Educating Rita

Frank Character Analysis

A professor in his mid-fifties who takes on Rita as a student. Frank used to be a little-known but well-respected poet, but he stopped writing when his wife left him. In the years since, he has started drinking heavily and doubting the value of his role as an educator. When Rita asks Frank to tutor her, for instance, he tells her that he knows “absolutely nothing,” and that she’d be better off if she didn’t study with him. However, she refuses to leave because she admires his unconventional methods. Likewise, he comes to appreciate her unique mind, believing that her untrained intelligence is spectacular. Although Frank lives with his girlfriend, Julia (a former student of his), it isn’t long before he develops romantic feelings for Rita. Thankfully, he never physically acts on these feelings, but he does sometimes allow his interest in her to interfere with his role as her teacher, as he tries to keep Rita from changing herself too much. Because he values her unmitigated intelligence, Frank urges Rita to remain true to herself, not wanting her to erase herself in an attempt to become an intellectual. In turn, his dissatisfaction with academic life mingles with his romantic feelings for Rita, ultimately causing him to resent her when she starts to live the life of a cultured academic instead of a witty working-class woman. By the end of the play, Frank’s drinking problem gets the better of him, and the university forces him to take a two-year sabbatical in Australia.

Frank Quotes in Educating Rita

The Educating Rita quotes below are all either spoken by Frank or refer to Frank. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Methuen edition of Educating Rita published in 2007.
Act One, Scene One Quotes

Well, then you shouldn’t have prepared supper, should you? Because I said, darling, I distinctly recall saying that I would be late…Yes, yes, I probably shall go to the pub afterwards—I shall no doubt need to go to the pub afterwards if only to mercifully wash away some silly woman’s attempts to get into the mind of Henry James or Thomas Hardy or whoever the hell it is we’re supposed to study on this course…Christ, why did I take this on? …Yes, darling, yes, I suppose I did take it on to pay for the drink… Determined to go to the pub? When did I need determination to get me into a pub…?

Related Characters: Frank (speaker), Rita, Julia
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
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See, the properly educated, they know it’s only words, don’t they? It’s only the masses who don’t understand. But that’s because they’re ignorant; it’s not their fault, I know that, but sometimes they drive me mental. I do it to shock them sometimes; y’ know if I’m in the hairdresser’s—that’s where I work—I’ll say somethin’ like ‘I’m as fucked as a fanny on a Friday night!’ and some of the customers, they’ll have a right gob on them just ’cos I come out with something like that. […] But it doesn’t cause any kind of fuss with educated people though, does it? Because they know it’s only words and they don’t worry. But these stuck-up ones I meet, they think they’re royalty just because they don’t swear. An’ anyway, I wouldn’t mind but it’s the aristocracy who swear more than anyone, isn’t it, they’re effing and blinding all day long; with them it’s all, ‘I say, the grouse is particularly fucking lovely today although I’m afraid the spuds are a bit bollocks don’t you think?’ (She sighs.) But y’ can’t tell them that round our way. It’s not their fault; they can’t help it. But sometimes I hate them. (Beat.) God…what’s it like to be free?

Related Characters: Rita (speaker), Frank
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
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They expect too much. They walk into the hairdresser’s and expect to walk out an hour later as a different person. I tell them, I’m just a hairdresser, not a plastic surgeon. See, most of them, that’s why they come the hairdresser’s—because they want to be changed. But if you wanna change y’ have to do it from the inside, don’t y’? Know like I’m doin’…tryin’ to do. Do you think I will? Think I’ll be able to do it.

Related Characters: Rita (speaker), Frank
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:
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I’ve been realisin’ for ages that I was…slightly out of step. I’m twenty-six. I should have had a baby by now; everyone expects it—I’m sure my husband thinks I’m infertile. He’s always goin’ on about havin’ babies. We’ve been tryin’ for two years now; but I’m still on the pill! See, I don’t want a baby yet. I wanna find myself first, discover myself. Do you understand that?

He nods.


Yeh. They wouldn’t round our way. I’ve tried to explain to my husband but between you an’ me I think he’s just thick! No, not thick; blind, that’s what he is. He can’t see because he doesn’t want to see. If I try an’ do anything different he gets a gob on him; even if I’m just reading or watchin’ somethin’ different on the telly he gets really narked.

Related Characters: Rita (speaker), Frank, Denny
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:
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I’ll make a bargain with you, yes? I’ll teach you everything I know…but if I do that then you must promise never to come back here…because there’s nothing here for you! You see I never…I didn’t want to teach this course in the first place; allowed myself to be talked into it. But I knew it was wrong and seeing you only confirms my suspicion. My dear, it’s not your fault, just the luck of the draw that you got assigned to me; but get me you did. And the thing is, between you, me and the walls, I’m really rather an appalling teacher. Most of the time that doesn’t really matter—appalling teaching is quite in order when most of my students are themselves fairly appalling. And the others manage to get by despite me. But you, young woman, you are quite, quite different, you are seeking a very great deal indeed; and I’m afraid I cannot provide it. Everything I know—and you must listen to this—is that I know absolutely nothing.

Related Characters: Frank (speaker), Rita
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act One, Scene Two Quotes

Rita: See, if I’d started takin’ school seriously then I would have had to become different from my mates; an’ that’s not allowed.

Frank: Not allowed by whom?

Rita: By y’ mates, y’ family, by everyone. So y’ never admit that school could be anythin’ other than useless an’ irrelevant. An’ what you’ve really got to be into are things like music an’ clothes and getting’ pissed an’ coppin’ off an’ all that kind of stuff. Not that I didn’t go along with it because I did. But at the same time, there was always somethin’ tappin’ away in my head, tryin’ to tell me I might have got it all wrong. But I’d just put the music back on or buy another dress an’ stop worryin’. ’Cos there’s always something that can make y’ forget. An’ so y’ keep on goin’, tellin’ y’self that life is great—there’s always another club to go to, a new feller to be chasin’, a laugh an’ a joke with the girls. Till one day, you just stop an’ own up to yourself. Y’ say, ‘Is this it? Is this the absolute maximum that I can expect from this livin’ lark?’ An’ that’s the really big moment that is. Because that is when you’ve got to decide whether it’s gonna be another change of dress or a change in yourself.

Related Characters: Rita (speaker), Frank (speaker)
Related Symbols: Dresses
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act One,  Scene Three Quotes

Look, there’s a way of answering examination questions that is…expected. It’s a sort of accepted ritual. It’s a game, with rules. And you have to observe those rules. Poets can ignore those rules; poets can break every rule in the book; poets are not trying to pass examinations. But Rita, you are. And therefore you must observe the rules.

Related Characters: Rita (speaker), Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
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There is no contentment. Because there’s no meanin’ left. (Beat.) Sometimes, when y’ hear the old ones tellin’ stories about the past, y’ know, about the war or when they were all strugglin’, fightin’ for food and clothes and houses, their eyes light up while they’re tellin y’ because there was some meanin’ then. But what’s…what’s stupid is that now…now that most of them have got some kind of a house an’ there is food an’ money around, they’re better off but, honest, they know they’ve got nothin’ as well—because the meanin’s all gone; so there’s nothin’ to believe in. It’s like there’s this sort of disease but no one mentions it; everyone behaves as though it’s normal, y’ know, inevitable, that there’s vandalism an’ violence an’ houses burnt out and wrecked by the people they were built for. But this disease, it just keeps on bein’ hidden; because everyone’s caught up in the ‘Got-to-Have’ game, all runnin’ round like headless chickens chasin’ the latest got-to-have tellies an’ got-to-have cars, got-to-have garbage that leaves y’ wonderin’ why you’ve still got nothin’—even when you’ve got it. (Beat.) I suppose it’s just like me, isn’t it, y’ know when I was buyin’ dresses, keepin’ the disease covered up all the time.

Related Characters: Rita (speaker), Frank
Related Symbols: Dresses
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act One, Scene Six Quotes

I’m all right with you, here in this room; but when I saw those people you were with I couldn’t come in. I would have seized up. Because I’m a freak. I can’t talk to the people I live with any more. An’ I can’t talk to the likes of them on Saturday, or them out there, because I can’t learn the language. I’m an alien. I went back to the pub where Denny was, an’ me mother, an’ our Sandra, an’ her mates. I’d decided I wasn’t comin’ here again. I went into the pub an’ they were singin’, all of them singin’ some song they’d learnt from the jukebox. An’ I stood in that pub an’ thought, just what in the name of Christ am I trying to do? Why don’t I just pack it in, stay with them, an’ join in with the singin’?

Related Characters: Rita (speaker), Frank, Denny, Rita’s Mother
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Well, I did join in with the singin’, I didn’t ask any questions, I just went along with it. But when I looked round, my mother had stopped singin’, an’ she was cryin’. Everyone just said she was pissed an’ we should get her home. So we did, an’ on the way I asked her why. I said, ‘Why are y’ cryin’, Mother?’ She said, ‘Because—because we could sing better songs than those.’ Ten minutes later, Denny had her laughing and singing again, pretending she hadn’t said it. But she had. And that’s why I came back. And that’s why I’m staying.

Related Characters: Rita (speaker), Frank, Denny, Rita’s Mother
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act Two, Scene Three Quotes

Rita (angrily): What d’ y’ mean be careful? I can look after myself. Just ’cos I’m learnin’, just ’cos I can do it now an’ read what I wanna read an’ understand without havin’ to come runnin’ to you every five minutes y’ start tellin’ me to be careful. (She paces about.)

Frank: Because—because I care for you—I want you to care for yourself.

Rita: Tch. (She goes right up to Frank. After a pause.) I—I care for you, Frank…But you’ve got to—to leave me alone a bit. I’m not an idiot now, Frank—I don’t need you to hold me hand as much…I can—I can do things on me own more now…And I’m careful. I know what I’m doin’. Just don’t—don’t keep treatin’ me as though I’m the same as when I first walked in here.

Related Characters: Rita (speaker), Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:
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Frank Character Timeline in Educating Rita

The timeline below shows where the character Frank appears in Educating Rita. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One, Scene One
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In his austere university office, Frank searches his alphabetized bookshelves. When he finds the section he’s looking for, he removes several... (full context)
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A knock sounds on Frank’s office door. Promising Julia that he’ll only have “a couple of pints” (but whispering, “four…!”... (full context)
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...she adds that they must accept anybody, suggesting that they’re probably “desperate.” She then offers Frank a cigarette, which he declines because he has quit smoking. Rita disapproves, bemoaning the fact... (full context)
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Frank offers Rita a drink, and though she says that scotch kills a person’s brain cells,... (full context)
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Rita decides to take Frank up on his offer, saying she will indeed borrow Howards End, adding that she can... (full context)
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Rita asks Frank if he minds that she swears, and he assures her that he doesn’t. This pleases... (full context)
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Interested in the considerations Rita has unearthed, Frank offers her another drink while pouring himself one. As he does so, Rita admits that... (full context)
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Frank says he’s surprised by Rita’s name, since her forms indicate that her first name begins... (full context)
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Frank asks Rita about her experience as a hairdresser, and she tells him that the clients... (full context)
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Frank reiterates admiringly that Rita wants to “know” “everything.” He then pauses for a moment and... (full context)
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Once again, Frank offers Rita another drink while pouring himself one. “When d’ you actually, y’ know, start... (full context)
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After Frank’s tirade, Rita slowly walks out the door. Moments later, though, she comes back and struggles... (full context)
Act One, Scene Two
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When the lights come on, Frank is in his office looking out the window. After approaching the bookcase several times but... (full context)
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Rita looks out the window and speaks admiringly about the campus and its students, telling Frank about her own experience in school. She explains that when she was younger, she couldn’t... (full context)
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...dress, the sort of dress you’d only see on a educated woman.” Changing the topic, Frank and Rita discuss an essay Rita wrote about Rubyfruit Jungle. Frank tells her that her... (full context)
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In light of what he has just said about literary criticism, Frank asks Rita to write an analysis of E.M. Forster’s Howards End—an assignment that annoys Rita... (full context)
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Rita asks if she can buy some of Frank’s poetry, but he tells her that his books are out of print, and that she... (full context)
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Rita asks if Frank even likes Julia, and he says, “I like her enormously. It’s myself that I’m not... (full context)
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At this point, Frank tries to direct Rita’s attention back to Howards End, but she refuses, telling him that... (full context)
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“You’d think there was something wrong with education to hear you talk,” Rita says, and Frank suggests that “perhaps there is.” Rita then asks why Frank’s teaching her. “Because it’s what... (full context)
Act One,  Scene Three
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Sitting at his desk, Frank reads one of Rita’s essays as she rushes into the room and apologizes for being... (full context)
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Frank tries to get Rita to see that she won’t pass her exams if she writes... (full context)
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...don’t have a “culture,” suggesting that there’s no such thing as “working-class culture.” In turn, Frank suggests that she should perhaps open her eyes to her surroundings. “I do,” she says.... (full context)
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Listening to Rita’s ideas about “contentment” and society’s “Got-to-Have” mentality, Frank suggests that she should take a politics course, but she says she hates politics. She... (full context)
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Hearing Rita move from talking about Peer Gynt to “contentment” to her problems with Denny, Frank quotes Howards End, saying, “Only connect.” Rita scoffs at this, begging Frank not to go... (full context)
Act One, Scene Four
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On a snowy night, Rita comes to Frank’s office without an essay to hand in. She explains that Denny found her birth control... (full context)
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Frank asks Rita if she wants to “abandon this course” in light of her personal troubles,... (full context)
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Hearing Frank talk about drinking, Rita asks him if he drank back when he was a poet.... (full context)
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Despite his protests, Rita urges Frank to go to a play with her. In response, he asks what he’d tell Julia,... (full context)
Act One, Scene Five
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While Frank eats lunch, Rita bursts into his office. Out  of breath, she tells him she only... (full context)
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Frank explains that the protagonists of a tragedy go “blindly on and on” without knowing that... (full context)
Act One, Scene Six
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In his office, Frank tells Rita that Julia was upset that Rita and Denny never came to the dinner... (full context)
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Rita tells Frank that she didn’t want to go to his house “just to play the court jester.”... (full context)
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...mother, spending her time singing in pubs and getting drunk. “And why don’t you?” asks Frank. Frustrated by this question, Rita makes it clear that she can’t simply go back to... (full context)
Act One, Scene Seven
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While Frank is grading papers, Rita enters the office holding a suitcase. Apparently, Rita broke up with... (full context)
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Having heard Frank say that her Macbeth essay wouldn’t pass an exam, Rita decides that the piece is,... (full context)
Act Two, Scene One
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Sitting at his desk, Frank busies himself with typing, periodically pausing to sip from a mug. Before long, Rita enters,... (full context)
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Frank explains to Rita that Julia left him while they were in France, but now they’re... (full context)
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Rita asks Frank what they’ll be studying. Her chipper attitude seems to bother him, though he doesn’t say... (full context)
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Frank chooses a collection of poetry by William Blake from the shelves, and Rita recites one... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Two
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Rita enters Frank’s office and starts talking to him in a strange new voice. When he asks why... (full context)
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As Frank turns his attention back to grading one of Rita’s essays, she tells him that she... (full context)
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Rita rejects Frank’s suggestion that she’s falling in love. “All right,” he says, “but please stop burbling on... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Three
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While Rita sits by the window and reads, Frank enters the office, exceedingly drunk. “Fuck them, eh, Rita,” he says, eventually explaining that his... (full context)
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Rita says that Frank’s drunkenness is perhaps unfair to his students, but he refutes this point, claiming that even... (full context)
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Frank refuses to agree with Rita’s conception of Blake’s poem, arguing that the verses in question... (full context)
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As Frank heaves himself into his desk chair, Rita asks what kind of score her essay would... (full context)
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“Look, Frank,” Rita says, “I don’t have to go along with your views on Blake, y’ know.... (full context)
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Just before Rita leaves, Frank tells her that he finally read Rubyfruit Jungle. “It’s excellent,” he determines. “Oh, go away,... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Four
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Rita enters Frank’s office and apologizes for being late, saying that she lost track of time because she... (full context)
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...a lot of the people I mix with fascinating.” With his back turned to her, Frank says, “Perhaps—perhaps you don’t want to waste your time coming here any more?” This annoys... (full context)
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In response to Frank’s suggestion that she can stop coming, Rita says, “If you could stop pouring that junk... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Five
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Sitting at his desk with a bottle of whiskey before him, Frank hears a knock on the door and tells Rita to enter. He asks her what... (full context)
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When Rita asks what Frank means, he picks up his poetry and calls it a “clever, pyrotechnical pile of self-conscious... (full context)
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Continuing to insult Frank, Rita says, “I don’t need you.” Getting up, she moves toward the door, saying, “I... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Six
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Incredibly drunk, Frank leans against the bookshelf and talks into the phone. Slurring his words, he asks the... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Seven
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Wrapped in a winter coat, Rita enters Frank’s empty office and places a Christmas card on a filing cabinet, where many others are... (full context)
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...first, she could only stare at the question on her exam and think about what Frank had once said about it. “You think you gave me nothing, did nothing for me,”... (full context)
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Frank asks Rita if she answered the Peer Gynt question by writing, “Do it on the... (full context)
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“Whatever you do,” Frank says, “you might as well take this. It’s erm—well, it’s er—it’ a dress really. I... (full context)