“Educating Rita” by Willy Russell is a comedy which deals with social issues. In this drama Russell explores the central concerns of education, social class and personal choice. In his drama there is an important relationship between the two main characters, Rita and Frank. This relationship helps us understand the themes of the drama.
In the exposition of this play, Russell introduces us to the characters of Rita and Frank. The dialogue here helps us understand their relationship and makes us aware of the central concerns of the play. Frank is a university professor, and Rita is a hairdresser who is studying through the Open University. From the opening scenes, we are aware of the differences in their lives and characters: “Rita: (studying the picture) it’s very erotic.” “Frank: (looking up) actually I don’t think I’ve looked at it for about ten years, but yes, I suppose it is.” Frank is an educated man, who is accustomed to culture and sees it as a work of art but as for Rita she is “gobsmacked” and finds the painting a work of “pornography.”
Rita wants to learn as much as she can and become properly educated; Frank feels inadequate to teach Rita: “Frank: And the thing is, between you, me and the walls, I’m actually an appalling teacher…you want a lot, I can’t give it.” Frank believes he is a useless teacher; he isn’t ready to face the challenge as he has lost the ability to teach a woman like Rita who hasn’t had the benefits of an education.
Setting and symbolism helps us understand both characters and their changing relationship. In act one; we are introduced to the setting for the whole play, which is Frank’s office in the university. The room is symbolic as at the beginning of the play Rita loves the room but later throughout the play she feels trapped, and feels she is getting too big for the room; she wants to learn a lot and become like the other student. This connects with the window in Frank’s office: “(she goes to the window and...