Willy Russell wrote ‘Educating Rita’ in the early 1980’s. For the purpose of this essay I will focus on act 1 scene 1. This is the opening scene and also one of the most important in the play. Since this play was first brought out our ideas have changed about it, we now find it more funny and less serious. I will focus on the two main characters Rita and Frank. Rita is a 26-year-old hairdresser who believes education will lead her from her working class life and give her confidence. Frank is a middle-aged alcoholic, who feels trapped by his education as a professor and wants to get out of it.Order now
In Act 1 scene 1 this is where the two main characters meet. So already we know this is an important scene. Their names are Rita and Frank, during this scene we meet and find out about their personalities. Rita is in her 20’s or early 30’s, she is a hairdresser who is addicted to cigarettes and believes that education will find her confidence but also set her free. “What can I teach you, everything.” Frank on the other hand is middle aged, a professor at an Open University who is an alcoholic, he would do anything to give up his job. We now know that these characters have nothing in common apart from they both have addictions. Rita can’t wait to get an education where as Frank wants to get rid of his. “They expect us to teach when the pubs are open.”
At the beginning of this scene Frank is sitting in his office at the university, waiting to interview hopefuls for his course. The first hopeful knocks on the door, Frank shouts “come in” but the door is not giving way. The hopeful outside is bashing the door when it gives way, Frank looks over and looks at this woman standing in the doorway, he gets up and greets her. He offers her a seat but instead she walks around to his desk and drops her bag on his desk. Then Rita speaks, “you know what you should fix that door”, and she is saying this to her interviewer not a good idea really. This tells the audience she is straightforward and speaks her mind.
Frank is amazed at what this women has just said to him, Frank is shocked and decides to carry on the interview, but Rita is still walking round the room not listening to Frank. Then she comes to a hault in the room and stares at a picture hanging up. She looks up at this picture, a naked woman. Frank has never liked this picture but Rita compliments it “its very erotic”. Frank shocked again stands there. At the beginning of this opening scene we now know more about Rita, she is straightforward and not scared to speak her mind, “that’s a nice picture it’s very erotic”.
This scene is a perfect start to the play as we are introduced to the main people in the play normally this play just lets us into the live of the two of the main characters in a few minutes. This is unusual but effective. The scene is unusual by the fact that the interview is being totally ignored by this woman that wants an education. “I am deadly serious I know I take the piss but I am deadly serious”. The audience might find this shocking, disturbing and amusing,
The scene reveals the two characters have addictive personalities. Rita has a smoking addiction, ” I hate smoking on my own everyone else seems to have packed up”. Frank used to smoke, ” I don’t smoke I made a promise not to”. Frank has an addiction to alcohol that I known by most of his colleagues and students. In this scene Rite persuades Frank to start smoking again, “I wont tell anyone I promise”. This I what Rita said to Frank when he said “I can’t have one”.
Significant language is used for effect. In this scene Frank and Rita in this scene discuss why people are so shocked when people swear. “It’s only the masses that don’t understand.” They both know that highly educated people do not get offended when people swear, “But it doesn’t cause any fuss with educated people does it.” Rita believes that she will have to get an education in order for it to be all right for her to swear.
This scene is important because in this scene Rita is very uneducated, “it’s the sort of poetry you can understand.” Frank’s addiction to alcohol gradually gets worse throughout the play. This scene is also used to show how much Rita and Frank have in common and how well they get on, ” you’re a breath of fresh air into this room.” In the end of the play, Rita leaves her husband and also Frank to carry on with her studies.
The audience knows from this scene the time it was set in because of the smoking and the cancer risks. “Everyone has packed up now, there all afraid of getting cancer.” There was also a mention of Al-Copane and he was around in the 1920’s when there was a ban on alcohol in which he provided Chicago with it. This shows the audience it was set in the 20th Century.
The setting for this play is in an Open University, but in particular in Frank’s office on the grounds. The theme of this play is that a woman called Rita wants and education and the professor that is supposed to be giving it to her wish he didn’t have one. This play puts forward some issues like alcoholism, cancer and marriage.