Q. 1. What do you learn about the system of education in old, British schools from the play, “The Browning Version” ?
Ans. In old British schools stress was laid on the study of classical language–Latin and Greek. Students of the lower fifth were made to learn a classic play like the ‘Agamemnon’. Since the stress was on the acquisition of language, the students found it uninteresting and very unpleasant. They could specialize only after completing fifth form students were ‘kept in’ or called for ‘extra work. ’ They were mortally afraid of a teacher like Mr. Crocker Harris who would abide by rules and show no human feelings. At the same time, the school had teachers who were sadist and others who would break the rules and tell results to the students. Students like Taplow were afraid of headmasters like Mr. Crocker Harris, still they liked him.
Q. 2. What impression do you get of Frank from the play ?
Ans. Frank is a teacher at a good school. The other teacher in the play is Crocker Harris who actually never comes on the stage. We learn about Mr. Harris only from the conversation that goes on between Frank and Taplow. However, when compared to Harris, Frank appears to be a petty person. Frank suffers from envy against Crocker Harris. He provokes Taplow to comment on Harris and enjoys the latter’s imitation of him. However, when he finds Taplow is in awe of Mr. Harris and cannot think of displeasing him, he can’t hide his feelings and admits that he feels envy of him. He has no love for science which he teaches. This shows his dishonesty towards his profession. In short, the character of Frank is a counterfoil of the character of Crocker Harris which shines because of Frank.
Q. 3. Crocker Harris does not appear on the scene yet we know much of him. Explain. (DDE SQP 2)
Ans. Crocker Harris is the main character of the play ‘Browning Version’, He does not make a physical entry throughout the play. The author has presented him indirectly and so perfectly that we get a crystal clear picture of Crocker Harris. There is a young teacher, Frank and his students, Taplow who get into a discussion. Taplow gives details of Crocker Harris and tells him that his teacher is totally different from the other teachers. To the surprise of Frank, Taplow says that Crocker Harris is a man of principles and sticks to rules without getting emotional, angry and prejudiced. He further tells him that Crocker Harris is not a sadist and does not punish students physically, yet students are afraid of him. So, we feel the presence of Crocker Harris, a middle aged teacher who is cool and calm : He is a morally high placed person.
Q. 4. Give a character sketch of Crocker Harris from what you have read from ‘The Browning Version’. Or What impression do you form of Mr. Crocker Harris on the basis of reading the play “The Browning Version” ?
Ans. Crocker Harris is a teacher who teaches Greek to the lower fifth form a good school. He is the incharge of the form and as such he alone knows about the result of the students of his form which are to be officially announced the next day. From Taplow’s comments about Crocker Harris, we learn that he is a teacher who takes his teaching very seriously. We learn that even on the day when he is leaving the school for good, he has called a student for extra work because the said student has missed a day last week. He is the one who doesn’t like to be flattered. He will judge a student only by his merit and not because of any prejudice. It is a tribute to his character that although students like Taplow do not like his severity yet, they love and respect him from the core of their hearts.
Q. 5. “This humorous piece is an extract from a play. ” What according to you make this extract humorous ?
Ans. This play presents a funny situation. Frank, a young science teacher, finds sixteen year old Taplow waiting for his master Mr. Crocker Harris. This lower fifth form student has been asked to come in to do extra work on the last day of the school. Mr. Crocker Harris is leaving the school for good the next day. Being quite busy in settling his own affairs, he has not yet arrived there. Taplow’s fears of adverse remarks about his results make us smile. The interaction between Mr. Frank and Taplow is quite amusing. The young science teacher encourages Taplow’s comment on Crocker Harris. The manner in which Taplow imitates his master’s voice, manner of speaking and diction are quite amusing. The sudden arrival of Millie Crocker Harris in the midst of an imitation of a joke surprise Frank and makes Taplow nervous. Their reactions are quite amusing. Taplow’s unwillingness to leave the place and his fear of consequences in case his master returns before his arrival seems quite genuine but funny. He feels relieved only when Millie offers to take the blame. All these actions seems exaggerated and funny.