The Browning Version

Peter Gilbert Character Analysis

Peter Gilbert is the fresh-faced young teacher set to take over Andrew’s apartment in the new school term. He expresses to Andrew his nervousness at the teaching work to come, and clumsily lets slip that Dr. Frobisher, the headmaster, has nicknamed Andrew the “Himmler of the fifth.” Peter is keen to get Andrew’s advice on teaching, and gives him the opportunity to reflect on the failures of his career. Peter leaves clearly embarrassed by his interactions with Andrew and seems painfully aware of the hurt his throwaway “Himmler” comment has caused.

Peter Gilbert Quotes in The Browning Version

The The Browning Version quotes below are all either spoken by Peter Gilbert or refer to Peter Gilbert. 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

FROBISHER: I’ve told you about him, I think. He is a very brilliant young man and won exceptionally high honours at Oxford.

ANDREW: So I understand, sir.

FROBISHER: Not, of course, as high as the honours you yourself won there. He didn't, for instance, win the Chancellor’s prize for Latin verse or the Gaisford.

ANDREW: He won the Hertford Latin, then?
FROBISHER: No. (Mildly surprised.) Did you win that, too?

ANDREW nods

FROBISHER: It’s sometimes rather hard to remember that you are perhaps the most brilliant classical scholar we have ever had at the school –

ANDREW: You are very kind.

FROBISHER: (Urbanely corrects his gaffe.) Hard to remember, I mean – because of your other activities – your brilliant work on the school timetable, for instance, and also for your heroic battle for so long and against such odds with the soul–destroying lower fifth.

Related Characters: Andrew Crocker-Harris (speaker), Dr. Frobisher (speaker), Peter Gilbert
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Browning Version quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

ANDREW: They are mostly boys of about fifteen or sixteen. They are not very difficult to handle.

GILBERT: The headmaster said you ruled them with a rod of iron. He called you the Himmler of the lower fifth.

ANDREW: Did he? The Himmler of the lower fifth? I think he exaggerated. I hope he exaggerated. The Himmler of the lower fifth?

GILBERT: (Puzzled) He only meant that you kept the most wonderful discipline. I must say I do admire you for that. I couldn’t even manage that with eleven–year–olds, so what I’ll be like with fifteens and sixteens I shudder to think.

ANDREW. It is not so difficult. They aren’t bad boys. Sometimes – a little wild and unfeeling, perhaps – but not bad. The Himmler of the lower fifth? Dear me!

Related Characters: Andrew Crocker-Harris (speaker), Peter Gilbert (speaker), Dr. Frobisher
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

GILBERT: (After a pause.) I’m afraid I said something that hurt you very much. It’s myself you must forgive, sir. Believe me, I’m desperately sorry.

ANDREW: There's no need. You were merely telling me what I should have known for myself. Perhaps I did in my heart, and hadn’t the courage to acknowledge it. I knew, of course, that I was not only not liked, but now positively disliked. I had realized, too, that the boys – for many long years now – had ceased to laugh at me. I don’t know why they no longer found me a joke. Perhaps it was my illness. No, I don’t think it was that. Something deeper than that. Not a sickness of the body, but a sickness of the soul. At all events it didn’t take much discernment on my part to realize I had become an utter failure as a schoolmaster. Still, stupidly enough, I hadn’t realized that I was also feared. The Himmler of the lower fifth! I suppose that will become my epitaph.

Related Characters: Andrew Crocker-Harris (speaker), Peter Gilbert (speaker)
Page Number: 29
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
Get the entire The Browning Version LitChart as a printable PDF.
The browning version.pdf.medium

Peter Gilbert Character Timeline in The Browning Version

The timeline below shows where the character Peter Gilbert appears in The Browning Version. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Browning Version
Personal Success and Failure Theme Icon
Age and Change Theme Icon
Dr. Frobisher asks Andrew if the Gilberts have called to the flat yet. Andrew does not know who they are but is... (full context)
Personal Success and Failure Theme Icon
Age and Change Theme Icon
Dr. Frobisher outlines Peter Gilbert’s distinguished academic achievements at Oxford University, but says they aren’t as high as the... (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
...opinion a week ago. Just at this moment, there is knock on the door. Mr. Gilbert and Mrs. Gilbert enter, both around the age of twenty-two. (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Age and Change Theme Icon
Andrew explains to Millie that Peter Gilbert is his successor, who has come with Mrs. Gilbert to look around the flat... (full context)
Personal Success and Failure Theme Icon
Age and Change Theme Icon
Andrew asks Gilbert if he wants to go with the others to see the flat, but Gilbert says... (full context)
Emotions and Repression Theme Icon
Age and Change Theme Icon
Gilbert says that Dr. Frobisher told him that Andrew “ruled them [the pupils] with a rod... (full context)
Personal Success and Failure Theme Icon
Age and Change Theme Icon
Gilbert apologizes for being tactless. Andrew explains that from the beginning of his career at the... (full context)
Personal Success and Failure Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Age and Change Theme Icon
Gilbert is now “deeply embarrassed and rather upset.” Andrew apologizes for burdening him and predicts that... (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Emotions and Repression Theme Icon
Mrs. Gilbert starts to relate how she and Peter met, but he interrupts her, saying that the... (full context)
Emotions and Repression Theme Icon
Andrew asks Gilbert not to tell anyone about their previous conversation. He says he does not know what... (full context)
Personal Success and Failure Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Emotions and Repression Theme Icon
Millie comes back in, praising the good looks of the Gilberts. She says she doesn’t know why Gilbert would want to be a schoolmaster but bets... (full context)