A middle-aged, middle-class professor and former poet who tutors Rita. Frank is disillusioned with his life. He drinks heavily, does not care about teaching, has trouble with relationships, and excoriates his own failed attempts at being a poet. Rita is breath of fresh air for him and he comes to care for and value her, but he is occasionally paternalistic and struggles with her burgeoning independence.
A lively young woman from the working class, Rita seeks an education to attain self-fulfillment and a better life. She struggles with a boorish husband who feels betrayed, the limitations of her upbringing and her difficulties mastering the English curriculum, and Frank's growing bitterness toward her. She does makes many significant and minor changes, eventually becoming educated and no longer needing Frank, but questions regarding the long-term impact of her education, how much she really changed, and whether she is actually much better off are left largely unanswered.
Never seen onstage. Denny is Rita's husband, although they separate. He is part of her old life, and resents her foray into a new world that does not seemingly include him. He is hostile to the idea of Frank as her teacher, to her taking of birth control to preclude having a child, and to her continuing her studies.
Never seen onstage. Julia is Frank's live-in lover, a younger, educated woman who admires Frank but is frustrated with his frequent absences. She decides not to accompany him to Australia.
Never seen onstage. Trish is Rita's flatmate after she leaves her husband. A fellow student, Trish appears to be classy and tasteful, but by the end of the play Rita admits there is more to her than meets the eye after coming upon her trying to kill herself.
Never seen onstage. A loud and attractive student in Rita's new friend group, he appears to be interested in Rita and invites her to vacation with his friends and himself over the holidays.
Never seen onstage. Rita's mother is working class and part of her old world; nonetheless, through Rita's descriptions, she seems to be kind-hearted and at least unconsciously interested in a better life. She also appears supportive of her daughter's choices.
Educating Rita Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Educating Rita is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.