(Educating Rita - Willy Russell) --- Russell uses the contrast between Frank and Rita's cultural backgrounds to make both comic and serious points. Which of these do you find more effective?

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Educating Rita deals with many cultural issues. Some of these are addressed in a serious manner, while others are presented humorously.

By such cultural issues, the play is given an ambiguous tone, with a mood which is serious yet in many places comic. By examining examples of both comic and serious points we may understand more clearly which are more effective, and central to the play, as a whole.


At very beginning of Educating Rita, the cultural differences between Frank and Rita are illustrated.

Frank asks Rita her name in a manner which is natural for a Middle Class man,

"You are?"

Rita doesn't understand and returns,

"What am I?"

Even after Frank repeats the question Rita still doesn't understand,

"I'm a what?"

Presently, Rita shows us again how different her background is from Frank's. No respectable member of Middle Class Society would describe a religious nude painting as "erotic".

Rita declares,

"Look at those tits!"

Of course it is most unlikely that this painting "was the pornography of its day".

Working Class Culture is again apparent in Rita, with its sexual innuendoes, a very short while after the first incident.

Rita declares that Howards End "sounds filthy".

Rita interprets the title, Howards End, with Working Class allusions, which are most unfitting for such a book. This misunderstanding is rather amusing for the audience but less so for Frank.

We do not have to wait much longer for Rita to misunderstand Frank again.

Frank refers to the renowned poet, Yeats. Rita, though, assumes that he is talking about quite another Yeats:

Yeats "The wine lodge".

Most predictably, Working Class Culture shows itself again, in Rita, a little later on. Again, Rita judges a book by its title, incorrectly, with sexual connotations. In fact the content of the book...