Educating Rita by Willy Russell

Last Updated: 05 Jul 2021
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New experiences often occur in the transition of coming ‘into the world’. People in society learn to experience growth and cope with change in the world and themselves. Willy Russell’s play Educating Rita, demonstrates different pathways between the two protagonists, Frank and Rita and there coming ‘into the world’ journey. In the play Willy Russell uses visual techniques such as: positioning, colouring, facial expression, and symbols. The use of these techniques has allowed the composer to portray a better understanding of the play Educating Rita and how it represents the message of coming ‘into the world’.

One of the main themes in Educating Rita is change. Rita want’s to move into a different world from where she grew up in. At the beginning of the play the audience comes to understand Rita changes her name from Susanne to Rita. This is significant as it shows an indication that she wants to transform herself, leaving her past behind her. Frank however becomes uncomfortable with the idea of being the mechanism of Rita’s change. The theme change is represented in the positioning of the two protagonists as it signifies both Frank and Rita as ‘coming into the world.

The positioning of the characters shows Frank standing over Rita, distinctively reflecting the authority of Frank as he is the professor and the enthusiasm of Rita, as she is getting an education she is finding herself “See I don’t wanna a baby yet. See, I wanna discover myself first”. (Act one Pg. 12) This shows Rita coming ‘into the world’ as her transition of becoming educated helps her discover herself. Frank however has many questions, “what can I teach you? ” (Act one Pg. 3) This displays Frank without authority as he is asking Rita what she wants to learn, meaning that even though Frank is educated it does not mean he has all the answers. The colouring of the visual text also expose the theme of change reveals a sense of coming ‘into the world’ as it shows Rita wearing blue, a bright coloured shirt, which shows the passion for her education. This relates to her experiences ‘coming into the world’ as Rita has experienced life without an education and is now becoming educated through help and knowledge of her professor Frank, she has come to terms with changing the outside you also need to change the inside. But if you want to change y’ have to do it from the inside, don’t y’? Know, like I’m doin’”. (Act one Pg. 11 This shows Rita wanting to change. Frank however is wearing a formal suit, dark and professional colours which demonstrate to the audience that the image being portrayed is different to what his personality is. This is also showing that although Frank is dressed professionally he is still a drunk. Frank is teaching because he has to not because he wants to. This shows how his passion is not there. Frank does not experience a positive change throughout the play. He becomes less sober and more ‘pig headed’ “ Rita: Do y’ need the money?

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Frank: I do as a matter of fact”. (Act one Pg. 4). Franks therefor is depicting that he is teaching Rita for the money, although Rita knows this she does not pay mind to it as she is getting an education she is happy. This shows both Frank and Rita coming ‘into the world’. Another theme that is relevant and used throughout the play to demonstrate ‘into the world’ is Social change. Rita feels as though she is socially disadvantaged as she is not educated with her working class neighbourhood. Her whole ego for an education was when her husband Denny, wanted to have a baby and she was looking for “a better way of livin’ me life. The use of facial expression is used in the visual text to portray feeling and a sense of understanding. Rita looking up at Frank shows her wanting him to understand how much she wants an education. This shows Rita maturing as a working class citizen. ” Rita: But I had a choice. I chose me. Because of what you’d given me I had a choice”. ( Act two Pg. 72) This quote shows Rita’s transition of coming ‘into the world. Franks facial expression is less enthusiastic. It shows him holding a book, portraying that Frank wants Rita to learn herself, backing up the play when he says he does not want to be the mould to Rita’s change.

Although Frank understands Rita wants an education he does not understand why she wants one now. “Frank: But I don’t know what I want to tell you, Rita, I don’t know what I want to teach you. What you already have is valuable. ” (Scene 1 Pg. 48). This shows Frank’s confusion towards Rita. Choices and consequences is another theme used in the play Educating Rita to show the transition of Frank and Rita coming ‘into the world’. Rita’s motivation is to achieve a direction in which she wants her life to follow. Rita’s main choice of an education is so she can make more informed choices. Frank is also having to make choices too.

Rita decides for Frank that he is teaching her and that he is to return “next week”. Frank feels as though he has forced Rita into losing her touch with parts of herself which were unique and precious. Frank’s life is unsatisfying for him but unlike Rita he choses to do nothing about it. It is this choice he makes into him being sent to Australia at the end of the play. The use of symbols used in the visual text is used to demonstrate an understanding of the world around the two protagonists, Frank and Rita. The window is set behind the two characters but is significant as it is referred to a lot in the play.

Rita always looking out of the window to the educated class of people sitting on the grass gives a certainty of her need to escape and to become educated. Frank however won’t give up drinking. He always has an alcoholic drink with him this shows he has a problem. Although Rita uses the window to escape, Frank uses it as a deception. He does not want to change he is satisfied with how he is. Frank does not accept change from choices that have been made. “Frank: No you’ve found a different song, that’s all- and on your lips it’s shrill and hollow and tuneless”. (Act two. Pg. 9) This quote showing the audience that Frank still has not changed from his morbid character at the beginning of the play till’ now. The visual text reveals Rita as an enthusiastic student who wants an education to change her life and her past choices. The text also reveals Frank of his consequences. Frank not being able to stay sober does not allow him to experience change throughout the transition of coming ‘into the world’, to his fullest potential. ‘Into the world’ discusses change and experiences throughout one’s life.. The play Educating Rita mostly supports this.

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Educating Rita by Willy Russell. (2018, Jul 13). Retrieved from

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