Discuss the ways in which Russell's vision for 'Educating Rita' is a humorous one. What is the effect of the humour in highlighting the play's more serious issues?
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Discuss the ways in which Russell's vision for 'Educating Rita' is a humorous one. What is the effect of the humour in highlighting the play's more serious issues? In creating 'Educating Rita' Russell produced a piece of drama to entertain and give a wide audience the opportunity to understand the class and culture difficulties and differences faced between Rita who represents the working class and Frank who represents the middle class. The contrast between Rita's witty and thoughtful remarks, lively personality and Frank's staleness and sarcasm provides both dramatic entertainment to enjoy, and an exploration of culture issues with which some members of the audience may identify. In 'Educating Rita' Russell uses slapstick humour to amuse the audience. For example at the start of the play humour is created by the increasing impatience of Frank as he repeatedly tells Rita to "Come in!" however Rita must repeatedly keep knocking because of the broken door handle. Rita's response to this event "...one of these days you'll be shoutin' "Come in" an' it'll go on forever because the poor sod on the other side wont be able to get in.
The use of verbal comedy through the differing types of language has enabled Russell to make 'Educating Rita' comic. For example in Act Two Rita changes her accent which provides a contrast to her usual colloquial language which the audience has become familiar with in Act One, "As Trish says there is not a lot of point in discussing beautiful literature in an ugly voice". This comedy highlights Rita's eagerness to change her life. It is effective in suggesting that perhaps Rita is ashamed of her background and culture and gaining an education is not enough for her. Rita sees education as a solution to escape her unfulfilled life however Frank is adamant that she should just be herself suggesting that he almost regrets the good education he has gained. Russell uses Rita's colloquial language as a contrast to Frank's standard English language to make the play comic. For example, "I'm coming in , aren't I? It's that stupid bleedin' handle on the door. You wanna get it fixed!" is a simple but effective way to highlight the difference in class between the two characters. The discussion the pair have on swearing is also effective as it shows how much Rita is in awe of the educated.
Hyperbole is also used to show the audience the way in which Rita sees herself as someone who is entertaining but who cannot be taken seriously, for example when she says "I didn't want to come to your house just to play the court jester." This shows that she is angry at her witty personality and emphasises the extent to which she wants to change. Russell uses similes to create humour for the audience. For example when Rita says that Frank looks like a "geriatric hippie" humour is created because two opposite contrasts have been placed together. This is effective because it highlights Rita's light-hearted nature and the use of the word "hippie" emphasises the suggestion that Frank is not motivated to change his lifestyle, which could be caused by his depression and alcoholism. Russell's vision for 'Educating Rita' is definitely a humorous one. The methods which he uses are successful in not only entertaining the audience but also in informing them of the more serious issues. The use of visual humour for example, Frank's hunt for his alcohol is effective as it complements the verbal humour such as the witty conversations between the two characters. Humour is an effective way to present the serious issues such as class and culture without giving the play a dull tone.
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