The Browning Version

Millie Crocker-Harris Character Analysis

Millie is Andrew’s younger wife who over the years has grown increasingly bitter towards her husband. She maintains an air of gracious civility with all who visit their apartment but treats Andrew with callous hatred whenever the two are alone. She is having an affair with Frank Hunter, and expresses her love for him despite knowing that his feelings are not as strong. In a deliberate attempt to hurt Andrew, she dismisses Taplow’s gift of The Agamemnon (in Robert Browning’s translation) as a cynical attempt to win Andrew’s favor. Millie resents Andrew for many reasons. She views him as a failure, who failed to capitalize on his early promise in life. She is angry with Andrew for meekly accepting the school governors’ decision not to grant him a pension and, more generally, with his inability to provide for her financially. At the end of the play she informs Andrew that she will not go with him to his new employment, strongly suggesting that their marriage has come to an end. In a rare show of strength, Andrew dismisses what she says with indifference, rather than allow it to hurt him.

Millie Crocker-Harris Quotes in The Browning Version

The The Browning Version quotes below are all either spoken by Millie Crocker-Harris or refer to Millie Crocker-Harris. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Personal Success and Failure Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Nick Hern Books edition of The Browning Version published in 2008.
The Browning Version Quotes

FRANK: Possibly not. He ought never to have become a school master, really. Why did he?

MILLIE: It was his vocation, he said. He was sure he'd make a big success of it, especially when he got his job here first go off. (Bitterly) Fine success he’s made, hasn’t he?

FRANK: You should have stopped him.

MILLIE: How was I to know? He talked about getting a house, then a headmastership.

FRANK: The Crock a headmaster! That’s a pretty thought.

MILLIE: Yes, it’s funny to think of it now, all right. Still he wasn’t always the Crock, you know. He had a bit more gumption once. At least I thought he had. Don’t let's talk any more about him – it’s too depressing.

FRANK: I’m sorry for him.

MILLIE: (Indifferently.) He's not sorry for himself, so why should you be? It’s me you should be sorry for.

Related Characters: Millie Crocker-Harris (speaker), Frank Hunter (speaker), Andrew Crocker-Harris
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:
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MILLIE: The mean old brutes! My God, what I wouldn’t like to say to them! (Rounding on ANDREW.) And what did you say? Just sat there and made a joke in Latin, I suppose?

ANDREW: There wasn’t very much I could say, in Latin or any other language.

MILLIE: Oh, wasn’t there? I’d have said it all right. I wouldn’t just have sat there twiddling my thumbs and taking it from that old phoney of a headmaster. But then, of course, I’m not a man.

ANDREW is turning the pages of the Agamemnon, not looking at her.

What do they expect you to do? Live on my money, I suppose.

ANDREW: There has never been any question of that. I shall be perfectly able to support myself.

MILLIE: Yourself? Doesn’t the marriage service say something about the husband supporting his wife? Doesn’t it? You ought to know?

Related Characters: Andrew Crocker-Harris (speaker), Millie Crocker-Harris (speaker), Dr. Frobisher
Related Symbols: The Agamemnon
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

GILBERT: (Brusquely.) Darling. The Crocker–Harrises, I'm sure, have far more important things to do than to listen to your detailed but inaccurate account of our very sordid little encounter. Why not just say I married you for your money and leave it at that? Come on, we must go.

MRS. GILBERT: (To MILLIE.) Isn’t he awful to me?

MILLIE: Men have no souls, my dear. My husband is just as bad.

Related Characters: Millie Crocker-Harris (speaker), Peter Gilbert (speaker), Mrs. Gilbert (speaker), Andrew Crocker-Harris
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Pause. MILLIE laughs suddenly.

MILLIE: The artful little beast –

FRANK: (Urgently.) Millie –

ANDREW: Artful? Why artful?

MILLIE looks at FRANK who is staring meaningly at her.

Why artful, Millie?

MILLIE laughs again, quite lightly, and turns from FRANK to ANDREW.

MILLIE: My dear, because I came into this room this afternoon to find him giving an imitation of you to Frank here. Obviously he was scared stiff I was going to tell you, and you’d ditch his remove or something. I don't blame him for trying a few bobs’ worth of appeasement.

Related Characters: Andrew Crocker-Harris (speaker), Millie Crocker-Harris (speaker), Frank Hunter (speaker), John Taplow
Related Symbols: The Agamemnon
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

FRANK: (With a note of real repulsion in his voice.) Millie! My God! How could you?

MILLIE: Well, why not? Why should he be allowed his comforting little illusions? I’m not.

Related Characters: Millie Crocker-Harris (speaker), Frank Hunter (speaker), Andrew Crocker-Harris
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

ANDREW: You see, my dear Hunter, she is really quite as much to be pitied as I. We are both of us interesting subjects for your microscope. Both of us needing from the other something that would make life supportable for us, and neither of us able to give it. Two kinds of love. Hers and mine. Worlds apart, as I know now, though when I married her I didn’t think they were incompatible. In those days I hadn’t thought that her kind of love – the love she requires and which I was unable to give her – was so important that its absence would drive out the other kind of love – the kind of love that I require and which I thought, in my folly, was by far the greater part of love. I may have been, you see, Hunter, a brilliant classical scholar, but I was woefully ignorant of the facts of life. I know better now, of course. I know that in both of us, the love that we should have borne each other has turned to bitter hatred. That's all the problem is. Not a very unusual one, I venture to think – nor nearly as tragic as you seem to imagine. Merely the problem of an unsatisfied wife and a henpecked husband. You’ll find it all over the world. It is usually, I believe, a subject for farce. And now, if you have to leave us, my dear fellow, please don’t let me detain you any longer.

Related Characters: Andrew Crocker-Harris (speaker), Millie Crocker-Harris, Frank Hunter
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

MILLIE: He’s coming to Bradford. He’s not going to you.

ANDREW: The likeliest contingency is, that he’s not going to either of us. Shall we have dinner?

MILLIE: He’s coming to Bradford.

ANDREW: I expect so. Oh, by the way, I’m not. I shall be staying here until I go to Dorset.

MILLIE: (Indifferently.) Suit yourself – what makes you think I’ll join you there?

ANDREW: I don’t.

MILLIE: You needn’t expect me.

ANDREW: I don’t think either of us has the right to expect anything further from the other.

Related Characters: Andrew Crocker-Harris (speaker), Millie Crocker-Harris (speaker), Frank Hunter
Page Number: 44-45
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Millie Crocker-Harris Character Timeline in The Browning Version

The timeline below shows where the character Millie Crocker-Harris appears in The Browning Version. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Browning Version
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Emotions and Repression Theme Icon
...is having to give up his job due to poor health, and his younger wife, Millie Crocker-Harris. The interior décor is “chintzy and “genteel cheerfulness.” At this point, nobody is in. (full context)
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...of the class “so that they too can share your pleasure.” Just at this moment, Millie Crocker-Harris, Andrew Crocker-Harris’ wife, enters the room; it takes a few seconds for Taplow and... (full context)
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Frank and Millie greet each other. As the latter goes to put down some parcels and take off... (full context)
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Millie asks Frank for a cigarette and inquires whether he will be staying for dinner. She... (full context)
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Frank explains that he had planned to be with his family in September. Millie wants him to come in August if he can’t in September, but he objects that... (full context)
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Millie approaches Frank, who kisses her swiftly and nervously. He says he’s worried about the screen... (full context)
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Millie says it was “very naughty” of Frank to encourage Taplow’s impression. He agrees, and complains... (full context)
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Frank asks Millie why Andrew decided to become a schoolmaster in the first place. According to Millie, Andrew... (full context)
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Frank and Millie kiss again, with Frank still appearing reluctant. Millie explains what she’s been doing all day:... (full context)
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Andrew Crocker-Harris enters, dressed in a suit and looking generally “neat” and “unruffled.” Frank and Millie quickly compose themselves. Andrew asks whether Taplow is around. Millie explains that she sent Taplow... (full context)
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...deeper into the room he notices Frank and greets him. Andrew says that he and Millie had expected Frank at the cricket match; Frank apologizes profusely. Andrew asks Frank if he... (full context)
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...is a long roll of paper “entirely covered in meticulous writing.” Frank is evidently impressed; Millie says it “bores her to death.” Frank doesn’t know what the school will do with... (full context)
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Taplow comes back to the flat, looking out of breath. He hands Andrew’s medicine to Millie. Andrew apologizes to Taplow for being late. Millie exits to the kitchen to start preparing... (full context)
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Millie comes in, wearing an apron. She informs Andrew that the headmaster, Dr. Frobisher, is about... (full context)
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...Frobisher asks after Andrew’s personal finances. Andrew informs him that he has “nothing,” but that Millie has a meagre allowance paid to her from her father’s business in Bradford. He outlines... (full context)
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Millie comes in, having smartened up. She exchanges greetings with Dr. Frobisher. He compliments her appearance,... (full context)
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With Dr. Frobisher gone, Millie comes back into the room and curtly asks Andrew: “Well? Do we get it?” After... (full context)
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Millie asks whether Andrew expects to live on her money; with his eyes fixed firmly on... (full context)
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Andrew informs Millie of Dr. Frobisher’s other “delicate matter,” to have him speak first at tomorrow’s ceremony. She... (full context)
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Andrew explains to Millie that Peter Gilbert is his successor, who has come with Mrs. Gilbert to look around... (full context)
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...and rather upset.” Andrew apologizes for burdening him and predicts that Gilbert will do well. Millie and Mrs. Gilbert come back in. Mrs. Gilbert remarks to her husband: “Just imagine, Peter.... (full context)
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...Crocker-Harrises probably have more important things to be getting on with. She jokingly turns to Millie and says, “isn’t he awful to me?” Millie replies that “men have no souls, my... (full context)
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Millie comes back in, praising the good looks of the Gilberts. She says she doesn’t know... (full context)
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Millie comes in and takes a cigarette from Frank. He explains that Andrew has just received... (full context)
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...the translation for the inscription but gets it slightly wrong. As Andrew gently corrects him, Millie lets out a sudden laugh. She says it’s obvious Taplow is being “artful” and has... (full context)
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...says only “I see.” He puts the book down and walks to the door, telling Millie he is going to his room for a moment. He departs, taking his medicine with... (full context)
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As soon as Andrew is out of the room, Frank chastises Millie, evidently repulsed by her cold dismissal of Taplow’s gift. She says: “Why should [Andrew] be... (full context)
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Frank goes to leave but comes back in to tell Millie that their relationship is “finished.” She tries to laugh it off, telling him he’s making... (full context)
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As Frank heads to the door, Millie runs to stop him. She doesn’t understand his attitude. He tells her to go and... (full context)
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Millie accuses Frank of hypocrisy for suddenly caring about Andrew when Frank has been deceiving Andrew... (full context)
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Andrew comes back into the room. He hands Millie the bottle of medicine, which she holds up to the light. He says that she... (full context)
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...if that is just so that Frank can “more easily carry on [his] intrigue with [Millie]?” (full context)
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Frank is amazed to learn that Andrew already knew about his affair with Millie. It was Millie herself who told him, says Andrew. Frank wonders why Andrew hasn’t done... (full context)
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Frank calls Millie “evil.” Andrew says that isn’t a kind word to use about someone, so he hears,... (full context)
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Andrew jokingly calls Frank’s statement “delightfully chivalrous.” Frank again implores Andrew to leave Millie: “she’s out to kill you.” Andrew says he can’t leave her as it would “add... (full context)
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Andrew goes into further detail about his and Millie’s marriage, telling Frank that both he and her are “interesting subjects for your microscope.” He... (full context)
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...wish to “detain” him any longer. When Frank again tries to convince Andrew to leave Millie, Andrew shouts, “will you please go!” (full context)
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...before he leaves, Frank gets Andrew to tell him what his new address will be. Millie comes in at this moment to set the table for dinner. Hesitatingly, Andrew gives Frank... (full context)
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After a moment’s silence, Millie laughs. She says it’s funny that Andrew has invited Frank to visit him. Andrew protests... (full context)
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Millie says indifferently that Andrew can do whatever he wants, and asks what makes him think... (full context)
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...that “occasionally an anti-climax can be surprisingly effective.” He puts down the phone and tells Millie that they mustn’t let their dinner go cold. (full context)