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To What Extent Would You Agree That 'Educating Rita' Depicts a Clash of Classes and Cultures?

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Introduction

To What Extent Would You Agree That 'Educating Rita' Depicts a Clash of Classes and Cultures? 'Educating Rita' is a play by Willy Russell, a dramatist recently turned novelist. 'Educating Rita' contains only two characters, a young woman called Rita and a middle-aged man called Frank, although this may sound boring these characters are so interesting that anymore characters would ruin the ambiance of the play. In the early part of the play Rita, a hairdresser from north-west England, has started an Open University course with Frank, a university lecturer in his early fifties, in order to change herself. Throughout the play Rita becomes more and more cultured giving up anything that gets in the way of her education or tries to stop her being the cultured individual she wants to be. Rita is a working class woman in her late twenties trying to find herself through a university education; Frank is a divorced university professor in his early fifties. ...read more.

Middle

Rita, originally Susan, thought that Susan was too common so changed it to Rita after the author of an 'airport novel.' The name Frank is used to describe Frank himself as a candid character, Russell has actually 'named him after the quality.' Throughout the play Rita gradually changes but, when she is half way through, she feels like 'a half-caste.' She is no longer working class but is not yet middle class. She clashes with both classes because she is different. The only place she feels 'normal' is at summer school where she meets other people like her, people trying to change. 'Frank [summer school] was fantastic... A crowd of us stuck together all week.' Rita enjoys the feeling of belonging somewhere and being a 'real student' for a week. Rita's job move depicts the point at which she feels that she moves from one class to another. ...read more.

Conclusion

Rita always tries to make the best of a bad situation. These aspects of each of their personalities clash and this is a good example of clashes between two classes and cultures. In the earlier part of the play Rita feels surrounded by an alien environment, the university and its students, she is nervous and, as a result, comes across as very loquacious. She sees this in herself when she says, 'I talk too much' in act one scene one. However, towards the end of play her speeches are generally shorter. In this new environment Rita also feels isolated but gradually changes and feels as though she can interact with the 'real students'. When she finally does this in act two, scene two it may surprise the audience because in earlier scenes she describes them as 'real students' as though her life and their lives cannot mix. But, when she finally does speak to the student, the first line she tells us she said was, 'Excuse me but I couldn't help overhearin' the rubbish you were spoutin' about Lawrence.' Matthew Lynch 02/05/2007 ...read more.

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