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In the play 'Educating Rita', how does Willy Russell deal with the effects of education?

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EDUCATING RITA In the play 'Educating Rita', how does Willy Russell deal with the effects of education? In the play 'Educating Rita', education is presented from two main viewpoints: Frank's and Rita's. To Rita gaining an education is everything to her, so much so that she is willing to give up her life, as it was, and the security that it has brought. However it is this very life of hers that drives her to enrol at the Open University. To help us understand why she does this; Russell offers us a perspective into the lives of the working class. 'Cos by us there is no meanin' to life...There's like this sort of disease, but no one mentions it; everyone behaves as though it's normal.' This is the way Rita feels about those around her. It's the type of life that she herself has led, however Rita is aspiring to more, for a better life, one with more meaning to it. '...it's [education] providing me with life itself.' In Frank's case, education and literature seems to have done the exact opposite. ...read more.


After first encountering Rita, Frank's behaviour improves and he drinks less. However, as the play progresses, his intake of alcohol increases, so much that his students complain about him administering his lecture whilst drunk. Indirectly this is the affect that Rita has upon Frank. Their relationship forces what Frank has been subconsciously avoiding into the conscious, which effectively causes him to retreat further into alcoholism. After returning form Summer School Rita has gained enough intellectual confidence for her to be less dependent on Frank. Her social circle is widening and she is moving ahead with her life. Her weekly tutorial, which before helped her 'get through the rest of the week' is now not as necessary and she attends less. As Rita is moving on Frank becomes dependent on their meetings. Frank's anticipation for her increases, as he believes that he is losing her, which makes him bitter, 'You can hardly bare to spend a moment here'. He even becomes jealous, knowing that she is leaving him out of her life. It can be said that what is initially driving Rita is her desire for choice. ...read more.


Trish is another example to Rita that educated people do not have everything, including happiness. For Rita education has become everything to her, but Frank is intent on making Rita see that that shouldn't be the case. Frank relates himself to Mary Shelly, believing that he had created a monster in Rita. '...you've found a different song, that's all-and on your lips it's shrill, hollow and tuneless.' By the end of the play Rita finally realises what Frank had been talking about the whole time. 'I wanted it all so much that I didn't want it to be questioned. I told y' I was stupid.' What happened with Trish brought everything into perspective for Rita. We must remember that Rita has been where Frank has not. She has seen where she could end up, which is what inspires her in the first place to enrol at the university. Perhaps that is what Frank is missing, a real taste of the life that Rita left behind. The point Willy Russell is trying to get across can be summed up in this quote: Rita: Tch. Y'd think there was somethin' wrong with education to hear you talk. Frank: Perhaps there is. Act 1, Scene 2, page 22 Olabisi Showunmi Page 1 02/05/2007 ...read more.

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