Educating Rita

Educating Rita Literary Elements





Setting and Context

1980s Liverpool, England

Narrator and Point of View

Third-person limited.

Tone and Mood

Variable dependent upon the character, as there is no dominant narrator or authorial voice. When Rita is speaking the tone is bright and breathless, and when Frank is speaking it is world-weary.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Both Rita and Frank serve both functions at different times.

Major Conflict

Whether or not Rita will become educated and "civilized," and if that education will make her life better.


When Rita announces to Frank that her husband and her split up, and that she wants to move forward with her education even if it is exhausting and completely changes her.


-All of Frank's drinking throughout the text foreshadows his eventual (literal!) fall and subsequent suspension.
-Frank's explanation of Macbeth's tragic flaw foreshadows his own downfall.


"We split up, Rita, because of poetry." -Frank, 24
"It's burnt." -Rita, 35


-Frank mentions the names of many famous writers and poets: Emerson, Eliot, Euripides, Dickens
-Rita reads E.M. Forster, Peer Gynt, works by Blake, and others
-Allusion to Sylvia Plath with the description of Julia as someone who "spends a good deal of time with her head in the oven" (25)
-Rita sees Macbeth and quotes it (43)


See other entry.






-"Darling, you could incinerate ratatouille, radiate it, cook it in the ovens of hell, napalm the bloody stuff and still it wouldn't be overcooked!" -Rita, 2
-"We pluck birds from the sky and nail them down to learn how they fly" -Frank, 26

Use of Dramatic Devices

As a drama, the play has many stage directions for characters, including the way the characters are to move, interact with their environment, and interact with each other. As this is a contemporary play, there are no traditional devices like a chorus. There is no breaking of the fourth wall, and there are no extended monologues.