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How does Willy Russell establish the differences between Frank and Rita in act one scene one of "Educating Rita"?

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Introduction

How does Willy Russell establish the differences between Frank and Rita in act one scene one of "Educating Rita"? In the play "Educating Rita", Willy Russell presents us with the idea of two completely different people: Rita, who is a working class, uneducated, hairdresser and Frank, a drunken university professor, who is bored with his life. In the play the two characters are shown to have very different lives and backgrounds. Frank uses alcohol to escape from his life and his job, whereas Rita wants to escape from the restrictions of being working class, and plans to use education as her passport. Russell himself used to be a working class hairdresser, so this could be where he got Rita's character. Russell has used different devices in this play, these are language, themes, symbols, allusions, staging and contemporary social issues. In this play, Russell presents the themes of escapism and self-discovery. Frank and Rita are vastly different in terms of class status and education, but they both want to escape. Rita is desperate to escape from her husband, the traditional role as a wife and mother and old lifestyle as she feels it is holding her back. She refers to this as "degrees for dishwashers" alluding to her Open University course, and the housewife status she wants to escape from, in order to be more educated. ...read more.

Middle

One good reason why she uses slang and taboo language is that she does not have an advanced enough vocabulary, because of her working class background. Whereas Frank talks with a strong English accent "I shall go to the pub", the word "shall" in the sentence brings attention to his upper class background. However Frank also mentions that he never stops swearing, "Never stop," this could indicate that when Frank is away from the university, he swears all the time and never stops. Russell shows that Rita reads a less academic book like "Ruby-fruit Jungle". This is the only book that she refers to, whereas Frank mentions very well known books by Charles Dickens, and she has very little idea who Frank is talking about. When she mentions Elliot, he automatically thinks of the author T.S. Elliot, when she is actually talking about the cousin of the man who shot Al Capone. Her idea of Frank is that he eats healthily "like Flora margarine" because in her eyes, that is what the upper class people eat, and that is all she has seen them eat, along with "pebble dashed bread". Frank however makes no first judgement on Rita, apart from the fact from when he called her "a liability" at ladies hairdressing, but Rita makes numerous judgements about Frank and his Upper class lifestyle. ...read more.

Conclusion

At a time when unemployment was high, and many people were losing their jobs, Rita showed that people did not have to accept their lot, and could still dream of bettering themselves. Frank sees women as housewives, who stay at home with the children, and men as the dominant "bacon bringer" of the household. But Rita doesn't want to be a housewife with screaming children "I should have had a baby by now, everyone expects it"; she wants to have a successful career and a life, instead of being stuck at home being a housewife. Russell shows Rita at the beginning as a ladies hairdresser, this is a job that requires no qualifications, and she doesn't want to do it, whereas Frank has a high standard university job and still is not happy; he wants a better life too. Russell has been effective and successful in showing the differences between Rita and Frank. Rita and Frank have completely different lives and look at education in a different ways, Rita sees it as a window of opportunity and her passport to a better life, whereas Frank sees the university as a prison, where his sentence will not end until he quits his job. They probably have these views because of their different backgrounds, being from different classes and having completely different attitudes to life. By Olivia Harriman ?? ?? ?? ?? Garforth Community College Miss Burnett Olivia Harriman Educating Rita 10Y4 10KG Olivia Harriman 10KG Educating Rita ...read more.

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