How does Wiley Russell present the development of Frank and Rita in ‘Educating Rita’? Essay

Educating Rita is a book written by Wiley Russell. It is about two people; Frank and Rita. These two people are almost totally opposite. Rita is a 20ish young woman from north England and Frank is a fairly elder citizen around about 50ish who’s still mentally in the 1980’s with a pretty much mellow life. Frank is an alcoholic and has started teaching at the Open University for the extra cash. Rita is a hairdresser; she has become tired of her job and wanted to explore her life fully.

The book starts with Frank on the phone presumably to his wife or girlfriend. From Frank’s conversation we can see that Frank is a person who really couldn’t care if his life was in danger, also with the dialect he uses over the phone it gives us a impression that Frank would rather be in the pub than spend time with the person he was peaking with, just as he finishes his conversation he goes towards his bookcase and behind the books he pulls out a alcoholic drink. This is we can tell from there onwards that frank is an alcoholic. Shortly after Rita is introduced, Rita has to push her way through. This can be seen as franks life, he is always trying to block his self from others and trying to seclude himself. As Rita says “the poor sod on the other side won’t be able to get in. And’ you won’t be able to get out”.

This is a shock to Frank as he finds himself with a middle class young woman who speaks her mind, is ruthless and terribly honest. Though Rita too is shocked to find that she has been accepted into the Open University, but with her shock she says ” I don’t suppose they would have done it f it’d been a proper university” from this we can tell that Rita feels she is not good enough to have gone to a real university.

As we reach mid way in the book Frank has opened up a bit he is now not trying to seclude himself, he also looks out for Rita and is no longer that mellow person that we saw in the beginning. Rita also too has changed she has become an intellectual young woman, knowing things about literature. Shortly after Rita attends an English course she makes some new friends. One of these is Tyson and the other is Trish. I think that Willy Russell introduces these passive people to show that Rita is changing her life and the people she socialises with, though with Denny now longer in her life and Rita now living with Trish, Willy Russell attempts to change Rita with Trish making Rita into something that she is not.

As we enter Act2 – Scene 1 Rita has gone through a change and this is notable, she is wearing clothes that normal university people wear and is now even more energetic than before. Willy Russell manages to keep us reading by changing these two characters ever so slightly yet these slight changes are seen greatly. A few pages later Willey Russell changes Rita again though now she has started talking ‘posh ‘. Frank is clearly not impressed and sets Rita back on the right path. I feel this is done yet again to keep our interest going. As Rita returned from her course in London she bought Frank a pen, this shows that Rita has some affection for Frank. The pen stated ” only for writing Poetry”. This shows that she wants the best for Frank. Willey Russell also captures our attention by Frank’s wittiness and his bad drinking habits.

We reach to the end of the book and then look back upon these two characters. They have gone through massive changes and with these changes they capture our compassion and our attention.

I personally think that as we came to the end in the book we saw that Rita had changed the most and had become what she truly wanted, I think that Willey Russell does this to try to say that nothing is impossible, though with Rita taking on different personalities and going back to her original change, Willey Russell made this a long journey for her. Frank on the other hand he has not changed, merely just gone back to what he used to be .The change that we see in Rita and the change we see in Frank are totally two different things.

We as the reader wanted to see Rita become that little madam though for Frank we really cannot tell whether he goes back to writing till mid way and the fact he does is just something that is quite excellent. I also feel that the way the book ends with Rita passing her exams it leaves the book on a happy note and just brings the book alive and something people can relate to this I feel is partly due to the fact it is a play and partly due to the fact that Willey Russell relates to his targeted audience.


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