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Educating Rita

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"Educating Rita" coursework "Educating Rita" is a very interesting but unusual play, written by Willy Russel during the 1980's. Willy Russel was from a working-class background and was a mature student at the Open University. This tells us where a lot of his inspiration came from as one of the characters is clearly based on himself in the past. The play is set in a Northern university, in the city of Liverpool, and follows the lives of two people and their two very different experiences of education. These two people are the only characters who we are directly introduced to during the play. The first is Rita, a working-class, poorly educated, twenty six year old hairdresser with a strong Liverpudlian accent. The second is Frank, a well educated, middle class university lecturer in his fifties. Throughout the play, many differences between the two characters become apparent. The play mainly focuses on the difference in class and attitudes of the two characters while also holding a strong theme of education. The fact that there are only two characters in "Educating Rita" is not the only thing that makes the play unusual. The entirety of the play takes place in one room. While this may not sound very interesting, this large tutor room on the first floor of an old-fashioned university building is where we meet and get to know two interesting as well as observe the changes in their relationship and individual personalities. The one setting also helps the audience to focus much more on the two characters rather than their surroundings. Therefore the audience will gain greater knowledge of the characters and understand them more. In this essay, I am going to discuss the effectiveness of the opening scene in "Educating Rita". I am going to focus on how the characters and themes of the scene gain the interest of the audience as well as the dramatic devices. ...read more.


Frank asks Rita "you are?" and Rita responds "What am I?". Here there is a clear misunderstanding on Rita's part about the language that Frank is using. This again emphasizes the fact that Frank is educated unlike Rita and that they both come from different classes and cultures. It also tells us that there will be a lot of confusion and contrast in the relationship between the two characters. Finally, this confusion will also show the audience that the characters have become aware of the differences in the language that they use. The differences between their backgrounds, classes and cultures that they come from tell the audience that the relationship between the two characters is not going to be an easy one and that a number of problems may come about because of the differences between the characters. As the conversation continues Rita changes the subject when she moves on to say "That's a nice picture, isn't it?" This shows that Rita has quite a short concentration span but also has a lively, enquiring mind and clearly wants to learn and be able to have intelligent conversations. This tells the audience a lot about Rita's character and how she is keen to learn but may find it difficult. Rita and Frank continue to discuss the painting as the scene continues. While Rita's comments that the painting "was the pornography of its day" and "is very erotic" are extremely precise and outspoken, it shows us that Rita is thinking much more about the painting than Frank whose response of "I suppose it is" tells us that he only sees the painting for its artistic value and nothing beyond the brush strokes. This section tells us in many ways that although Rita lacks the education that Frank had, his intelligence is wasted while her potential shines out in the relevant and accurate comments that she makes. ...read more.


We learn how she is resisting the pressure and expectations of others to pursue this education and this reinforces her strong character and determination. She also reflects her negative views of the middle class by insulting Frank's home place however this is again covered up by humour. As Rita and Frank's conversation draws to a close, Frank tells Rita how he is an "appalling teacher" and that he will find her another tutor. This in itself is quite confusing for the audience as they begin to wonder why he doesn't want to teach someone who he clearly likes so much. After Frank apologises, Rita appears to have been quite upset and walks to the door before leaving the room. The fact that Rita can now get out of the room so easily shows the audience that Rita is going to find it much easier to fall out of education than to get into it. However, just as the audience begin to think that Rita has been defeated, she bursts back into the room and says to Frank "you're my tutor" and she continues to repeat this over and over. This again shows her determination and strong will as she pursues while Frank still says that he won't teach her. Finally as frank says "You're not coming next week" Rita ignores him, not taking no for an answer and replies "and you're getting a hair cut!". While showing Rita's determination it also shows that she sees Frank in many ways as a challenge but does not let this put her off. Overall, Will Russel uses many dramatic devices to gain the interest of the audience. He also informs us of the characters personalities as well as the themes of the play. Willy Russel mainly uses the differences between the two characters to gain interest. These differences include class, culture, language and attitudes. Overall, two people with such different personalities would never be considered to get on well and I think that this is what makes the scene so very effective. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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