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Willy Russell explores themes of education, relationships and social standing in his play "Educating Rita".

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Introduction

Educating Rita Willy Russell explores themes of education, relationships and social standing in his play "Educating Rita". He uses two characters Frank and Rita to explore these themes. He develops them over a time period of a few months at an Open University course at college that Rita has enrolled on. Rita is in her early twenties she is working class and feels that for her to progress any further in her life she must improve her education. Frank is in his early fifties he is a failed poet, now a college lecturer he is dependent on alcohol and uses it as a means of escape. The relationship between Frank and Rita, the only two characters in the play, develops continuously throughout, from their very first meeting until they part and go their separate way at the end. We see changes in each character not all of them positive changes. I have chosen two scenes, one from each act to look at and discuss. I will look at the characters and the development of them and also the development of themes. In act one scene one Russell tries to establish each characters individual personalities. ...read more.

Middle

Throughout the first act the relationship between Frank and Rita becomes closer. Rita continues to go to her weekly sessions with Frank and they talk to each other about allsorts, least of all the poets they are studying. Frank tells Rita of his marriage problems, "I haven't seen her for a long time. We split up." They then go on to discuss the ins and outs of why and when. Rita apologises for being so nosy but Frank does not seem to mind as he answers Rita's questions and the meetings between them become like a cosy chat. Rita's relationship with her partner Denny is also a regular topic of discussion at her course. Because Frank and Rita are only two characters in the play Russell has to involve conversations like this between Frank and Rita so the audience understands the changes in the characters lives. Frank seems to be attracted to Rita in more of a sexual way other than a friendly way at times, "there's a thousand things I'd rather do than teach; most of them with you young lady..." But this does not progress any further than simple flirting. The relationship between the two of them is great until Rita goes to summer school. ...read more.

Conclusion

I would light the stage with a dim light because as this may be a humorous scene there is an underlying sadness to it. Frank and Rita would be picked out by spotlights as I would like the audience to focus on what they are saying because the changes in the characters are shown through what they are saying in this scene more than their surroundings. In conclusion, Willy Russell uses the characters Rita and Frank to explore the complex issues of social standing in society, education and relationships. He does this in a variety of ways including what the characters say and how they say it. As the play develops and time passes we see different changes, for example, Rita's speech develops and becomes more like that of an educated person, her sentences become longer and more complex. By the end of the play our sympathies lie with each character for different reasons. Rita still feels that an education is all that is needed to improve herself and she is proud that she has done so in the end. But we understand why Frank is so reluctant for Rita to change. The way that Russell has not said in his play that either character shows that the themes and issues he has used with is characters are not clear-cut and there is no obvious way to solve all the problems. ...read more.

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