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'Educating Rita' by Willy Russell.

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'Educating Rita' by Willy Russell: Willy Russell's popular play 'Educating Rita' is set in the 1970s in the inner city of Liverpool. This cleverly written play, follows a young girl in her twenties, as she battles between the reality of her poor background, and her burning ambition of becoming educated. At the beginning of the play Rita is working as a hairdresser, and living in a council house with her boyfriend, factory worker Denny. She seems to be trapped in a place where she doesn't belong. Simply trying to fit in as she has done ever since her school life. Rita wants to break free, find her place in life. She's the one in so many who just won't accept the automatic life style, that she inherited from her parents. As the play unfolds we see Rita find her missing piece, an education. Additionally what becomes more interesting is seeing her teacher, Frank, wanting the opposite in life. To break free from having what Rita wants, he can't understand the need for, as I quote from one occasion, "pretentious, characterless and without style" literacy. We can see Frank, an educated lecturer, turn to drink as an escape root from the world he lives in. Although when he teaches Rita, this in itself is an escape for him, someone different to study and admire. For his life is filled with well educated, well off folk, whom Frank isn't fond of. But is this because he takes for granted what so many people can't have? Linguistically, 'Educating Rita' gives it's audience many things to digest. Willy Russell cleverly and vividly displays a story of two sides. As we follow Rita in her battle to be something, someone. And as we follow Frank becoming sick of the pretend shield which education gives us. Shortly into the play, we find Rita and Frank in one of their lessons. ...read more.


"Wasn't his wife a cow eh? An' that fantastic bit where he meets Macduff an' he thinks he's all invincible." Rita has clearly digested every bit of action from the play, and is intrigued further as to know if the play was a tragedy. "I'm going to. Macbeth's a tragedy isn't it?" Here the audience can register Rita slowly becoming dragged in to the puzzle of literacy. We can sense Rita's growing ambition, and her desire to break into that small proportion of people who understand the ins and outs of literature and language. Further down Frank begins to explain to her the difference between a tragedy and something that's tragic. "Well I better get back. I've left a customer with a perm lotion. If I don't get a move on there'll be another tragedy. "No. There won't be a tragedy." "There will y' know. I know this woman; she's dead fussy. If her perm doesn't come out right there'll be blood an' guts everywhere." "Which might be quite tragic-but it won't be a tragedy." From then on Rita answers Frank with short one or two word sentences, as if she just wants him to carry on I.e. "What?", "No", "So-so Macbeth brings it on himself?" Rita's short sentences show her growing intrigue, but also reinforce her ignorance due to her social upbringing. All the way through prior to Frank speaking, he seems to be extremely hesitant when he's about to speak to Rita. Almost as if he doesn't want to patronise her with the technical language he uses, I.e. " Well-erm look;" Towards the end of the scene, Rita realises her own ignorance towards these certain aspects of language. Frank says, "It's quite easy really, Rita." And Rita replies, "It is for you. I just thought it was just a dead exciting' story. But the way you tell it, you make me see all sorts of things in it. ...read more.


She walks into Frank's office and we get the impression she's very fed up with herself. She feels as though she's the odd one out. "Well you wouldn't take sweet sparkling wine, would y'?" She starts to make excuses and tells him that she brought the wrong wine. We can sense very clearly Rita's frustration. Additionally we know that Rita felt very uncomfortable around Frank's other guests, the well educated guests wearing the correct attire. She clearly feels she can't fit in and we again see the contrast in social background. She says, "But I don't want to be myself. Me? What's me? Some stupid little woman who gives us all a laugh because she thinks she can learn, because she thinks that one day she'll be like the rest of them, talking seriously, confidently, with knowledge, livin' a civilized life." The above quote reveals many things about Rita, fairly early on in the play. Rita is feeling down after seeing the contrast in characters between her and Franks other guests. She perhaps feels as though she's fighting a lost cause in life. Frank tells her to be herself although this is the exact opposite person Rita wants to be. She's becoming educated in order to change who she is. However this reinforces how Frank just wants Rita as she is, and can't understand the need for her to change. This point of Frank being perhaps unaware of how Rita is changing, is brought up many times throughout the play. Which tells us that perhaps there's a hint of dramatic irony in that he just doesn't catch on. And towards the end Rita changes and leaves Frank behind. To dwell on where it all changed so suddenly without him realising. So we can finally appreciate the both sides of a very cleverly and wittily written play. Willy Russell tells almost two stories in unison, and the audience can digest both of them, with utter intrigue and admiration. By Christian Cooke Christian Cooke, 10F1, Page 4 of 6 ...read more.

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