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Rattigan’s play “The Browning Version“ is accompanied by the fear of loss or at least by fear itself during the whole act. One fear leads to another fear as for example the fear of failing of Mr. Crocker-Harris leads to the fact that he refuses to change his teaching due to the fear of to could fail again. One can assume that throughout the whole play a vicious cricle is controlling the whole people’s motivation of their acting and interacting.
To start with, Mr. Crocker-Harris, as already said, is afraid of failing and as he is concerned that he exactly did so he refuses to change and ignores his surrounding which leads or already has led to his wife, Millie, cheating on him with Frank Hunter. Mr. Crocker-Harris is dreaded by all other pupils except for Taplow.
Taplow is the only one who really thinks Mr. Crocker-Harris to be deep inside a nice person. He considers him to be a great teacher.
Millie Crocker-Harris fears to be lonely and therefore tries to manipulate people which leads to her total lonelyness. She is very unhappy with her husband and blaimes him for her unsuccessful and unhappy marriage. She is in love with Frank Hunter, another teacher, who is far much younger than her husband and who himself is not in love with her. In the end she loses both, her husband and Frank, because of Frank finding out her to be the deepest cruelty. Taplow fears not getting his remove and therefore has to do extra work with Mr.
He is the only pupil, who does not fear Mr. Crocker-Harris and actually thinks that he is a nice teacher and man. Reading the play, I felt very sorry for Mr. Crocker-Harris because he seems to be caught in his own depression. It seems to be a vicious circle he cannot get over. Unlike I felt with Millie. To be honest, I really wished her to suffer because she not even grants her husband some great feeling just because of her own misery. Once her husband gets the feeling that somebody really likes him she immediately destroys it because she could not see her husband being happy while she is not. She blames him for her pitiful life. In one scene she confronts him with the fact, that she married him to make him providing her a good life.
She reproaches him for having failed because from now on she has to care about both of them although this task was up to him. Watching the movie my impression of Millie being cruel grew. She has that cruel expression on her face that made me hate her or at least not to sympathize with her. In the movie the scene where she tells Mr. Crocker-Harris that Taplow just made him a present to make sure he would be promoted was quite different from the same scene in the play. In the movie she spoils his feeling of beeing liked by Taplow in front of all other teachers at a cricket play whereas in the play she just destroyed his happyness in front of Frank. This fact makes her more disrespectful and brutal in the movie than in the film.
Frank on the contrary seems to be more to be liked in the play. In the play he was angry with Millie after she made fun out of her husband and he broke up with her because he finally realized her being cruel. But in contrast in the movie it did not seem so. He seemed not to consider her as the true cruelty in person as in the play. Relating to the sympathy or antipathy there are shown a lot of differences contrasting the play to the movie. In the play I liked that at the beginning one gets the impression of Mr. Crocker-Harris beeing the “bad guy“ but during the play this impression changes and Millie becomes the “bad guy“.
And although almost at the beginning one does not sympathize with Frank. He betrays Mr. Crocker-Harris as he is the affair of Millie. But as he is breaking up with Millie and is telling her that she is the true cruelty one rather begins to like him. In the film as soon as you see the faces oft he actors you feel pity with all of them. At leats I did so. Mr. Crocker-Harris had this expression of sadness in his eyes and Milly the expression of complete desperation. Whereas the whole play is filled with betrayal, fear and cruelty, in the play as well as in the movie, Taplow is the only segment that brings back a little harmony to the play.
As long as you think bad of Mr. Crocker-Harris, Taplow makes you feel sympathy for him. First he talks about Mr. Crocker-Harris in a good way, then he makes him a present, and at the end he repeats his sympathy for Mr. Crocker-Harris in a conversation with other pupils. Which I liked most is the fact that one can say that Rattigan’s play could really have happendend in real life due to the strict and high requirements at British schools. One gets an impression of British schools and of their attitudes towards eduction. Further more I liked the fact that you have to look behind the surface of each character.
If you just observe all the characters of the play in a superficial way you may not feel sympathy for any of them. Superficially seen, all of them have their bad sides and the readers and spectators first of all get to know to these aspects. But if they get into the whole story, everything changes and they may think about the reasons for the characters being like they are. If you compare this play to your real life you must admit that maybe in your environment there happened something similiar or you know a person who exactly is like one oft he characters in the play.
And then you have your own reasons why this person, although the person seems to be bad or cruel, is a person who nonetheless deserves to be loved. It is highly impressive how the reader and spectator can feel the single character’s fear. The fear of each character is present throughout the whole story – both in the film and in the drama.
The fear grows and grows and at the end there arises a feeling of relief and the reader or spectator feels happy in favour of each character. After having read the drama and having watched the filmversion I can say that I liked the play, because it made me think of both, the positive side of the single character and the negative sides as well as their reason to be so. This in turn made me either feel pitty for them or feel a lack of understanding.
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