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Educating Rita is a play written by Willy Russell. It is about a woman
called Rita who feels her life is not fulfilled so she goes to Frank
who works at an Open University to tutor her. Rita has a husband
called Denny. He is working class and has never been to university,
like Rita before she goes to she Frank. Frank on the other hand is a
lecturer of literature but does not have everything. He is unhappy at
home and is often drunk at his tutorials.
The audience's first impression of Frank is that he likes a drink (or
two) because in the first scene he is looking for his hidden bottle of
whisky. We know straight away that he is a heavy drunk. We only hear
Frank talking on the telephone with his partner, Julie. Frank doesn't
treat Julie with any respect. He has no intension of going home for
tea, he would much prefer to get drunk at the pub. After putting down
the phone Frank says " yes that's it you go and put your head in the
oven". This shows frank has no feelings for her.
Frank works in a university but also tutors for the Open University.
Franks wife has quite a few friends but frank doesn't because he is
always out at the pub. Frank uses clever words and talks in an
When Rita looks at the picture and says" that's a nice picture" frank
thinks it is a strange thing to notice because he has never really
noticed it. "Actually I don't think I've noticed it in about 10
years". Frank feels it is a very strange thing to talk about. He takes
his surroundings for granted, For example the window " I don't often
consider it actually" and jokes about throwing a student out of it.
I think Frank likes and respects Rita because he said, "Would you like
to borrow it" meaning the book. He also must have had respect for her
to let her come to his dinner party.
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Frank finds Rita attractive and tells her at the end of Act 1 Scene 4
"If she knew I was at the theatre with an irresistible thing like you
Rita, it would be deaf and dumb breakfast for a week". When frank
flirts with Rita she puts her self down to try and stop him "Well,
what's she got to be jealous of me for". This suggests that they both
think different things about their relationship. Rita thinks they're
friends but I think Frank wants more or maybe he's joking.
Rita thinks of frank as a tutor and a friend but nothing more for
example "You're a good friend Frank".
Rita tells Frank that Denny "gets dead narked if I work at home". This
shows that Denny doesn't like Rita going out. Perhaps he does not want
her to do better than him. Rita says that Denny is afraid of her
getting stronger by going to Open University. He would prefer her to
"go out to the pub with him an' his mates". He is probably afraid that
he will lose her.
Denny is working class however Rita talks about working class culture
"round our way like" - meaning going to pubs and talks about people in
the hairdressers not understanding about books. Denny does not appear
to want to improve himself in any way. He likes things as they are. He
also thinks that that women should have children. However Rita says
she is not ready for children yet. She is pretending to have come off
the pill. When Denny finds out that she has been lying about it he
burns her books. This shows how unhappy he is with Rita's new
interest. He also hates the way she's changing.
When Rita says she isn't having an affair with Chekov Denny says he
wouldn't put it past her to "shack up with a foreigner". This shows he
doesn't understand anything about books or what Rita is learning.
Rita and Denny split up when Denny tries to make Rita stop doing the
course. He packs her bags and says she has to stop going to see Frank
and stop taking the pill. Rita decides to leave because Denny tells
her to choose between her tutorials and him.
Rita starts breaking away from Frank when she leaves for summer school
and she also starts missing classes "you didn't come last week". Rita
doesn't rely on Frank much any more because she starts to become more
confident and independently minded. She goes to a summer school to
learn even more. Frank is surprised when Rita has read poems by
William Blake already. She has made opinions of her own without Frank
Frank still wants and needs Rita because she is the only thing left in
his life. I know this because he asks her to go to Australia with him
"Rita, will you come away with me". Again we don't really know if he
is joking or not.
The audience feels that Denny is a nice man but doesn't think about
what Rita wants and needs. The audience think that Frank doesn't
really care any more for example getting drunk before lectures.
Education has changed Rita into a completely different woman; she
speaks good English and writes literately. At the end of the play when
she has passed her exams we don't know what Rita will do next. She may
go to France. She says she may even have a baby, "I'll make a
decision, I'll choose. I dunno". She will take her time and now is
more confident to choose herself.