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Educating Rita

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The play centres around just two characters, Frank and Rita. Willy Russell uses his characters to tell his audience about social class, education and the differences between people. Consider how the play does this. What is Willy Russell's message or motive for writing this play? Educating Rita is a satirical and humorous analysis of the social class differences in our society. Insightfully and with great drama, Willy Russell depicts the chasms which exist in our highly socially stratified society. The play may seem at first sight to have limitations. There are only two characters. The setting remains largely static. Yet, despite or possibly because of these limitations, Russell gives the audience an insight into social class differences in an unusual and enjoyable manner. At the beginning of the play we are introduced to Rita who is part of the working class, she has little education and a poor job as a hairdresser. Rita feels trapped with the situation she is landed with and believes that there are better possibilities in life. She doesn't want to fit into the stereotyped image of a woman with her background, but feels that in some ways it is expected of her. "I've been realisin' for ages that I was, y' know, slightly out of step. I'm twenty-six. I should have had a baby by now; everyone expects it......See, I don't wanna baby yet. See I wanna discover meself first." ...read more.


Rita feels she is becoming educated by talking differently but she doesn't realise that she is changing who she is. This play is set exclusively in Frank's study, which he sees just as a room, he takes all the qualities it has for granted. We can determine that it is his refuge from his problems, the people around him and the outside world in general, his reluctance to fix the door shows this, "It's that stupid bleedin' handle on the door. You wanna get it fixed!" "Erm - yes, I suppose I always mean to..." (Rita/Frank Act 1: Scene 1) Rita, however, is thoroughly marvelled by this room and its contents, this difference in attitudes towards the room is clearly shown when Rita points out the painting and comments that it is very erotic. Frank's reply shows how accustomed he has become to his surroundings that he rarely notices them any more. "Actually I don't think I've looked at it for about ten years, but yes, I suppose it is." (Frank Act 1: Scene 1) Rita does at another point in the play describe why she likes the room so much, she believes that it's classy, cluttered look perfectly reflects Frank's personality. The study is full of hope for Rita and represents her aspirations. Further into the play, the room also becomes a safe-haven for Rita as it is where she can escape from the peer pressure which she experiences from her husband and those around her, those who knew her before she decided to embark upon this self-improvement. ...read more.


But when at the end of the play, Trish attempts to commit suicide Rita finally realises that everyone has problems whatever their social standing, gender or education. You can't ensure that you're going to be happy even if you do try to improve yourself. Willy Russell intended this play to inform people about how different social classes are treated and to show that education is not necessarily a route to happiness. This play, and Rita's life reflects Russell's life completely. It seems that it was written from personal experience. Willy Russell also came from a working class background and had a poor education which he later revisited after many dead-end jobs. This play does bear some resemblance to Pygmalian by George Bernard Shaw but all of the milestones catalogued in Rita's life are those encountered by Russell. He has made the play more interesting by casting the character of himself as a female, in an age when very few women went to university, and of those there was only a minority that came from working class backgrounds. Ultimately, I believe that Willy Russell wrote this play to show his audiences that happiness does not come from knowledge or social status; and to break away from the mould may work for some people but it does not insure that you will be happy and contented in life. People from all walks of life, genders, standards of education and wealth although it hasn't been directly mentioned, have equal opportunity and chance of being happy in whatever they wish to do. Rachel Henderson Ass. 5 Amu 11.09.02 ...read more.

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