Comedy in Educating Rita

Topics: Social class, Middle class, Working class Pages: 4 (1633 words) Published: September 30, 2014
Aristotle said that comedy is ‘’an imitation of inferior people’’. How far do you think that this applies to the character of Rita in the play ‘Educating Rita’?

Educating Rita is a play that uses the colloquialism of the main protagonist, Rita, to create the comedy element for the audience when she is being tutored by Frank, an untypical university lecturer who works in the setting of 1980’s northern England. In interpreting the characteristics of Rita, it can be identified that comedy is indeed an imitation of inferior people as highlighted by Aristotle who seemed to signify the inferior of society as those who weren’t of royal or noble birth. Including Rita, the two main protagonists of this play could be classed as inferior because of them not belonging where they should. As Frank is a middle class university lecturer, he should be considered a financially comfortable and sophisticated man due to his social class. Educated people of his social class were typically expected to visit the theatre and enjoy sports. They were also expected to watch the BBC, the comment ‘it’s all BBC with you isn’t it?’ portrays Rita’s idea of Frank’s class and the typical activities of his class. As Frank has a problem with alcoholism, he isn’t the normal middle-class lecturer; he is instead used to expose the deterioration he sees within the education system of England at this time. Russell uses Frank’s alcoholism to bring out the comedy in the first act of the play. Frank’s alcoholism is humorous to the audience because of it being so unexpected due to his class and career. In Act One, Frank recites famous classical authors before finding his alcohol, ’Where the hell..? Eliot? No. ‘E’. ‘E’. … Dickens.’ This portrays his apparent loathing for the education system by using the literature on his bookshelf to hide his alcohol, but also shows the depth of his alcohol problem because of him having to conceal it. He does this by the mocking of classical literary works and he also...
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