The Browning Version

by Terence Rattigan

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Student Question

Why would you teach "The Browning Version" and what would be the aims?

Expert Answers

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This play is an excellent example of several themes. You could take one or more of the themes and use them to compare or contrast to the themes of another piece of literature, or use other literary elements, such as characters, conflict, and symbols to write about.

The ideas of success and failure define the characters in this play. Andrew is considered a failure by everyone, including himself. You could compare Andrew to Willy Loman in The Death of a Salesman, or even talk about what determines success. To teach students about the importance of generosity, you could use it as an example of how a few moments of generosity change Andrew's life. They could reflect and write about how another person in their own life or in history changed them or someone else due to an unselfish act. Andrew has also given up on himself, and so has everyone else in his life. At first, he feels he's dead inside and accepts whatever happens to him. Andrew doesn't fight back when people humiliate him. Link this theme to the importance of never giving up and why it's important to let no one take away your dignity. This is shown when Andrew confronts the failures of his life at the end.

The relationship of Andrew and Millie, his wife, closely resembles the other piece of literature referred to in the play, Agamemnon. Both plays are about deceived husbands, even though Andrew has known all along about Millie's affair.

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