To what extent does Russell use comedy to explore the clash of class and culture in Educating Rita?
Class is a system in which separates society into sections of social and economic class. This is determined by how much money you have, who you are friends with and your priorities or beliefs. Class can be divided into three sections, upper class, middle class and lower class.
Willie Russell has created two extremes of culture, putting them together to identify the differences between them, how these two cultures collide as the play progresses. The play displays the reconstruction of Rita an initially self-assured, vociferous and socially naïve individual who is confined in ...view middle of the document...
Frank represents a middle class man whom prioritises the pub and drinks alcohol excessively. This is a typical trait of the working class. Frank appears to have a comfortable middle class lifestyle but his job as a university lecturer does not interest him in the slightest. He believes teaching middle class adults’ English literature is completely pointless.
"Why a grown adult wants to come to this place after putting in a hard day's work is totally beyond me."
When Rita enters his office in the beginning of the play it is evident Rita is not as articulate as Frank, but her freshness is 'like a breath of fresh air' to him, when she enters his office immediately he is taken back by her forward thinking and charming behaviour. Frank typically is a conventionally ‘educated’ but he lacks ‘knowledge’ which is academic and non-academic in the real world and out of books. Which obviously is a very impractical way of living.
Much of the comedy arises from the main character Rita, due to her desperation to be educated. When Rita first enters Frank’s office she is very nervous and as a result of this she enters with unique, witty gags interpreting everything Frank says into a pun or joke.
“Do you know Yeats?” – “You mean the wine lodge?”
It is the instant clash that catches the audience's attention which makes it such a lively and effective opening. This is Rita’s way of initially coping with her nerves as she obviously found herself in an unfamiliar situation which she was anxious to present herself in front of an academic. Rita does swear a lot and can be seen as quite self-assured and slightly ignorant for example in the first scene when Rita enters Frank’s office she comments on Franks religious painting “look at those tits”.
This reflects Rita’s social class as swearing is seen acceptable to the working class, also it shows that she isn’t as educated as she isn’t sure on what to say in the situation and doesn’t really consider that the comment wasn’t really appropriate for an interview.
Rita is always mocking herself and education as a whole, this provides great humour for the audience as we immediately see the difference between the two characters. It is this instant clash of classes which catches the audience's attention which makes it such a lively, humorous and effective introduction. Rita is subtly slightly intimidated by the fact she is auditioning for a...