Good Morning S5! In today’s lesson… Act 1 Scene 5 Characterisation – Rita and Frank Tragedy
Act 1 Scene 5 Summary Rita reveals that Denny has burned all her books. Frank gives Rita the opportunity to end the course. The audience is given a deeper insight into Frank’s drink problem and his inability to write poetry anymore.
Act 1 Scene 5 “Denny found out I was on the pill again; it was my fault, I left my prescription out. He burnt all me books.” Read pages 51-53. Why is Rita’s marriage beginning to break down? Do you have any sympathy for Denny?
Act 1 Scene 5 Rita states that it is as if she is having an affair, when actually, all she is doing is “finding herself.” She realises that this is the root of her marital problems – she has changed in her quest to find herself and Denny doesn’t recognise her. “…he’s wondering where the girl he married has gone to…she’s gone an’ I’ve taken her place.”
Act 1 Scene 5 There is a turning point for Rita in this scene. Frank offers her the chance to give up the course and she immediately responds, “No. No!” Page 52/53 Rather than talk about her marriage problems, Rita prefers to talk about Chekhov. She claims that it is literature that is “providin’ me with life.”
Act 1 Scene 5 Frank Read pages 54-57 Why do you think Frank drinks heavily? How would you describe his relationship with Julia?
Act 1 Scene 5 Alcohol gives Frank confidence; “The great thing about the booze is that it makes one believe that under all the talk, one is actually saying something.” His poetry was so finely crafted and academic in its style that it was devoid of life – it was too dry and intellectual. “Instead of creating poetry, I spent years trying to create literature.”
Act 1 Scene 5 There is a clear parallel between Frank’s criticism of his own poetry and the way he is educating Rita. Just as his poetry is emotionally barren, so he is pushing Rita in the same direction. The more educated she becomes, the less flamboyant her language and behaviour. Instead of responding to texts naturally and with honesty, from the heart, she learns to use her mind to analyse in a cold and characterless fashion.
Act 1 Scene 6 Summary Rita talks excitedly about her visit to the theatre. During the scene, Rita realises she has left a customer under the hairdryer. Frank invites Rita to his home for a party.
Act 1 Scene 6 Read pages 59-63 What is Rita’s reaction to Macbeth? What is Frank’s definition of tragedy? Can you find any more examples of Frank’s attraction to Rita?
Act 1 Scene 6 Rita is excited and enthusiastic about the play – she has rushed to Frank’s office in her dinner hour to tell him about it. She still finds it difficult to express her ideas. “Wasn’t his wife a cow, eh?” The audience are reminded of her limitations – she lacks appropriate critical/academic vocabulary.
Act 1 Scene 6 TRAGEDY ‘A drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavourable circumstances.’ In what ways does Frank have tragic flaws?
Act 1 Scene 7 Summary Rita explains why she couldn’t bring herself to attend the dinner party. She describes her Saturday evening in the pub with her family. She is briefly tempted back to her old way of life.
Act 1 Scene 7 Read pages 65-68 Why does Rita not go to the party? Why does her mother cry in the pub? Why does she ultimately decide to stick with the course?
Act 1 Scene 7 This is a pivotal scene in Rita’s development. Russell undercuts the seriousness of the situation with humour; “It was Spanish.” Rita wants to become a different person, but at this stage in the play she is trapped between two worlds; “I can’t talk to the people I live with anymore. An’ I can’t talk to the likes of them on Saturday, or them out there, because I can’t learn the language. I’m a half-caste.”
Act 1 Scene 7 The invitation to dinner was a symbolic act. To attend the party would mean that Rita would be accepted in Frank’s social circle. However, Rita knows that she is not quite ready for this transition. She knows in her heart that she doesn’t have the knowledge, language or style of the middle-class academics just yet.
Act 1 Scene 7 The night in the pub is a turning point for Rita. When she notices her mother crying, Rita vows never to end up like her, who clearly feels unfulfilled in her life. For Rita, education represents a route out of her working class background and away from a life of drudgery. Just like her mother, Rita is searching for a new song to sing.
Act 1 Scene 8 Summary Rita leaves Denny Despite her problems, she wants to carry on as normal. Frank and Rita discuss her essay on Macbeth.
Act 1 Scene 8 Read pages 69-71 How do we know Rita is determined to change? Why is Frank unsure?
Act 1 Scene 8 Denny has issued an ultimatum – “stop comin’ here an’ come off the pill or get out altogether.” Rita wants to discuss her Macbeth essay instead of home troubles. Frank thinks her essay is “a totally honest, passionate account..” but in terms of passing exams, it is “worthless.” Rita’s strength and determination are clear at the end where she rips up her essay and starts again.
Act 1 Scene 8 Important points The break up of Rita’s marriage is the last tie with her former life and she is now free to develop as she pleases. Any sympathy we felt for Denny now disappears when we consider how he has restricted her intellectual growth. Frank recognises that to change Rita may not be positive. “I don’t know that I want to teach you. What you already have is valuable.”
Act 1 Scene 8 The destruction of her marriage is a direct result of her education. It is clear to Frank that in training Rita to change her vibrant character, he is actually negating all the features that attracted him to her in the first place. “I’m going to have to change you.” A highly dramatic end to the first act.