Educating Rita is a popular stage play, but it does not have anything serious to say. Do you agree or disagree?

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“Educating Rita is a popular stage play, but it does not have anything serious to say.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Educating Rita, a 1983 British film directed by Lewis Gilbert, based on Willy Russell's popular stage play, is a text that conveys significant ideas and themes, through an informal and light-hearted manner. Russel’s text addresses many “serious” aspects of life, by exploring intricate and complex themes alike, via his two primary characters; Rita and Frank. Russell’s protagonists, both vastly different in their age, position in society, and education, form a relationship which will be confronted with themes of social class, social pressure, individuality, change and tragedy, throughout the text.  Ultimately it is the means with which Russell’s characters confront these themes, which gives his text its insightful message and purpose.

Social Class

Social Class, as explored through Rita’s initial inadequacy and subsequent cultural- progression in Russel’s text, presents itself as a key theme, exploring a ‘serious’ idea.  Rita and Frank are from entirely different social classes -working and middle, respectively –with this being clearly apparent in their manners of speaking, clothing, extracurricular pursuits, and philosophical views. Rita’s struggle to progress from her life-long working class position in society is exemplified early in the text, when she consciously decides not to attend frank’s “party” in fear of being “some stupid woman invited for a laugh”. This scene, which illustrates Rita looking up at the patrons in Frank’s apartment from the street, symbolises her opinion of her own standing in society; she feels below Frank and his upper class counterparts. Shortly after the party, Rita, is reassured by frank, who is capable of seeing past her social position, when he says, ”You were invited because I wished to share your company.”. Essentially, through the theme of social class, Russel is highlighting his idea that all people deserve to be treated respectfully, irrespective of social standing.

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Societal Pressure

Along with Social class, Rita’s confrontations with Social pressure can be recognised as another cardinal theme in Russel’s text, with an important allegory.  Throughout the text, Rita, against her better judgment, is pressured into conforming to the social norms of society and her family alike.  Both her father, and her husband, Demi, continually pressure Rita into having a baby. As made evident at Rita’s sister’s wedding, her father criticises her for “being married 6 years and still not pregnant”. Likewise, in the following scene, her husband, inconsiderate and uncaring of her wishes, threatens her, remarking “You stop going ...

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