The act starts of in an academic setting. The book-lined tutorial room on the first floor of a Victorian- built University in the North of England implies it is traditional, upper class University which has strict rules. The books in the tutorial room symbolise Frank’s intelligence and class. For example, he reads a large range of traditional, old fashioned books by Eliot, Emerson, Euripides, and Dickens. These are all well-known authors implying that Frank has read many books. This scene setting foregrounds class mismatch.
The door handle is additionally very stiff and Rita struggles to open the door and get in. The door handle and door symbolises the exclusion that Frank has with the outside world. The plot in this act begins with a calm but energetic mood. This is because Frank is looking for his scotch and then is having a conversation with his girlfriend about dinner. However when Rita joins it is chaos as she cannot get into the room, and then starts smoking with the professor and the professor continues drinking. Furthermore they talk about a painting of a naked lady and about Frank not wanting to teach Rita. However Rita gets the last word and he is going to teach her. This states the inversion of the two characters because Rita has more control than the professor.
In the opening, the audience are introduced to Frank and Rita, Rita is introduced as the natural fool as she is simple, lower-class and lacks any common sense. An illustration of Rita being a natural fool is “look at those tits” when she describes a nude print. However Rita is undermined as she is quick-witted, intelligent and thoughtful. This questions the traditional natural fool and the relief theory and incongruity theory would symbolise Rita. This links with the theory that ‘Comedies tend to include all classes of people. The lower classes are often the butt of the jokes, but they also tend to triumph in unexpected way’ by John Morreall. This theory is very true as Frank is middle class and Rita is working class. Also Rita is introduced as the butt of the joke, however does triumph as she is actually very intelligent. The status quo makes neither Frank nor Rita to be happy as both characters are unhappy in their respected places.
Arguably, you could say that Frank is additionally a fool as he does not understand a joke when Rita says “Oh great! I end up with a beginner!” Frank just believes that Rita misunderstood him and explains how he has worked at the University. Lord of Misrule has been included in the beginning Act in ‘Educating Rita’. Rita talks more than Frank and questions him, implying that she has more dominance and power than the professor. This is role reversal as you would expect the teacher to interview Rita whereas she is testing him. This could be evidence of inversion and subversion as well as Lord of Misrule. Frank symbolises Lord of Misrule because of his drinking at the university which is not allowed by a teacher. Frank’s drinking highlights misery and lack of respect to the University. However Frank does have positive traits, for example his open-mindedness, this shows he is not the stereotypical bad character. There is also wit and word play used in the opening. The example of wordplay is “Forster” “Forced her to do what?” The use of the word ‘Forster’ sounds very similar to ‘forced her’. Finally the example of wit which Rita says to Frank is ‘like a geriatric hippy’, this has been used to describe Frank if he does not get a haircut.
The key theme in the beginning act will be class, gender, education and social status. Class is shown by the poets which they have heard of, for example Rita will read poems by Roger McGough. In contrast, Frank will read poems by Dylan Thomas. Dylan Thomas is a traditional intelligent poet but Roger McGough is more of a popular poet which is easy to understand. Another theme would be education. The poem’s which they read can show how educated they are also