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'How Effective is the Opening Scene in Introducing the Characters of Frank and Rita to the audience?

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Introduction

'How Effective is the Opening Scene in Introducing the Characters of Frank and Rita to the audience?' Before we are able to judge how effective the opening scene is in introducing the characters of Frank and Rita, we must first examine exactly what can be drawn about these characters from act 1 scene1. Immediately, from the very first few lines of simple stage direction, we infer that the room described belongs to a character of some education. We are told, "the walls are lined with books" and "on the wall hangs a good print of a nude religious scene". As we read on, our assumptions are confirmed and Frank is revealed to us as a university lecturer, a job that necessitates a high degree of education. In these few lines of stage direction, we also learn, that this character Frank, has a significant problem with his drinking habits. ...read more.

Middle

Her slightly overwhelming and bubbly character immediately upstages Franks balance and composure, and as a result, Rita's lack of intimidation takes hold of the conversation, and the first role reversal of a student-teacher relationship occurs. The first scene is extremely effective in establishing Rita's indisputable genuineness and refreshing realness. From the moment she enters and launches into conversation with the slightly astounded Frank, her 'say what you mean' policy is prominent. This is clearly demonstrated in her views on literature, and the painting hung in Frank's office. She, without hesitation begins to express her views on the painting, using blunt language e.g. "look at those tits", and does not hide behind any false pretences of looking at it in a pretentious, 'educated' manner. Gradually, as the interaction between Rita and Frank progresses, Frank begins to adapt to seeing things the way Rita sees them and vice versa. ...read more.

Conclusion

They drink together, smoke together, and know intimate details of each other's past and present. Rita 'invades' Frank's usually clandestine personal life, and in doing so, gradually begins to open him up. The scene also proposes an essential discussion topic. Frank has lost any value of education, his extensive learning has made him cynical and dissatisfied. However, Rita longs to gain the knowledge and education of Frank, but would that create a cynical and dissatisfied Rita? Would an education mean the loss of her unadulterated pragmatism? This leads us on to the question; is an academic education really as valuable as a PhD in life? To conclude, I felt that the opening scene of Educating Rita was extremely effective in introducing the characters of Rita and Frank to the audience. Willy Russel used a combination of techniques including role-reversal, and humour to give us and introduction to these key characters. The extensive insight gained in this first scene, will help the reader tremendously, in understanding further events in the play, and the relationship that develops. ...read more.

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