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The Browning Version Chapter Sketch
This extract, from the play ‘The Browning Version, highlights the attitude of a teenage student toward his teacher. His comments are shocking because they are very close to the truth. He calls the teacher almost inhuman, though not a sadist. He is mortally afraid of his teacher because his promotion depends on his teacher’s goodwill. When another teacher encourages him, the student becomes franker.
It appears that the teacher was strict and seemed to hate people who like him. This reflects on the teacher’s quality.
The Browning Version Chapter Summary
Mr. Frank Converses with Taplow
The scene of the play is set in a school. The play opens with a sixteen-year-old boy, Taplow, who has been detained by his teacher to compensate for one day’s absence. He is waiting for his teacher, Mr. Crocker-Harris, who has not yet arrived. Another teacher, Frank, finds Taplow waiting in the room and starts talking to him.
Taplow introduces himself and informs him that he is a student in the lower fifth grade. He adds that he would specialize next term if he got promoted. He also tells Frank that Mr. Crocker-Harris does not tell the students their results beforehand like the other teachers. Frank is surprised.
Frank admits that there is a rule that results should be announced on the last day only by the principal but no one follows it. Taplow remarks that only Crocker-Harris follows the rule.
Then Frank asks Taplow which specialization would he take. Taplow readily tells him that he will take science as he is extremely interested in science. Frank tells Taplow that he is not interested in the science he teaches. But Taplow retorts that it must be better than the ‘Agamemnon’ written by Aeschylus. Seeing Frank’s reaction, Taplow clarifies that he likes the plot of the book but not the way it is taught.
Taplow’s Extra Work
Frank thinks that Taplow sounds a little bitter as he has not been promoted. Taplow informs him that he is there for extra work. Frank is more than surprised to hear that Taplow is doing extra work on the last day of the term.
Taplow informs him that he had missed a day of school the previous week due to illness and so Mr Crocker-Harris had asked him to do extra work to make up for that. Mr Frank tries to calm him by telling him that he would certainly get his result the next day for taking extra work. But Taplow feels that such things do not work with Mr Crocker-Harris, as he is not like other teachers who appreciate students who do extra work.
Taplow’s Criticism of Mr. Crocker-Harris
Taplow adds that when he had asked Mr. Crocker-Harris about his result, he had told him that he had given him what he deserved, no less and no more. Taplow feels that Mr. Crocker-Harris would have rather marked him down for doing extra work.
He believes that Mr. Crocker-Harris is hardly human. When he realizes that he had gone too far, he apologizes to Frank. Frank had been listening to Taplow in seriousness and asks Taplow to repeat it. He then gets more serious and asks Taplow to read Aeschylus. When Taplow expresses his dislike, Franks asks Taplow to leave for Crocker-Harris is 10 minutes late.
Frank’s suggestion shocks Taplow. He tells Frank that he wouldn’t do it for the fear of Crocker Harris’s reaction. Frank admits that he envies how students are scared of him. Taplow informs him that Crocker-Harris is not a sadist as he does not beat anyone.
Mr. Crocker-Harris’s Personality
However, Taplow believes that it would have been better if Crocker-Harris were a sadist, as it would mean he had some feelings. He feels that Crocker-Harris hates that people like him. Taplow finds it funny that in spite of all the crankiness, he likes Mr. Crocker-Harris.
He feels that Crocker-Harris knows it but it makes him more, hard and strict.
Taplow recalls an incident when Crocker-Harris made a joke. No one laughed at it as no one understood it. Out of sheer courtesy, Taplow laughed. Instead of understanding his intention, Crocker-Harris asked Taplow to explain the joke to the class for only he could understand advanced Latin.
As this conversation was going on, Millie Crocker-Harris entered the scene unnoticed.
Millie Crocker-Harris Brings Relief to Taplow
Millie Crocker-Harris, Crocker-Harris’ wife, is a thin woman in her late thirties. She is smartly dressed, unlike other schoolmasters’ wives. Taplow was still imitating Crocker-Harris when Frank noticed her and suddenly broke off. Taplow gets scared and asks Mr. Frank if Millie Crocker-Harris could have heard their conversation.
Mr. Frank thinks that she did. Taplow fears that if she tells anything to Mr. Crocker-Harris, then he will surely not get promoted.
Millie Crocker-Harris asks Taplow if he was waiting for her husband. She further informs him that her husband is busy at the Bursar’s and might get late. She asks him to leave. Taplow is doubtful and says Mr. Crocker-Harris had particularly asked him to come.
She tells him that she will take the blame and advises him to go away for a quarter of an hour. Taplow is scared if so, she gives him a prescription and sends him to the chemist to get it filled. Convinced, Taplow accepts the proposal and leaves.
The given page numbers correspond to the pages in the prescribed NCERT textbook.
|a short extract from a piece of writing|
got carried away
|got excited and lost control|
cut go away
|sadist||person who gets pleasure from inflicting pain or|
suffering on others
|all shrivelled up||having no feelings|
shrivel him up
|reduce his feelings|
|general run||normal group|
|cape||a shawl or stole|
|frantically||in a hurried way|
|It made up||prepare or put together|
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