EDUCATING RITA: What themes are developed by Willy Russell in his play 'Educating' Rita, and how does he develop his characters to reflect those themes?

Essay by beckspenceHigh School, 10th gradeA+, January 2004

download word file, 28 pages 3.4

Educating Rita by Willy Russell explores the relationship between the two characters involved in the play, Frank and Rita over a time span, of several months. A variety of themes are explored as Rita, a working class Liverpudlian, aspires to a higher social and academic level so that she may have choices, with Frank, a disillusioned and failed poet as her teacher.

As Rita progresses, Russell uses a range of dramatic techniques and tensions between the two characters to explore themes of the personal, class, relationships, gender, dependence, superiority and education. This produces an effective and dramatic piece with clear character and plot development. The play could be staged in a number of ways, and when considering how staging would best reflect the themes and passage of time, I must consider set, costume and lighting, as well as how each of the characters should play their part.

The play focuses mainly on the relationship between Frank and Rita, and the structure shows a clear crossover within their respective roles.

Frank is initially the 'dominant male' with more knowledge and experience than Rita; he is the well-educated and confident lecturer to whom Rita comes to for help to become educated. By the end of the play the roles are reversed, with Rita as the dominant educated character, with every option available to her, whereas Frank, who has turned to drink, is barely able to hold down his job. Within this structure, the interaction between the characters explores the themes mentioned above, which have both significance for them, as well as for the audience who are able to identify with the issues discussed. The way that the characters change as the plot develops shows what effect their different experiences have upon them, and how they shape the people that...