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Characterization of Rita and Frank

Alles zu Willy Russel  - Educating Rita

Anne-Cathrin Schmidt, LK-Eng 12

Characterization of Rita and Frank

(scene 1/ act 1)
The play “Educating Rita”, written by Willy Russell, is set in Liverpool in the early 80's. It is written to highlight the class divide between the upper class lecturer Frank, and the working class student Rita. Important character traits of Frank and Rita already attract attention in the first scene.
Frank is a highly educated professor in his early fifties (…Frank, who is in his early fifties…p.7). He seems to be a heavy drinker (Jubilantly he moves to the Dickens section and pulls out a pile of books to reveal a bottle of whisky. P. 7, 8) and doesn’t hide his desire for alcohol ( Frank: Can I offer you a drink?; Rita: What of?; Frank: Scotch? P. 11). This demonstrates that he doesn’t want to change this problem, he has accepted it in so far that he shows it openly. The fact that he drinks at work lets him appear on the one hand very funny and human but on the other hand irresponsible and unsuitable for the education of young people. Behind this façade Frank is a very intelligent and well educated man. His knowledge in literacy is very far-reaching ( Rita: This poem is about fightin’ death…; Frank: Ah - Dylan Thomas….p. 11; Oh, there’s a Yeats poem, called “The Wild Swans at Coole”. …There you see an example of assonance. p. 14) and he is open for new things. For example he doesn’t dismiss Rita’s preference for the book “Rubyfruit Jungle”, though it’s pulp fiction (Rita: Y’ know Rita Mae Brown who wrote “Rubyfruit Jungle”? Haven’t y’ read it?...; Frank: I’d – erm- I’d be very interested. p. 15). Frank is bored by his job as a teacher and needs challenge, his sentences: Because I think you’re marvellous. Do you know, I think you’re the first breath of air that’s been in this room for years.(p. 18), emphasizes his cry for a change. He doesn’t have a good opinion about himself as a teacher, so maybe he is a bit insecure because he is unsatisfied in his job ( And the thing is….I’m actually an appalling teacher. Most of the time, you see, it doesn’t actually matter – appalling teacher is quite in order for most of my appalling students. p. 20). But he is listening carefully to what Rita is telling him and does not interrupt her, though she really talks a lot (Rita: ….See, I wanna discover meself first. Do you understand that?; Frank: Yes. p. 18/19).
Rita is a 26 year-old hairdresser with a quite heavy Liverpudlian accent and this is the first hint regarding her lower education ( I’m comin’ in, aren’t I? It’s that stupid bleedin’ handle on the door. P. 9; I hate smokin’ on me own. P. 11; Y’ wanna be careful with that stuff, it kills y’ brain cells. P.11). She wants to be educated and sets herself a high target (I don’t want a baby yet. See, I wanna discover meself first. p.19). She doesn’t mince matters and is very open and outgoing. Her inhibition threshold is very little and she pronounces directly what she thinks (That’s a nice picture, isn’t it?...Look at those tits…This was the pornography of its day, wasn’t it? It’s sort of like men only. P. 9, 10). In fact Rita feels insecure because she knows that she is underprivileged compared to Franks education. Her insecurity mostly appears in a “dirty” sense of humour and her longing for a cigarette. (Frank: Would you like to sit down?; Rita: No! Can I smoke?; I hate smokin’ on me own! p. 10/11). On the other hand she doesn’t hide her lack of education what shows that she is a very honest person (You probably won’t think it’s any good…it’s the sort of poetry you can understand. P. 11). She wants to broaden her mind because she feels unsatisfied in her life (Frank: What do you want to know?; Rita: Everything! p.12; I’ve been realizin’ for ages that I was, y’ know, slightly out of step. p. 18). She wants to start doing her own thing, though her environment (for example her husband Denny) expects things like getting a baby and playing the housewife from her. Rita wants to start a development into a (for her) new direction. She wants to become independent and educated.
Words (with examples): 729
In this work, the 2 protagonists from Willy Russells "Educating Rita" are characterized. But my characterization only refers to the character traits that are shown in scene 1 of act 1, maybe it"s necessary to enlarge it. (736 Wörter)
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