidents: Door mats and matadors. Which do you think I intend to be?”

This quote, although powerful and threatening in the context of the show, is extremely applicable to the composition of argumentative essays. Like Frank Underwood, writers need to be strategic, meticulous, and prepared to take on any opposition.

Before even beginning, careful planning is necessary in order to be persuasive. It is important to create a well-focused argument, based on points of inquiry or research that will help guide your writing. In the prewriting phase, consider several facets of the argument, and choose to focus on the strongest, most supportive points. Any questions you may ask at this stage should be able to be answered in your paper eventually.

But, perhaps, the most important part of creating an argument is considering the antithesis of your points. Over-generalizing or making assumptions about your reader can lead to the downfall of your argument, even if you are passionate about the subject.

When you’re writing your paper, you are like a whip in the House of Representatives. Your reader may be easy to persuade, or they could have motives for discrediting your argument at every turn. Frank Underwood is never unprepared while whipping congress for votes. Being able to leverage the antithesis of your argument for the benefit of your overall point is one of the most effective ways to convince your argument that your point is valid.

However, it is also important not to come off as deceptive or manipulative. It is important to take effective preparation to execute your points, but if your argument is not effectively supported by provable points and factual evidence, your reader will begin to question your motives. As duplicitous as Frank Underwood can be sometimes, he also knows that facts are essential in persuasion. Having hard, supporting evidence will only further demonstrate your knowledge, and give you authority to speak on the subject.

So grab a plate of ribs, go for a run, and channel Frank Underwood before drafting your latest argumentative essay. Although he can be duplicitous, he is rarely unprepared. Be in control of your argument. Be the matador, not the door mat.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • kateflom says:

    I think I am making this blog post (and the entire second season of House of Cards) required reading (viewing) for my current WRD104 class!