The Browning Version by Terence Rattigan
Class 11 Hornbill (English)
CBSE Guide and NCERT Solutions (NCERT Answers)
Understanding the Text
Question 1: Comment on the attitude shown by Taplow towards Crocker-Harris.
Answer: Taplow likes and admires Mr. Crocker-Harris in spite of showing resentment and several things against him. Taplow's attitude towards Crocker-Harris is rather mixed. Taplow recognizes his sense of discipline and devotion to his profession. But he has a grudge against him for calling to do some extra work on the last day of school. He obliges readily to do the extra work so that he would get his 'remove'. He does not want to annoy Mr. Harris although he knows that Mr. Harris will not be impressed even after doing the extra work. He feels that Mr. Harris is a stoic, stubborn and strict person who can never be flattered. He is very much scared of him also. Taplow feels that Mr. Harris knows no mercy and so, no one can extract any concession from him.
Though he imitates Mr. Crocker-Harris and expresses his displeasure regarding the subject and the work, Taplow is very obedient and respectful towards Mr. Harris. He admires Crocker-Harris by describing him as the only teacher who hates people who like or flatter him.
Thus, in spite of expressing resentment and having personal grudge, Taplow cannot help respecting Mr. Harris and his ideals.
Question 2: Does Frank seem to encourage Taplow's comment on Crocker-Harris?
Answer: Yes, Frank certainly encourages Taplow's comment on Crocker-Harris although he pretends to do otherwise. This is evident in the way he encourages Taplow to imitate Crocker-Harris once again. Apparently, he enjoys Mr. Harris being ridiculed by his own student. Frank and Crocker-Harris are teachers in the same school. Frank is jealous of Mr. Crocker-Harris because of the influence and respect Mr. Harris seems to command over his students. Rivalry among colleagues is very uncommon and the same psychology seems to prevail here.
Frank pretends as if disliking any adverse comment against Mr. Harris but cleverly provokes Taplow to speak about him and relishes the boy's comments. There are other instances like, when he incites Taplow to 'cut' as Mr. Harris is late by ten minutes. And when Taplow refuses to go back home, Frank asks him if Harris beats him and other boys. Once he even asks Taplow not to keep Mr. Harris' jokes within and share it.
Thus Frank encourages Taplow's comment on Crocker-Harris and cleverly provokes him to do it again and again while pretending to be otherwise.
Question 3: What do you gather about Crocker-Harris from the play?
(Give a character sketch of Mr. Crocker-Harris from what you have read in the excerpt from ‘The Browning Version’.
Answer: Mr. Crocker-Harris is an ideal teacher who teaches Greek to students of the lower fifth form of the school. His students are afraid of him, yet they love and respect him. They dare not disobey him, knowing very well that obeying Mr. Harris is not going to bring them any reward.
Students admit that he is a devoted teacher who, unlike others does not like to be flattered. He will judge the students only on their merit and not because of any other factor. He may be resented by his students like Taplow for being strict and rigid, yet he is admired and respected by them.
He believes in following the rules of the school. For example, although he knows the results but, unlike other teachers he does not reveal it to the students.
He is very conscious of his duty. Even on the last day and a day before his retirement, he has called Taplow, a student for extra work to compensate for his one absence.
From the play 'The Browning Version' we can say that Mr. Crocker-Harris being a man of principles is also a sincere, honest teacher who has influence, love and respect among his students.