“The Browning Version” is a play written by Terence Rattigan that tells the story of a middle-aged school teacher named Andrew Crocker-Harris. Crocker-Harris is a disillusioned and unhappy man who has been teaching classics at a boys’ school for many years. He is widely respected by his colleagues, but is unloved by his students and has a strained relationship with his wife.
The play opens on the day of Crocker-Harris’ retirement, and as he says goodbye to the school, he is given a copy of the “Browning Version” – a translation of Aeschylus’ play “Agamemnon” – by one of his students as a farewell gift. This small act of kindness touches Crocker-Harris deeply, and he begins to reflect on his life and the choices he has made.
Throughout the play, Crocker-Harris is visited by several characters who help shed light on his past and present circumstances. His wife, Millie, is revealed to be having an affair with a fellow teacher, and their relationship is further strained when Crocker-Harris discovers this. He also has an encounter with his former student, Taplow, who reveals that the other students did not respect Crocker-Harris because they could see that he was unhappy in his own life.
As the play progresses, Crocker-Harris begins to see the beauty and meaning in the “Browning Version,” and this newfound appreciation of literature helps him to come to terms with the mistakes he has made in his own life. He finally finds a sense of peace and closure as he moves towards a new chapter in his life.
“The Browning Version” is a poignant and thought-provoking play that explores themes of loneliness, regret, and the search for meaning in life. Through the character of Crocker-Harris, Rattigan shows how even the most respected and successful individuals can still feel unfulfilled and disconnected from the world around them. The play is a powerful reminder of the importance of finding meaning and purpose in life, and of the transformative power of art and literature.
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