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How well do the opening scenes of Educating Rita introduce the characters of Frank and Rita to the audience?

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Introduction

How well do the opening scenes of Educating Rita introduce the characters of Frank and Rita to the audience? I believe that the opening scenes of Educating Rita are extremely effective in introducing the characters of Frank and Rita to the audience, not only through the speech but also by the setting and the props. The opening scenes establish the two characters of Frank and Rita firmly in the spectator's mind. However one has to decide whether it is better to show the characters fully to the audience in the first few scenes than it is to introduce the audience to the characters in the beginning scenes and allow those characters to grow and develop throughout the entirety of the play. Therefore allowing the audience to learn and discover new things instead of the same few characteristics being repeatedly confirmed. The opening scene begins with a large description of the area and setting of the play. The audience learns that it is set somewhere in the North of England, which is a region associated with the working classes as it is an extremely industrial area. ...read more.

Middle

She comes in as though she has confidence and a mind of her own, this is shown by the 'dumping' of her bag onto the chair and by telling Frank rather impolitely to get a move on with fixing his door handle. This is rather a bold act of Rita as she has never before met Frank and he is to be her tutor, conventionally a student would never talk to their teacher in that tone of voice, however Rita paying no heed to convention does so. Frank attempts to put Rita in her place by asking, "You are?" However Rita fails to understand him and replies, "What am I?", this indicates her lack of education and her working class background as she takes a simple question as a sarcastic remark. Rita is portrayed as someone who wants to change and be perceived as a person of intelligence, not a common hairdresser. This is illustrated by her comments on the print of the nude, religious scene. "This was the pornography of its day wasn't it? ... But in those days they had to pretend it wasn't erotic so they made it religious, didn't they? ...read more.

Conclusion

Rita's working class background is accentuated by her dialect, mainly by the shortening of words and by her accent. Their constant misunderstandings stress their different backgrounds, Frank's educated, middle class lifestyle and Rita's common, uneducated lifestyle. Rita says, "Soon as I walked in here I said to meself, 'Y' can tell he's a Flora man. ... No, Flora, the bleedin ' margarine, no cholesterol..." Frank confused by her remark associates Flora with flowers due to his education in the classics (Flora means flowers in Latin). This shows his instinctive relation to his education. However Rita is associating Flora with the margarine, which was the first healthy, butter type spread, which the middle class ate regardless of its expense whereas the working class would eat anything cheap regardless of its health factors. Not only do these misunderstandings accentuate their difference, they also bring humour into the play. The opening scenes, entertainingly introduce the two contrasting characters of Frank and Rita to the audience. Frank, a jaded, educated professional who feels suppressed by the system compared to Rita, a jubilant and unique individual who enters like a reath of fresh air into Frank's miserable and drunken life. ...read more.

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