The effect of this is that the audience do not immediately connect with Frank; he is not an open or honest person who expresses himself freely. Therefore it is difficult to get a clear picture of his personality and during the opening scenes the audience neither like nor dislike him. However, some may feel sorrow or pity for him because it is perceptible that he has lost all enthusiasm for life. Frank speaks in Standard English and therefore it is difficult to distinguish where he comes from, though it makes clear that he is a highly educated individual.
Whereas, Rita’s accent indicates that she comes from the region of Liverpool and is also used to reinforce her social status-she clearly has a working class accent. This again enhances the fact that Rita has a more interesting personality than Frank; Russell has used these small details to emphasise the audience’s connection with Rita. As the play progresses Rita tries to lose her working class accent entirely; this reflects the class issues in Britain entirely because at the time people did try to change their accents to sound ‘better’.
The effect of this is that audiences feel pity for her because she has lost her way and individuality; both middle and lower class viewers would disapprove of her attempts to change. This was shown when Rita didn’t get the reaction that she probably expected from Frank, in fact he is shocked about her denial of her true identity. In the earliest scenes Rita speaks before she thinks, this possibly indicates that she is nervous about being in Frank’s company because he is educated-unlike the people she usually socialises with.
This also shows that she is yet to be taught how to do this and shows that she doesn’t yet have the knowledge of how to engage in an intelleactual conversation. Rita also often responds with humourous and witty remarks when unable to answer qustions that are thrown at her. This again reflects the behaviour and mannerisms that would be displayed by the working class members of the audience. Rita is a passionate person who, unlike Frank, appreciates the things around her. Upon entry into the room one of the first things that she notices is a painting of a nude religious scene. In an attempt to begin a converstaion she says, “It’s very erotic.
“. This is a sexual reference which is clearly inappropriate and shows that she does not understand art and literature. This is a humorous technique used by Russell which is slightly tongue in cheek and the audience instantaneously begin to like Rita. The fact that Rita overlooked the religious aspect and described the painting as ‘nice’ also shows that she indeed herself was not religious and therefore could not appreciate the painting fully. Unlike Rita, Frank would’ve understood the religious aspect of the painting and therefore the thought of it being ‘erotic’ would not have crossed his mind.
Frank’s reply to her remark shows that he hasn’t looked at the painting for a long time, and although he can appreciate the painting in terms of an educated view, he has probably never thought about it in the way Rita did. It is likely that Franks merely has this painting to maintain his image and it was most likely painted by a well known professional artist. However, Rita wouldn’t have known this and probably could tell the difference between that panting and one done by an amateur. Frank also seems to have lost all interest in art and women, possibly due to him loveless relationship.
Within Rita’s speech she uses a lot of dysphemism; her language is shocking and impolite. For instance, when she discusses the painting she uses the word ‘tits’. This technique is used by Russell to incorporate another humorous aspect into the scene. This would’ve shocked audiences, yet they’d like her for her brash and interesting personality. At the time when the play was written women were expected to be seen and not heard; therefore Rita’s confidence to express her own opinions would’ve made her like a heroin to the women in the audience.
Rita was the type of person who helped to change the social expectations and reputations of women, hence making them more respected members of society. The message of the play was also to teach males that females were equally as capable of becoming educated. This was emphasised during the end of the play when Russell showed Rita as an educated women whilst her former husband Deny had been left behind in an uneducated world. Indeed, the more wealthy members of the audience would be equally bewildered by Rita as Frank and would be intrigued by her spontaneity, enthusiasm and likeable personality.
Consequently, this also encourages these members of the audience to make an effort to interact with the lower classes in order to get some excitement and to change their own lives. This indeed would also massively benefit the lower classes because they would become a more engaging and respected part of society. Rita is the first Open University student that Frank has tutored; it is evident that he is not accustomed to teaching students from working class backgrounds. Frank is unsure of how to control or focus her attention.
Russell has used this to show that it was rare for these two different social classes to interact with one another. Throughout beginning of the play, Rita refuses to sit down and goes straight to the window where she admires the view and looks down at the students who are studying on the grass. This is what Rita dreams of being-A ‘real’ student! For majority of the time she wanders around Frank’s room, often pacing back and forth between the window and his desk and during the rare times when Rita is sat down, she is often fidgety.
An Instance of this is when she sharpens pencils one after another; this shows that Rita hasn’t been disciplined, but also shows that she is excited about the prospects that may lie ahead. This also shows that although a bond has grown between Rita and Frank, she is still slightly uncomfortable in this environment and standing above Frank allows her to feel in control of the situation. Despite the obvious class division between Rita and Frank, Russell has begun to break down this barrier by displaying the similarities between the two characters.
Even though they have completely different backgrounds and lives, Rita and Frank are much the same and have severe problems; both have problems with their relationships and have developed bad habits as a form of escapism. The audience already know that Frank is a heavy drinker but also learn that Rita is a smoker. In the opening scene of the play Rita and Frank are seen to sharing a cigarette, this again reinforces the Rita’s class because during this time period wealthy people would’ve smoked pipes. Nevertheless, this technique is used by Russell to show that wealth doesn’t matter if a person doesn’t have their sanity and happiness.
The cigarette is used to bring the classes together and to show the audience that they can socialise well with each other. Once again, Rita’s lack of knowledge is shown when she discusses the connection between smoking and cancer ‘But they’re all cowards’. Rita hasn’t been educated about the physiology of the body and therefore it would be unlikely for her to understand the risks of smoking. This is also a humorous aspect which has been incorporated into her character and the audience find her oblivion slightly amusing. During much of the early dialogue between the characters illustrates Rita’s lack of knowledge.
For example when she discusses the work of Roger McGough, a working class contemporary poet, it shows that she has not been educated and Franks appears to have never heard of this poet. Instead he assumes that she is referring to the work of a classic poet called Dylan Thomas. It is apparent that Rita is a person who reads on a regular basis, however her and Frank have knowledge of completely different material. This is because Rita tends to read work which is not literature that would’ve been taught for educational purposes or read by members of the upper class ‘It’s the sort of poetry you can’t understand’.
Rita enters the room like a whirlwind bringing her passion, enthusiasm and spontaneity, Frank admires her for this and sees her as breathe of fresh air compared to the people he would usually interact with. This would also have the same effect upon middle class members of the audience. However despite this, Rita often puts herself down ‘have a job findin’ my brain’. Rita is also not very confident that she will succeed ‘If I pack in the course I’ll post it to y’. This shows that Rita is aware that she doesn’t quite fit in and she feels uncomfortable in this new environment. This impacts the audience greatly and targets their emotions.
They feel sympathetic because they know she will face a long hard struggle to break the class boundaries and become an educated woman. Not only does she have the challenge of beating the class barriers, but she also has the challenge of accomplishing this task as a woman, who many men believed should be a home slaving over their families. At this point, Frank has become intrigued by Rita, as it is not very often that he comes across a person like her; a person who expresses themselves freely and is open and honest ‘I no I take the piss an’ that but I’m dead serious really…
because I’m not y’know, confident like’. Rita opens up to Frank, she feels that because he is educated and therefore will understand why she wants to do the course; she believes he will understand her more than her husband and family who disapprove of the education system altogether. At this point in the play, the bond between the two characters becomes stronger and so does the connection between the two classes. Throughout the play, there are numerous other instances where Rita’s lack of knowledge is shown.
For example she is unaware of the meaning of the word assonance; Frank is slightly amused at this ‘half spluttering’ because this is a poetic term which is considered basic knowledge for an educated individual. Though Rita soon reacts to Frank ‘Don’t Laugh at me’ in a short, fiery and slightly aggressive tone. This was Rita’s way of regaining control of the situation and indeed both characters continued to display this type of behaviour throughout the first scene.
For the whole duration of the first time scene, the two characters make an effort to feel superior to one another. For example, when Frank appears to be the more dominating of the two characters, Rita makes attempts to challenge him with witty remarks and whenever Rita appears to be the most dominating, Frank often corrects her using his in depth knowledge of literature. This use of dialogue between the characters clearly distinguishes the two different background from which they originate.
Russell also incorporated this as an implication that Frank felt slightly intimidated by Rita’s personality, whilst she felt intimidated by his wealth and intellect. Though eventually, this constant shifting of power allows them to form a strong bond by the end of the first few scenes. Frank and Rita also get confused with each other on several occasions in the play such as when Frank refers to the poet “Yeats” and Rita misunderstands him and thinks he is talking about “Yates’s” the wine lodge. This shows that Frank and Rita come from completely different ways of life. Rita