NCERT Class 11 English The Browning Version

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The Browning Version

This is an excerpt from The Browning Version*. The scene is set in a school. Frank is young and Crocker-Harris, middle-aged. Both are masters. Taplow is a boy of sixteen who has come in to do extra work for Crocker-Harris. But the latter has not yet arrived, and Frank finds Taplow waiting.

FRANK: Do I know you?

TAPLOW: No, sir.

FRANK: What’s your name?

TAPLOW: Taplow.

FRANK: Taplow! No, I don’t. You’re not a scientist I gather?

TAPLOW: No, sir, I’m still in the lower fifth. I can’t specialise until next term — that’s to say, if I’ve got my remove all right.

FRANK: Don’t you know if you’ve got your remove?

TAPLOW: No sir, Mr Crocker-Harris doesn’t tell us the results like the other masters.

FRANK: Why not?

TAPLOW: Well, you know what he’s like, sir.

FRANK: I believe there is a rule that form results should only be announced by the headmaster on the last day of term.

TAPLOW: Yes — but who else pays attention to it — exceptMr Crocker-Harris?

FRANK: I don’t, I admit — but that’s no criterion. So you’ve got to wait until tomorrow to know your fate, have you?

TAPLOW: Yes, sir.

FRANK: Supposing the answer is favourable — what then?

TAPLOW: Oh — science, sir, of course.

FRANK: (sadly) Yes. We get all the slackers.

TAPLOW: (protestingly) I’m extremely interested in science, sir.

FRANK: Are you? I’m not. Not, at least, in the science I have to teach.

TAPLOW: Well, anyway, sir, it’s a good deal more exciting than this muck (indicating his book)

FRANK: What is this muck?

TAPLOW: Aeschylus, sir. The Agamemnon.

FRANK: And your considered view is that the Agamemnon is muck?

TAPLOW: Well, no, sir. I don’t think the play is muck — exactly. I suppose, in a way, it’s rather a good

plot, really, a wife murdering her husband and all that. I only meant the way it’s taught to us — just a lot of Greek words strung together and fifty linesif you get them wrong.

FRANK: You sound a little bitter, Taplow.

TAPLOW: I am rather, sir.

FRANK: Kept in, eh?

TAPLOW: No, sir. Extra work.

FRANK: Extra work — on the last day of school?

TAPLOW: Yes, sir, and I might be playing golf. You’d think he’d have enough to do anyway himself, considering he’s leaving tomorrow for good — but oh no, I missed a day last week when I was ill — so here I am — and look at the weather, sir.

FRANK: Bad luck. Still there’s one comfort. You’re pretty well certain to get your remove tomorrow for being a good boy in taking extra work.

TAPLOW: Well, I’m not so sure, sir. That would be true of the ordinary masters, all right. They just wouldn’t dare not to give a chap a remove after his taking extra work. But those sort of rules don’t apply to the Crock — Mr Crocker-Harris. I asked him yesterday outright if he’d given me a remove and do you know what he said, sir?

FRANK: No. What?

TAPLOW: (imitating a very gentle, rather throaty voice) “My dear Taplow, I have given you exactly what you deserve. No less; and certainly no more.” Do you know sir, I think he may have marked me down, rather than up, for taking extra work. I mean, the man’s hardly human. (He breaks off quickly.) Sorry, sir. Have I gone too far?

FRANK: Yes. Much too far.

TAPLOW: Sorry, sir. I got carried away.

FRANK: Evidently. (He picks up a newspaper and opens it) — Er Taplow.

TAPLOW: Yes, sir?

FRANK: What was that Crocker-Harris said to you? Just — er — repeat it, would you?

TAPLOW: (imitating again) “My dear Taplow, I have given you exactly what you deserve. No less; and certainly no more.”

FRANK: (looking severe) Not in the least like him. Read your nice Aeschylus and be quiet.

TAPLOW: (with dislike) Aeschylus.

Understanding the text

1. Comment on the attitude shown by Taplow towards Crocker-Harris.

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

3. What do you gather about Crocker-Harris from the play?

Talking about the text

Discuss with your partners

1. Talking about teachers among friends.

2. The manner you adopt when you talk about a teacher to other teachers.

3. Reading plays is more interesting than studying science. Working with words

A sadist is a person who gets pleasure out of giving pain to others. Given below are some dictionary definitions of certain kinds of persons. 

Find out the words that fit these descriptions.

1. A person who considers it very important that things should be correct or genuine e.g. in the use of language or in the arts: P...

2. A person who believes that war and violence are wrong and will not fight in a war: P...

3. A person who believes that nothing really exists: N...

4. A person who is always hopeful and expects the best in all things: O...

5. A person who follows generally accepted norms of behaviour: C...

6. A person who believes that material possessions are all that matter in life: M...

Please refer to attached file for NCERT Class 11 English The Browning Version



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