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"House" Calls: The Metaphors of Dr. Gregory House (page two)


Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House in "House, M.D."

© courtesy Andrew Macpherson/FOX

At other times the House metaphor is nothing more than a comic exercise in doctor-patient incivility. Once, after discovering that a young man had attempted self-circumcision with a utility knife, House snapped, "Stop talking. I'm going to get a plastic surgeon. To get the Twinkie back in the wrapper."

Living Metaphors

Of course, House himself is a walking, or rather limping metaphor--his crippled leg an emblem of his deformed spirit. And his acerbic metaphorical remarks may be read as symptoms of an undiagnosed malady:

  • No, there is not a thin line between love and hate. There is, in fact, a Great Wall of China with armed sentries posted every twenty feet between love and hate.
    ("Occam's Razor")

  • Dr. Wilson: Beauty often seduces us on the road to truth.
    Dr. House: And triteness kicks us in the nads.
    ("Occam's Razor")

  • Lies are a tool: they can be used either for good or--no, wait, I've got a better one. Lies are like children: hard work, but they're worth it because the future depends on them.
    ("It's A Wonderful Lie")

  • Dr. House: Nothing matters. We're all just cockroaches, wildebeests dying on the river bank. Nothing we do has any lasting meaning.
    Evan Greer: And you think I'm miserable?
    Dr. House: If you're unhappy on the plane, jump out of it.
    Evan Greer: I want to, but I can't.
    Dr. House: That's the problem with metaphors. They need interpretation. Jumping out of the plane is stupid.
    Evan Greer: But what if I'm not in a plane? What if I'm just in a place I don't want to be?
    Dr. House: That's the other problem with metaphors. Yes, what if you're actually in an ice cream truck, and outside are candy and flowers and virgins? You're on a plane! We're all on planes. Life is dangerous and complicated, and it's a long way down.
    ("Living the Dream")

  • You know me. Hostility makes me shrink up like a . . .. I can’t think of a non-sexual metaphor.

  • You know it's all nice when people start to dig these holes, but then they start to live in these holes and get angry when someone pushes dirt into those holes. Come out of your holes, people!
    ("House vs. God")

  • Dr. House: I'm a night owl, Wilson's an early bird. We're different species.
    Dr. Cuddy: Then move him into his own cage.
    Dr. House: Who'll clean the droppings from mine?
    ("Sleeping Dogs Lie")

Every now and then, however, House finds himself on the wrong side of a metaphor, as in this exchange with a young patient:

Dr. House: Are you going to base your whole life on who you're stuck in a room with?
Eve the Patient: I'm going to base this moment on who I am stuck in a room with! It's what life is. It's a series of rooms, and who we get stuck in those rooms with, adds up to what our lives are.
("One Day, One Room")

And how does House respond to the woman's metaphor? As he must, by silently--and literally--walking out of the room.

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