The Browning Version


Terence Rattigan

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Themes and Colors
Personal Success and Failure Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Emotions and Repression Theme Icon
Age and Change Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Browning Version, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Personal Success and Failure

Terrence Rattigan’s The Browning Version is a poignant critique of the way a person’s worth is measured by their “successes” and “failures,” and how these come to govern an individual’s life and way of being. Focusing on schoolmaster Andrew Crocker-Harris’s final day of serious employment, Rattigan manages over the course of the play to subtly suggest the flaws of evaluating life with such a crude measure as “success or failure,” and asks the audience…

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Love and Marriage

The Browning Version is in part an exploration of love and marriage, specifically a marriage that love has deserted long ago. Though Millie and Andrew have been together for a long time, it is clear that their relationship is merely one of perfunctory gestures—of “keeping up appearances.” Rattigan’s play thus works to show the dangers of letting a bad marriage fester and worsen over the years, the way in which love gradually erodes into hatred…

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Emotions and Repression

The Browning Version is a case study in a lifetime of emotional repression. Andrew Crocker-Harris has clearly taken the view in life that it is better to repress his emotions than to let them get the better of him, but the quiet sorrow that surrounds him suggests that this has been a grave error. Rattigan contrasts this repressed state with Andrew’s rare emotional outbursts, which are brought on primarily by a leaving gift he receives…

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Age and Change

Rattigan’s play makes effective use of characters’ different ages to show the distinct stages in an individual’s life and the way in which these ages affect people psychologically. Ultimately, this is a device that serves to heighten the quiet undercurrent of tragedy that pervades the life of Andrew Crocker-Harris: there is a sense in which his chance at life has gone. Though he is not quite at retirement age yet, he is old enough…

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