The title of the play ‘Educating Rita’ refers to a woman called Rita
who decides to enrol on a literature course at an open university.
Rita is a working class, 26-year-old hairdresser. She has a husband
called Denny who disapproves of Rita’s decision of enrolling on a
course at the Open University, as he is worried she is going to turn
into a different, more educated woman.
The play is set in the 1980’s. Which means that because Rita is
working class she has to break away from the restrictions, which are
imposed, on her by her husband Denny and the community she lives in.
In act 1 scene 1 the stage directions are about 1 and a half pages
long and they give us a clue to the type of person Frank is. “ A room
on the first floor of a Victorian-built university” This is the
opening line to the play and is the very first stage direction. This
tells us that frank works in a university. “Another desk CENTER
covered with various papers and books” This stage direction tells us
that Frank is a lecturer of some sort. Just from reading the stage
directions at the beginning of the play you get a general idea about
Frank. They tell us that Frank is a lecturer of some sort at a
university, in the north of England. He is in his early fifties and
likes to have a drink.
When Frank is talking to his partner Julia on the phone we start to
develop our impressions of him. We start to think he is selfish and
only cares about his drink. For example “I probably shall go to the
pub afterwards” “look if you’re trying to induce some feeling of guilt
in me over the prospect of a burnt dinner”. These two quotes show that
he doesn’t care that Julia has made his dinner all he wants to do is
go to the pub.
Willy Russell makes it clear that there are differences between Frank
and Rita. One of the obvious differences is that Frank is middle class
and Rita is working class. Willy Russell makes this difference clear
to us by the words and phrases he uses. For example “ D’y’ get a lot
like me” “Pardon”.
Rita thinks ‘proper students’ are better than her because they go to
university full time. She thinks that they spend all there time
reading and studying. She doesn’t class herself as a ‘proper student’
because she doesn’t go to university full time, she thinks she is the
total opposite to what she classes as a ‘proper student’. Frank tries
to tell Rita that a ‘proper student’ isn’t how she imagines them.
We get the impression that Rita didn’t go to a very good school and
she says she would always dream about going to boarding school. “I
told me mother once she said I was off me cake”. This tells us that
Rita’s mum didn’t take her very seriously. Rita tells Frank about the
school she went to and she thinks that it was normal to have knives
and fights in the playground. Even though...