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Explore Willy Russell's Use of Humour in the Play.

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ENGLISH COURSEWORK : EDWARD LITTLE Explore Willy Russell's Use of Humour in the Play Educating Rita is an entertaining 20th century play. Its entertaining qualities are achieved from many areas, but the most prominent aspect is the humour that Russell involves in the play. Russell creates this humour using two main characters, known as Frank and Rita. There are other characters involved and referred to such as Rita's husband, Denny and her new found friend Trish, both of whom play minor, yet important roles. However, it is through Frank and Rita that the theme of humour is really explored. The two characters personalities totally contradict each others. Frank being the solemn sarcastic recluse alcoholic, whilst Rita is a restless soul looking for completeness in the form of an Open University Course in English Literature. Frank being a teacher at this university has the seemingly impossible task of 'Educating Rita'. This is the storyline for the play which progresses and entertaining comedy is provided from both Frank and Rita. It is evident fro the immediate beginning of the play that the two are very different characters with totally different perspectives of life and contrasting attitudes. Looking at the first scene, it seems that as the play continues their contrasting personalities will result in many arguments and disagreements, however as the play evolves it becomes apparent that Frank and Rita become quite fond of each other and thrive in each others company. ...read more.


A more conservative meeting would have been expected when a lady who wished to be educated went to an Open University to meet her tutor and her actions did not coincide with these expectations. As well as Rita's bluntness there is also the innocence which can also be interpreted as ignorance due to her lack of education causes her to misinterpret things, for example when she is talking to Frank on their first meeting: Frank: No. Erm ~ assonance. Well, it's a form of rhyme. What's a - what's an example - erm - ? Do you know Yeats? Rita: The wine lodge? Frank: Yeats the poet! Rita: No. This shows her unfamiliarity with English Literature, the course which she is going to be studying! It also gives us another glimpse into her background the fact that she immediately mentions the wine lodge tells us about her life and what is known to her and what she is familiar with. She is clearly more familiar with Yeats the wine lodge rather that Yeats the poet! This miscomprehension often makes her role comical as she often misinterprets things as she does not possess the education to comprehend the more profound meaning of things. Things that she misinterprets, the people in the audience would understand either through common sense if they would find it straightforward, so Rita's mistakes result in entertainment aimed at her misconceptions. ...read more.


The short sweet remarks made by Frank to Rita show that in their relationship they can joke around and have a honest relationship. The humour brought to this play by Willy Russell has been through the characters and personalities of both Frank and Rita in different ways. Franks personality takes a complete turn from the beginning of the play when he was a reclusive alcoholic with a sharp tongue, taking a course and following a job he really did not like . . . Frank: ... You see I never - I didn't actually want to take this course in the first place. I allowed myself to be talked into it. I knew it was wrong. Seeing you only confirms my suspicions. . . . to a man who is freer and seizes life more. Changes are also brought about in Rita's character, as she goes from a blunt, vulgar woman to an educated, intellectual. However, both characters still possess certain qualities, which help them to keep their own identity and does not let the audience forget what they were initially like at the commencement of the play. It is through their journey and reformation of the two characters that Willy Russell used humour. The humour can be described as natural and impromptus, and I think that these skills of making the humour seem natural rather than forced is Russell's key device in making 'Educating Rita' an entertaining and humorous play. EDWARD LITTLE ...read more.

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