Welcome to Dissecting House: a blog dedicated to the television show House MD, where analytical reviews of season 8 episodes are posted weekly.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Dissecting The Housian Heart

The human heart has four chambers.

I took those four chambers and assigned a label to each one: The Self, Family, Friends, Romantic Love. In order for the heart to function it must pump blood through each chamber. This in turns sends enough oxygen around the body, and of course to the brain.

House is most used to functioning with one full chamber, The Self, and a steady trickle through another, Friends, in the form of Wilson (and Cuddy in the past). During the first half of Season 7, his Housian heart began to resemble that of a happy, fully functioning human being (if such a thing exists).

His relationship with Cuddy and with Rachel filled two chambers that do not usually see much activity, Romantic Love, and even more notable, Family. We saw House's relationship with Rachel particularly blossom during Carrot or Stick. They bonded primarily because of her uncanny ability to lie. House's warped sense of boyfriend duty led him to coach Rachel into trying to get into nursery school. It was actually a very touching episode to watch. His heart began to alter, less of The Self...that doesn't mean his actions were entirely selfless, but it does mean that he was aware of another person's feelings and desires.

The more the chambers are devoid of blood, the less oxygen goes to the brain. In a metaphorical sense, it is a darker state of being, everything is more abstract, less clear. For House, having all the chambers full, hightened his sense of The Self. He focused on every detail, terrified that he would not meet expectations. His mistrust of happiness meant that he was constantly on edge, skeptical and preparing himself for failure and disaster. Arguably, this in turn made him (subconsciously) sabotage his relationship with Cuddy. He took Vicodin to cope with his feelings and to prove that he could be there for her. But I believe he knew, deep down, that she would eventually find out. Cuddy reached a breaking point she previously thought she could overcome. Both were to blame and yet neither were to blame. It was inevitable in my opinion. When the break-up came it destroyed him, but it was not unexpected. Heartbreaking.

House often has incomparable vision when he is in a 'dark' state, he sees the light so to say, he sees clearly. An oxymoron yes, but very Housian. He thrives in his state of perpetual misery. That's not to say that he enjoys being miserable, but merely that he can depend upon it. Happiness is a difficult concept, often fleeting and ever-changing.

The Housian heart works at its best in a concentrated state of The Self . He is not incapable of love, that is clear. However, House gave Cuddy a part of him when he said "I'd choose you", and thus he lost a part of himself. It's not uncommon to compromise in a relationship, but when he chose her over medicine, he gave her his heart which usurped his mind. That's why he is so enraged when he sees the patient in 'After Hours' doing exactly the same thing, choosing love over the mind. Because a person's heart is often in the hands of another, whereas the mind is controlled by the self.

House is left heartbroken. His heart had begun to resemble a 'normal' human heart (in the metaphorical sense). In jail his shattered, shrunken heart will begin to mend, slowly, with the passing of time. But a Housian heart will grow once more; a mistrusting heart, with one chamber more enlarged than the others. House is back to self-preservation.

1 comment:

  1. (Clarification: I am not implying that having all chambers full will necessarily make a person happy, or that it should be the goal in life. I merely use the metaphor as a society instated guideline of what should make a person happy for the purposes of comparison with the Housian heart.)