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Discuss the Themes of Social Class and Education in ¡®Educating Rita¡¯

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Introduction

Discuss the Themes of Social Class and Education in 'Educating Rita' Simon Hearne Willy Russell's play is about a 26 year old, lower-middle class woman, Rita, and her attempts to gain knowledge and a higher social class through education. It's a confused aspiration because she wants to discover herself and understand ballet and poetry, through a better education. These conflicts along with Frank's reluctance to change Rita add to the tension of the play. Russell was brought up in a working class family in Liverpool and had a troublesome education, through Rita, he tries to get across to the reader what it feels like to be working class with little or bad education. Russell portrays Rita as being trapped, with no choice for her future and a lack of vision, and she thinks becoming educated could solve all her problems. She tells Frank why she wants an education at the Open University in the first scene of the first act, page 12, 'I've ...read more.

Middle

Rita's common sense and lack of confidence clashes with Frank's high class and quietness. On page 11 this clash is clearly visible: 'RITA A Flora man FRANK Flora? Flowers? RITA No, Flora, the bleedin' margarine...' Here, Frank automatically assumes that Rita is using complicated terminology for flowers, when she is actually talking about something as simple as margarine. Rita's common sense initially overcomes the class barrier between her and Frank and starts a conversation about Rita's job in a hairdressing salon. Throughout the play, Russell uses widely differing methods to question Frank's, Rita's and the reader's attitudes to education. Rita sees education as an escape from lower-class life and a way to broaden her horizons. Frank however, sees it as a necessary thing, which perhaps makes you look at life in a dull way, examining everything, that might be better if just left as it is. ...read more.

Conclusion

As Rita becomes more a part of Middle-class social life, by going to see Shakespeare's Macbeth etc, Frank is more and more negative towards her, being quiet when Rita is excitedly telling him about the play she went to see, and trying to put her off plays: 'RITA ...I thought it was gonna be dead borin'... FRANK Then why did you go in the first place?' At the end of the play, both Rita and Frank have changed dramatically, Rita is more educated and has moved social class, whereas Frank has seemed to lose his class and is being sent to Australia for two years. Russell leaves the reader to decide what we think about each of them. Frank is worried about Rita, he thinks she is 'singing a different song, not necessarily a better one.' He feels neglected as Rita is leaving him, like his wife, his career, his poetry and his sobriety. But by the end of the play, Rita and Frank have reached another level of development simply with each other's company and both have new horizons in their education. ...read more.

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