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Browning Version, The

Agamemnon

harris rattigan prize crocker

a one-act play by Terence Rattigan, first performed in 1948. It involves Arthur Crocker-Harris, once a brilliant classical scholar, now ‘the Himmler of the Lower Fifth’, a schoolmaster said to be ‘shrivelled up inside like a nut’. He is forced to leave the school where he has long taught, denied a pension, and even asked to cede pride of place at Prize Day to a younger, more popular man. When a pupil gives him Robert Browning's version of Aeschylus's Agamemnon, he uncharacteristically breaks down, only to be told by his bitter and vindictive wife that the boy's present is self-serving. Her lover, another master, is horrified by the cruelty and injustice of this, and confesses the affair to Crocker-Harris, who replies that he has known about it all along. At the end he finds the strength to confront his humiliation and pain, and announces that he will exercise the privilege his seniority gives him at Prize Day. The play is generally felt to be one of Rattigan's most successful studies of loneliness and emotional failure.

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