Educating Rita


Willy Russell

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Themes and Colors
Social Class and Identity Theme Icon
Mentorship Theme Icon
Institutionalized Education vs. Experiential Education Theme Icon
Self-Worth Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Educating Rita, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Social Class and Identity

In Educating Rita, Frank and Rita come from different backgrounds. Frank has lived a comfortable life as a university professor for many years, even enjoying some minor success as a poet in his early days. In contrast, Rita hails from England’s working class and spends long hours on her feet as a hairdresser. Throughout the play, though, Rita wants to shift away from this identity as a young working-class woman. To do this, she…

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In Educating Rita, Willy Russell demonstrates that mentorship relationships are often fraught with complex interpersonal dynamics. From the outset of the play, Frank and Rita’s rapport seems to go beyond that of a standard teacher-student relationship. Russell quickly establishes that both Frank and Rita appreciate one another as individuals, suggesting that mentors and pupils often form bonds that transcend the very context of their relationships. Having said that, it’s worth noting that Frank’s…

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Institutionalized Education vs. Experiential Education

As made obvious by the title, Educating Rita is a play about teaching and learning. In her pursuit to secure an education, Rita enrolls in Open University, a public institution that enables her to sign up for tutoring sessions with Frank even though she isn’t a matriculating student at the university where he teaches. When she begins her sessions, she must face the ins and outs of institutionalized education, where she discovers there are sets…

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In Educating Rita, Willy Russell demonstrates that a person’s sense of self-worth doesn’t always correspond to tangible measures of success. When Rita first enrolls in Open University to study with Frank, she does so because she wants to realize her full potential. Fortunately, she achieves this goal, but she soon realizes that many of the people around her—even those who have accomplished much more in terms of academic success—are miserable or think quite…

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