The following sample essay on Educating Rita Essay discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
There are many different types of humour in Educating Rita, such as slapstick humour, the humour of the use of language and visual humour. One example of this is that Willy Russell uses stage directions to portray humour. The focus of the humour in this play changes from the beginning to the end as it mirrors the power switch from Frank to Rita.
We can see this because we laugh at Rita in a light hearted way, but the tone of the humour changes as the power shifts, and in the last scene we laugh at Frank in a more negative way.
The humour mirrors the development of Frank and Rita because in Act 1, Scene 1 we laugh at the mistakes Rita makes as she tries to become educated.
However, in Act 2, scene 7, we laugh ironically at Frank, as he leaves forever a broken man. Educating Rita is set in an office in a Liverpool University. The two main characters are Frank and Rita. Frank is an alcoholic, who teaches English literature. Rita is married, and a hairdresser. She is taking an Open University course in English Literature, and wants to learn everything and change her life.
In the first and last scenes of the play, Frank and Rita both have very dramatic entrances. In 1,1 Rita is unable to open the door to Frank’s office, as it has a stiff handle that she does not know about.
After a lot of frustrated “Come Ins” in a raised voice from Frank, Rita bursts through the door and practically falls into the office. This is an example of visual humour, and nearly slapstick humour. However, in 2,7, Rita opens Frank’s office door to find him surrounded by tea chests, as he is packing up his office so that he can go to Australia.
This is an example of visual humour. When Rita bursts through the door, it is very loud humour, and quite dramatic. There is no way that you could miss the hilarity of it. When Rita opens the door to find Frank surrounded by tea chests, it is bittersweet humour. Frank looks lost, and apart from the initial humour of the amusing picture of him surrounded by tea chests, there is sadness behind it. The entrances represent the power switch from Frank to Rita. When Rita cannot open the door, it shows the class barrier that she has to break through to follow her dream.
When she manages to get through the door and bursts through it, it shows her eagerness to get started. The way that she was not used to the handle on Frank’s door shows the way that she was in new surroundings, which she is not yet comfortable in. When she confidently opens the door in the final scene, it shows that as she has become more confident and comfortable with her surroundings, Frank has continually become more lost. He is now the one who needs help, not Rita.
Man who shifts a lot of booze” and the quote from Rita from 2,7 is “If you had threepence back for all these bottles, you could buy Australia! When reading the stage directions, you have to remember that the audience watching the play would hear the slurred voice of Frank, and not just be told how it would sound. When the audience saw Frank in 2,7, it would be funny for them to see all the empty whisky bottles hidden amongst his bookcase. This is an example of visual humour. This shows the change in relationship. In 1,1 we are laughing light-heartedly at Frank in his drunken state, but n 2,7 we are laughing ironically at Frank, as we cannot help thinking about what Rita said.
We know that if he had not drunk all the bottles of whisky in the first place, then he would not be going to Australia in the first place. In some of the play, humour comes from confusion. It also comes from Rita being uneducated, ignorant and having a limited vocabulary. An example of this is when in 1,1, Frank asks for Rita’s name using the phrase “You are? ” Rita replied with “I’m a what? “. Rita also confuses ‘Forster’ with ‘Foster’. In 2,7 Frank says that Fosters lager is named after H. E Forster, but spelt wrong. When Rita is being laughed at, the humour comes from confusion, and the audience can understand the mistakes being made.
When Frank makes the joke about Fosters beer, it’s fully intentional, and we laugh, unusually, at someone other than Frank or Rita. We laugh at the Australians. This reflects the power share because in 1,1, we laugh at Rita because she is neither sure of herself nor educated. When we laugh at Frank it is because he is beginning to become out of place where we believed he belonged. The mistakes, which Rita made, were written in this way because of her background. Willy Russell believes that “The masses have not accepted literacy”.
This applies to Rita because what she reads may be classed as ‘trash’ by some, and would not be classed as literature by anyone else. As far as Willy Russell is concerned, she is one of the ‘masses’ who is trying to accept literature. This accounts for her lack of knowledge. Painting mental pictures also plays a part in the humour in Educating Rita. In 1,1, Rita allows us to paint a mental picture of her swearing at her customers “Y’ know when I’m in the hairdresser’s- that’s where I work- I’ll say something like, ‘Oh, I’m really fucked’, y’ know, dead loud. It doesn’t half cause a fuss. In 2,7, Frank describes to us his very drunken night out.
When the audience are watching the play, this is the type of humour, which allows them to do the imagining for themselves. In 1,1, they laugh at Rita because of her unsophisticated ways in her old life, just how she is at the beginning of the play. When Frank tells them the story of his drunken night out, our immediate reaction is to laugh at a “Geriatric Hippie” out on the town. Once this initial picture has left the minds of the audience, they realise it is a weak Frank, sinking down in the world. Sex and swearing also created humour in Educating Rita.
In 1,1 you hear Rita’s reaction on observing a painting, and bluntly saying “Look at those tits! ” When she hears the book title “Howard’s End” she thinks that it sounds rude. In 2,7 she uses the phrase “Bugger the bursar”. They are both the humour of embarrassment. We still get embarrassed when others talk about sex and swear, especially in a formal setting such as a theatre, where we would be in front of others. Even though we are happy enough to talk about sex, and swear amongst ourselves. Even the two examples in 1,1 are different. The first quote is open and direct. It leaves little to the imagination.
The second quote is a sexual innuendo, which we have to work out ourselves. In 2,7 the phrase “Bugger the bursar” may cause a giggle from the audience as they see a picture of this in their heads. This shows the change in relationship, as in the beginning Rita spoke her mind outright. Towards the end, she began to think more about what she was saying. And even though the phrase about the bursar she used sounds like something she may have said in the beginning, one has to remember that in a sense she is just quoting Frank from 2,3,, Willy Russell shows the difficulties that lower class citizens faced when trying to get an education.
He believed that there was “with-holding of culture” carried out by the upper class towards the lower class. In this play, he shows the success of a lower class woman, two factors which would have provided a hindrance to Rita at the time, in getting a good education, and whilst doing this, showing the failure of a well educated upper class man, who would have been thought of at the time as at the top end of society.
This play shows Willy Russell trying to break the mould of who could get an education, and similarly that just because you have a good education, it doesn’t mean that you will be a success. I think that these two scenes, even though they use similar types of humour, are extremely distanced, both in content and in the roles of the characters in the scene. This is because the humour is changing direction from one scene to the other.
In both of the scenes, the type of humour the character uses expresses their personal feeling successfully. In the first scene, we laugh at Rita because she seems so out of place. In 2,7 we laugh at Frank ironically, because he seems to have lost everything. The tone of the humour also changes. In 1, it is light-hearted and fun. In 2,7 it is ironic, bittersweet and more serious humour, which even though we laugh at, we know we should be feeling sorry for Frank, even though he has bought everything upon himself.