The following sample essay on Educating Rita Author provides all necessary basic info on this matter, including the most common “for and against” arguments. Below are the introduction, body and conclusion parts of this essay. The play was set in the 1970’s. In the 1970’s there was a strong separation between different cultures. People of higher class were seen to be more educated, more respectable and they held more power compared to those people of a lower class. People who came from a higher class were ‘supposedly’ happier and had easier lives.
This play questions that assumption and shows, through different cultures that, that may not always be the case. The play ‘Educating Rita’ is about a young woman called Rita who wishes to extend her education and knowledge and become part of the middle class. She attends an Open University course with an older man named Frank. Throughout the play Willy Russell, the author demonstrates a variety of clashes within different cultures.
Rita is a young woman who’s occupation is a hairdresser; she is of the working class. Rita’s common appearance and informal language, pronounced Liverpool accent presents Rita in a certain light throughout the play. Rita is representing the working class. Frank is the other main character in the play. Frank is a middle class man. He follows a respectable fashion and speaks Standard English with no defined accent. Frank works as a university lecturer and represents the middle class. In the play the only two characters that we see on the stage are Frank and Rita.
The other characters in the play are brought into the scenes by audio viewing e. g. heard on the phone, or are brought up in conversation by Frank or Rita. Already we can see that there is a culture clash between the two main characters; one being well rounded, well mannered and educated where as the other is the opposite.
At the beginning of the play Rita seems to be a happy, bubbly and vibrant young lady despite the fact that she wishes to leave her background behind and aspire to be something better. At the start Rita is part of the working class but she wants to succeed in life and become part of the middle class. Yet the thing that Rita so badly desires is unwanted by Frank. Frank we find out in the first scene is an alcoholic who is terribly unhappy with being part of the middle class. Frank is bored by his background and wants to change his lifestyle. Already we have a contrast; what Rita wants, education and the capability to understand literature, Frank has but is not appreciative or happy. The first scene shows us properly the difference in culture between Frank and Rita. Willy Russell uses different modes of speaking, attitudes, clothing, and cultural references to create a number of contrasts and misunderstandings, which leads to a comical and humorous effect throughout the first scene. In the first scene there are several misunderstandings due to different interpretations of names and phrases.
When the two characters first meet and Rita enters Franks office. Franks asks ‘you are? ‘ Rita not understanding his question replies with ‘what am I? ‘ This is due to the different vocabulary that each culture uses. A second example would be when they are discussing an author by the name if ‘E. M Forster’ and Rita mispronounces the name as ‘E. M Foster – like the lager’ A final example would be when Frank is talking about the famous poet, Yeats and Rita thinks he is talking about the Yates’ wine lodge. All these misunderstandings aroused because Rita was not as educated and familiar with the authors and poets mentioned by Frank who was very familiar with them. If it wasn’t Rita’s lack of literature knowledge it was the difference in vocabulary, which was nothing alike. The play shows how different the cultures can be in such a small area. Both Rita and Frank live in Liverpool and yet both speak entirely different. Rita has a pronounced Liverpool accents and Frank has none. Rita uses abbreviations and a large amount of taboo and slang.
‘I take the piss because I’m not, y’ know confident like,’ Frank is unfamiliar with entrances like the one made by Rita. It is loud and abrupt and puts Frank in a little shock. Frank is not used to a person being so upfront on their first meeting. This is once again another clash in culture. People of the same culture would introduce themselves in a similar fashion but two people of a different clash wouldn’t. This first meeting highlights the different cultures once again by both characters introducing themselves in their own way. After the first scene we can see that there is a culture clash between Frank and Rita. The first meeting is very crucial to the play as this is where the audience gets a true feel for the difference in cultures between the two main characters. These differences proceed throughout the first scene. Willy Russell shows this through the conversations between the characters, for example when Rita starts to discuss a painting on the wall and refers to it as ‘erotic’ and the ‘pornography of its day’. Rita also asks Frank several personal questions about his marital status.
This highlights the difference in cultures once more because Frank does not agree that the questions asked are suitable for a first meeting between two people, but Rita does not understand Franks preference. After the first scene we can see that there is an ironic situation developing; Rita aspires to be like Frank. She wants to be educated and know ‘everything’. She believes that once she is educated it will allow her to make her own choices and make decisions about her life and what she is going to do with. The fact that Frank does not appreciate what he has frustrates Rita because she wants it so badly. Willy Russell uses irony here to show that the play is exploring more than just culture but deeper issues, which involve the struggles of Rita and her aspirations to become more respected for being educated and Franks aspirations to escape the world of literature. Rita’s journey of education is shown in the play as snapshots along the road to development. Rita starts off loud and abrupt but after her first meeting with Frank her journey begins, She starts to broaden her horizons and read a larger variety of books, she writes essays, visits new places like the theater.
At this point she is becoming more educated but she is still not sure about herself. Frank invites her to a dinner party with him and several friends of his, but she does not attend the party still afraid that she is not a middle class lady yet. From here the major changes take place. Rita leaves her husband, Denny due to demand for children, which she doesn’t want, and no encouragement to complete her university course. She moves in with a woman called Trish – a middle class woman who is ‘dead classy’. Rita goes to summer school, changes her accent and language, changes her job to working in a bistro, makes new friends and even changes her name to try and feel more like she belongs in the middle class. Its only when Trish, her room mate tries to commit suicide that she realizes it takes more than education, books and literature to make a person happy; and that those things do not place you in society. Frank does not really change throughout the play, apart from growing closer to Rita and regretting what education has done to her.
He says that he feels like Mary Shelley, the woman who created Frankenstein. Frank says to Rita ‘You know Rita, I think that I will change my name; from now on I shall insist to upon being known as Mary Shelley’ Frank gets worse as the play continues, his drinking problem progresses and he eventually gets suspended from work for a year. Willy Russell uses snapshots of the Rita and Franks journey to show that there was good and bad times to their journey. He really gets across the emotional struggle and shows in the end the final outcome. In the play the main theme is difference in culture and how Rita and Frank view people of different class. Frank does not judge people off what class they belong to. We know this because the day after Rita misses the dinner party and she explains why she did not go. He explains that he didn’t invite her because she would talk formally, wear the right clothes or bring the right wine but because he would of enjoyed her company. However Rita believes that the higher the class you are in, the higher you are on the social scale the happier and more respected you are.
Rita feels her class is repressive. After Rita decides not to attend the dinner party with Frank she joins her family in the pub. During this short time she starts to think that it is not worth it, she starts to think that maybe she should just give up trying to become something better. Its only when her mum tells her that there is a ‘better song to sing’ to the ones they sing now, when she decides to stick it out and make her life better and more pleasant. This proves my previous point that Rita believes that the higher the on the social scale you are the better they are. This is made known through the last few scenes. Rita changes immensely throughout the play. She starts off blunt and ‘stupid’, she then changes the way she is and how she acts to fit in, through the incident with Trish she reverted back to the way she used to be – the same bubbly personality only difference being is that she had passed her exams and was now officially educated and finally felt like she could make wise choices; ‘I mite go to France, me mothers, I might even have a baby, Ill make a decision, Ill chose. Rita goes through many changes throughout the play and with the help and encouragement of Frank she finally aspires to be what she wants to be. Willy Russell uses to characters, and only to characters to show an audience how people were effected by culture and class in the 1970’s and the journeys made to become a person of a higher class.