Educating Rita & Belonging

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Educating Rita

Question: How is the concept of belonging presented in Educating Rita? Extract One: Act 1 Scene 1 Willy Russell explores the concept of belonging in the first scene of Educating Rita through language and dramatic techniques. It is evident from the moment that Frank and Rita meet that their perceptions of belonging are vastly different. Rita's entrance, "I'm comin' in, aren't I? It's that stupid bleedin' handle on the door. You wanna get it fixed!" shocks both Frank and the audience in her apparent ignorance of social conventions surrounding admission to a university lecturer's office. Her use of slang and contractions of words suggests that she belongs to the working class rather than to Frank's educated class. Her tone of exasperation is humorous in her lack of awareness of the power relations in this situation. Indeed, Frank's "slightly confused" facial expression signal that they have different perceptions of this social situation. Furthermore, there is a lack of adjacency pairing in the interchange: Frank: You are? Rita: What am I? Frank: Pardon? Rita: What? This demonstrates a disjunction between Frank's understanding of social etiquette and Rita's understanding of question formation. Frank is further unnerved by Rita's casual commentary on the "nice picture": "Look at those tits". His unease is shown in his use of fillers and pause, "Erm - yes, I suppose it is - nice…." Rita's language register, coarse language and behaviour all signal that she does not belong in a formal academic setting. However, humour is created at her apparent lack of awareness of her non-belonging in this setting. Yet, the audience does not laugh at her in contempt, but is rather charmed by her individuality in a setting that often demands pompous conformity to social norms. It is clear that Rita's presence in this setting will challenge Frank's expectations and may potentially enrich him. There is simultaneously a suggestion that Rita may face many barriers if she...
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