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How and why does Russell present differences between Frank and Rita in "Educating Rita"?

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Introduction

Educating Rita by Willy Russell How and why does Russell present differences between Frank and Rita in "Educating Rita"? In the play 'Educating Rita,' Willy Russell is intent on showing us the differences between social class, education of 'middle' and the so called 'lower class.' He is highlighting this by showing how the people of different up-bringing do not necessarily have to make the choices that they do. Frank is a professor of English from a quite conservative 'middle class' background. Rita comes from a different background which scorns the idea of education, she has decided that there must be more to life than being a hairdresser or married with children. Russell uses the two main characters, Frank and Rita very effectively and as we watch the play, we begin to understand more about the point Russell is trying to make. Frank and Rita's attitudes towards things are usually the opposite of each others, but in some cases, they may agree with each other. For example, Frank appreciates English and the arts, whereas Rita appreciates/shows more interest in the T.V and the pub; but as the play progresses, their attitudes towards their opposites change and the difference in characters change as well. Russell presents the difference in characters by their actions and language; he also adds descriptions of each characters movement, dress and reactions to one another. ...read more.

Middle

Frank is explaining to his partner, Julia, that he will be late home but he fails to tell her the real reason why. This shows his inability to maintain a relationship, we already know Frank is divorced and from this phone call home, the audience is beginning to notice a difference in character. 'Pours himself a large slug into the mug in his hand' Another weakness in his character is his addiction to alcohol, we already have knowledge that Frank would prefer to be out at the pub instead of being at work or with Julia, but he furthers his addiction by drinking at work. Our initial impression of a confident, successful man has now changed into an alcoholic. It also shows Franks attitude towards his job and he is very disrespectful. Russell has presented this by telling us where he hides his alcohol, in the bookcase, and his attitude towards it. From our first impression, Frank is very different to how he is now portrayed. Russell has shown this by presenting a more negative perspective than has previously been shown. As weaknesses in Frank's character are gradually revealed, Rita's character is shown as being more positive- she is anxious to 'better' herself. Our first impression of Rita is very different to the one of Frank, she is shown as ignorant and informal, she was the 'typical early school leaver' not interested in school or exams. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is through the course, the two different characters meet. And as the play progresses, each character develops and changes through the other characters' guidance. As we approach the end of the play, Russell turns the play around, making Rita the stronger character. Rita becomes more independent and Frank feels as though he is losing control of her because she no longer needs him, as she already states. 'I'm educated, I've got what you have an 'y' don't like it because you'd rather see me as a the peasant I once was; you're like the rest of them- you like to keep your natives thick, because that way they still look charming and delightful, I don't need you.' Russell eventually gets his point across, by proving the audience's first impression of Rita wrong and shows that anybody can get a decent education if they have the determination, and that there is more to life than the boundaries of social/educated middle class and 'lower class.' Russell uses Rita as a reflection of his own personal struggle; as a working class man aspiring to be educated and respected as a social equal. Therefore Frank represents the power of education and obstacles posed by a traditional class system. It is throughout the play, Russell presents differences in the two characters to help us, the audience understand the process of change- a less advantaged upbringing does not mean that life's choices should be limited. ...read more.

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