What the relevance of the title The Browning Version within the story?

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The significance of the title The Browning Version is substantial in this story.

As this is a story exploring questions about personal choice as it relates to identity, personality and profession, the notion of an “original” and “alternate” version of a translation created by the Browning, the protagonist, is highly significant.


This Browning Version demonstrates the idea that Browning was once a very different person. Circumstances changed him, and perhaps dictated his life as much as his personality. This is, of course, a fact of the story which emerges in opposition to the impression that Browning’s character makes on everyone.


His students believe that he acts as he does because it is part of his natural character, but the story leads us to the realization that this is not true. He acts the way he does because of the history of his character, not the nature of his personality.


Seen in this context, the Browning Version becomes symbolic of the central question of the play – Is it too late for Browning to recover the lost version of himself or is there still time to assert his natural character?