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The Browning Version

Objectives
• Character of Crocker Harris
• Character of Taplow

2 marks
Where did Taplow meet Frank?
Taplow had been given an extra work to do by Mr. Crocker Harris. He was waiting
for the master in the school. Frank also came there and met Taplow.

What subjects does Taplow want to opt for? Why?


Taplow feels if his grades are good he would opt for science. He feels science is more
interesting than the study of classics.

What do you learn about Taplow from the initial conversation between him and
Mr. Frank?
Taplow is a boy of sixteen. He is still in the lower fifth. Mr. Crocker- Harris has not
told him the result so he will have to wait till the next day to learn about his fate.

What is Taplow’s opinion about the Greek tragedy ‘Agamemnon’?


Taplow calls the Greek tragedy ‘Agamemnon’ as muck. He is annoyed at the way it
was taught to them, just a lot of Greek words strung together. However he feels that
the plot of the play is good.

What does Frank call ‘bad luck’?


The weather was fine and Taplow wanted to go and play golf but he dared not defy
Mr. Crocker-Harris. Frank considers Taplow’s situation ‘bad luck’ for him.

Why would Taplow not get any ‘comfort’ as mentioned by Mr. Frank?
Mr. Crocker-Harris gave no benefit to his students for being good boys in taking up
extra work. He gave marks as per the performance and not for doing any extra work.

Which rule did Mr. Crocker Harris follow strictly which many teachers flouted?
The rule was that form results should only be announced by the headmaster on the last
day of the term. No one but Mr. Crocker- Harris paid attention to this rule.

What does Mr. Frank suggest Taplow to do because Mr. Crocker Harris is ten
minutes late?
Frank asked Taplow not to wait for Mr. Crocker Harris and play golf but Taplow is
really shocked and is afraid that Mr. Crocker Harris may follow him home or do
something else.

Why does Mr. Frank envy Mr. Crocker Harris?


Mr. Frank envies Mr. Crocker Harris for the effect he has on the boys in the form. Mr.
Crocker Harris does not tell the results before they are officially announced. And in
spite of making students take extra work they still like Mr. Crocker Harris.

How does Mr. Crocker Harris differ from other masters in his reactions towards
others?
Mr. Crocker Harris did not get pleasure out of giving pain. He was not a sadist. In fact
he had no feelings. He was all dry like a nut. He seemed to hate the idea of people
liking him.
Who is a sadist? Why is Taplow afraid of Mr. Crocker Harris even though the
latter is not a sadist?
A sadist is a person who gets pleasure while inflicting pain on others. Taplow says
that he would not be so frightened of Mr. Crocker Harris if he were a sadist. He would
at least show his feelings. Mr. Crocker Harris was indifferent and was like a nut.

Which incident does Taplow narrate to prove the fact that Crocker Harris does
not like ‘being liked’?
Taplow narrates the incident about one day when Mr. Crocker Harris made one of his
classical jokes in the class which no one understood. Taplow laughed out of
politeness. Instead of feeling thankful, Mr. Crocker Harris asked Taplow to explain
the joke to the class. This incident proved that Mr. Crocker Harris did not like ‘being
liked’.

What is Taplow’s attitude towards Mr. Crocker Harris?


Taplow is respectful towards Mr. Crocker Harris and likes him even though he is
afraid of him and dare not cut the extra work even on the last day of the term.

Does Frank seem to encourage Taplow’s comments on Crocker Harris?


Frank encourages Taplow to comment on Mr. Crocker Harris by cleverly asking
Taplow several questions. He appreciated Taplow’s imitation of Mr. Crocker Harris
and also asks him to repeat it.

Who was Millie Crocker Harris? What was she like?


Millie Crocker Harris was the young wife of Mr. Crocker Harris. She was a thin
woman in her late 30s. She was more smartly dressed than the other school masters’
wives.

How does Millie Crocker Harris send Taplow away?


On seeing Taplow, Millie Crocker Harris points out that her husband was at the
Bursar’s so he could go away for a quarter of an hour. But Taplow does not move.
Millie assures him that she would take the blame. She takes out a prescription and
requests him to bring some medicines from the chemist for her.

How does Taplow react to Millie’s arrival?


Taplow is nervous. He is unable to control his emotions and whispers to Frank if he
thinks she has heard their conversation. Taplow feels that if she tells Mr. Crocker
Harris, he would lose his form.

What is the meaning of ‘Cut’? Why is Taplow unable to ‘Cut’?


‘Cut’ means to run away and play truant from the extra class. Taplow is unable to
play truant because he feels Mr. Crocker Harris would follow him home or do
something more.

What do you gather about Mr. Frank from the play?


Mr. Frank is a young science teacher. He does not like the subject he teaches. He also
admits that he tells the result to the students before it is officially announced by the
head master. He feels envious of Crocker Harris because Taplow likes him.

10 marks
The humorous piece is an extract from a play. What according to you makes the
play humorous?
The play ‘The Browning Version’ depicts an extraordinary and interesting situation.
Frank, a young science teacher finds 16 year old Taplow waiting for his senior
teacher, Mr. Crocker Harris. The lower fifth form students have been asked to do
extra assignments on the last day of the term. Mr. Harris is leaving the school for
good the next day. Being quite busy in organizing his own affairs, he has not yet
arrived there. Taplow fears about adverse remarks on his results. This makes us smile.
The interaction between Frank and Taplow is quite amusing and entertaining. Mr.
Frank encourages Taplow to comment on Crocker Harris. The manner in which
Taplow imitates his teacher’s voice, mannerisms and diction, is a source of humour.
The sudden arrival of Mrs. Crocker Harris in the midst of an imitation of joke
surprises Frank and makes Taplow nervous. Their reactions are quite funny. Taplow’s
reluctance to leave the place and his fears of consequences of his master’s return seem
amusing. He feels relieved only when Mrs. Harris offers to take the blame. All the
comments on the eccentricities of the characters of the play evoke humour in the play.

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