Educating Rita by Willy Russell

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Educating Rita

Educating Rita is a story written by Willy Russell. He was born in

Whiston, which is just outside Liverpool. When he was five his mum and

dad moved to Knowsley, on an estate full of Liverpudlians who taught

him how to talk properly. It is about two main characters Rita and

Frank. Rita is a literature student at the Open University. This is a

university that is used as a way of enabling adult students, like

Rita. Frank is a tutor at the Open University but unlike the normal

upper class tutors frank is a normal scruffy old man, this shocks


Rita wanted to study and learn here, and so the fear and pressure from

her friends made her join in with the others around her. She didn't

want to become different from her family and friends, nor those around

her, and so blocked the thought that she wanted more from her life:

"I'd just play another record or buy another dress an' stop worryin"

She put this off because of the peer pressure from the other working

class people, she didn't want to be different and upset them so went

along with their assumptions of women as low, and this put her off for

a while.

Rita sees the middle class as totally different from herself, and

although doesn't want to be working class, doesn't feel she will be

accepted as middle class either. She has the idea that all middle

class individuals are free, and stereotypes, making sweeping

generalisations. She assumes they all eat wholemeal bread, flora, and

watch the BBC, as this is seen as more intellectually stimulating than

ITV, the channel that many of the working class watch. This shows that

she stereotypes certain groups of people from what she has heard,

instead of her own views, she doesn't wait to get to know them before


As Rita believes herself to be sophisticated and well read, she has

named herself after an author. Her real name is Susan, but Rita Mae

Brown is a pornographic author, and as Rita likes her books, she

laughably adopts her name and believes she is making herself seem more

sophisticated, once again showing her complete misunderstanding that

sexually explicit novels are classified as good literature. Such an

action again indicates her naive outlook and lack of literary

awareness at the beginning of the play.

There are many themes during the play, change is probably the most

important as it shows how an individual can develop and learn in both

positive and negative ways, the play indicates the protagonist

changing from one extreme to the other, eventually discovering a happy

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