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KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 4 (1983)

Developing a full impression of a character

Main image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 4 (1983)
AuthorJessica Hardiman
TopicDeveloping a full impression of character in Educating Rita
Key Words Educating Rita, Willy Russell, Frank, Liverpool, Open University, Education, Literature
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Analysis of Rita's life as a student and as a wife using textual evidence.

This lesson has been developed as part of a scheme of work based on the complete film of Educating Rita, not only the extracts provided on Screenonline. This lesson takes as its basis the scene in which we are first introduced to Denny and see Rita at home (around 21 minutes into the film).

This lesson idea helps students to learn that the structure and organisation of scenes can introduce differing interpretations of a character or situations. Students also practise comparing the two forms and developing their impressions of Rita through inference. They also learn what a conclusion to an essay should include, and practise writing one.

Lesson Objective

  • To be able to be able to develop and sustain independent interpretations of what they read, supporting them with detailed textual reference.


In the starter, display the following quotations and ask students to write a description of themselves in role as Rita, using these quotations to develop empathy for Rita's situation, and to show understanding of her character.

  • "It's that stupid bleedin' handle on the door. You wanna get it fixed!"
  • "See, the educated classes know [swearing's] only words, don't they? It's only the masses who don't understand."
  • "I talk too much, don't I? I know I talk a lot. I don't at home. I hardly ever talk when I'm there."
  • "Don't laugh at me."
  • "I'm not a Susan anymore. I've called meself Rita."

Main Attraction

Remind students that the directors of films make deliberate choices as to where scenes are positioned in the film, and in what order they unfold narrative events. What are the differences so far between the ways that the narrative has been revealed in the script, and the way in which it has been revealed in the film. Explain to students what 'juxtaposition' means, and explain that this can be used in films to make strong contrasts.

Ask students to watch the clip, where Denny is introduced and Rita is seen at home for the first time. Ask students to consider and take notes about the following questions while watching the film:

  • What is Rita like in this scene?
  • How would you describe the relationship she has with Denny?
  • What is Denny like?

Ask students to record evidence for their answers to these questions.

After the clip is shown, group the students into four/fives and ask them to contrast these impressions with those of Rita during her meetings with Frank. What are the audience's impressions of the two 'Rita's? Are they similar in any way? What is the dramatic effect of positioning the scenes in the way that the writer has chosen?

Ask students to find textual evidence from the play to support their ideas. Ask students to write one analysis as a group of four/five, of Rita's personality using the film clip and the written text to find evidence. Ask students to feedback their ideas from their groups, by reading out select passages. Praise students for appropriate formal writing and for supporting their ideas using textual evidence.


End Credits

To finish the lesson, ask students to write a conclusion exploring the dramatic effects of positioning the scene with Denny between the scenes with Frank, in contrast to the play. Explain how to summarise their ideas and to emphasise their own ideas and point of view.


External Links

Video Clips
1. Party preparations (3:18)
2. The wedding (3:41)
3. Summer school (2:55)
4. Dying without Mahler (1:58)
Downloadable Teaching Resources

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Educating Rita (1983)Educating Rita (1983)

Read more about this film

See also

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 1 (1983)KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 1 (1983)

Comparing the play with the film

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 2 (1983)KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 2 (1983)

Looking at characterisation though dialogue as well as mise-en-scene

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 3 (1983)KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 3 (1983)

Dramatic devices and their influence on an audience's interpretations

Thumbnail image of KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 5 (1983)KS3/4 English: Educating Rita 5 (1983)

A speaking and listening activity looking at characterisation