img_3399A bit of background info:

Willy Russell was born in Liverpool in 1947.

He became a hairdresser on leaving school,

undertook a variety of jobs,

also writing songs for local folk clubs.,songs and sketches for local radio programmes.

At 20 years of age, he returned to college and became a teacher in Toxteth, after which he began to become interested in writing drama.

Parallel to Rita’s own journey to culture.





When Frank meets Rita

Culture clash

stage setting, directions : didascaliesvictorian-building

Victorian : built during the Victorian Era (Queen Victoria, 1837-1901)

bay window : baie vitrée baywindow

print : copy in this instance


TS Elliot : Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965) a major English  poet and critic.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) : famous English Novelist (Oliver Twist, David Coperfield…)

to reveal : to show

slug : lampée, rasade argot=slang

a gulp : une gorgée

slurred : prononcé indistinctement.

A man who shifts a lot of booze : a man who drinks a lot of alcohol argot

to shift : to move (here, to drink)

booze : argot pour bière et alcool

Open University : a university offering distance learning courses backed by TV and radio programs as well as summer school and personal tuition. No formal academic degree is required for entry to its courses.

Henry James (1814-1916), major American novelist and playwright-

prospect : here, idea

done : cooked

to the point of abuse : for too long

to abuse : to treat badly

a pint : a measure of beer (approx. 1/2 liter)

to pop off : to go away quickly familiar

bleedin=bloody= satané

wanna : want to, ought to

to dump : to let something fall carelessly

sod : person argot

admission paper : entry form

to turn s.o. on : exciter le désir de quelqu’un

I’ll bet he did : je te parie qu’il l’a fait

to bet : parier

Men Only : sex magazine

dead : here extremely

to take s.o.= to accept s.o.

proper= real, conventional

to embrace= here to include

to rummage : to search about. Farfouiller

Brownie : jeannettes (scouts)

to pack up : to stop (argot)

dubious : doubtful

to challenge : défier

Dylan Thomas : Welsh Poet

Roger McGough : contemporary Liverpool poet and musician

to go out on the ale : to go out to get boozed, to get pissed (very drunk)

idle : aimless

to have a job : here, to have difficulty

Howards End, Novel by E.M. Forster (1910) He was a religious sceptic (born 1879 died in 1970)

end rear : le derrière

filthy : indecent

ta : thank you

to pack sth in : to give up sth

soft : silly, stupid

Cheers : Tchin Tchin

to enrol : to register

eventually : faux amis (finalement)

cos : because argot.

fuckin’ rubbish : absolutely worthless

I’m really fucked : I’m exhausted

It doesn’t half : it really does

fuss : faire du chichi

stuck-up : snob

effin’ and bleeding : swearing

facking : interjection le plus souvent

grouse : perdrix, plat de bourgeois

round our way : in our neighbourhood

swivel chair : fauteuil pivotant

how am I scoring : comment je m’en tire ?

Ten out of ten : six sur six


Intimate/friendly conversation.


We are at the very beginning of the play. The two characters meet.

Frank is in his study and talks to his partner, telling her how frustrated he is with his job. He gives clear signs of alcohol addiction.

Suddenly, the door opens on a very aggressive Rita who immediately warns her teacher that he shouldn’t delay repairing his door knob.

There is a whole passage of testing on behalf of Rita and amusement on behalf of Frank. They both end up being quite friendly and happy to have such a student and such a tutor.


E-R : Passage2 : p. 20 l.1 – p 23 l.31


answer questions of exercise 7A (regarding your enrollment at ECGA) and enter this information in the weblog (ex. 8B) p. 75




Frank Interviews Rita


Chance : opportunity

to talk at s.o. : to speak to s.o.without listening to the replies

a- d’y’mind : do you mind, do you object

b- to be bothered : to be worried

please note the difference of style between a- and b they have two different lexical registers. One is very informal and even colloquial while the other one is extremely academic and formal.

to nod : acquiescer (contraire de to shake head cf. ER1 19:14)

A sip : une gorgée

assonance : a rhyme where only vowels rhyme (ex. sharper/garter)

the reason why she asks this question is much clearer in the movie.

half-spluttering : s’étouffant à moitié

Yeats : William Bulter Yeats (1865-1939), major Irish poet

lodge : here shop, Yeats Wine Lodge was a chain of wine bars in the north of England specialized in cheap Australian white wine (suffering from the whites, too much wine in yeats) now a normal wine stores chain.

Loads : des tonnes

admission papers : formulaires d’inscriptions

to scratch out : rayer une mention


Rita Mae Brown : one of the founders of the gay and the women’s movement. She wrote Rubyfruit Jungle, a novel about a proud young girl which became a best seller in the mid 70s

D’y’wanna lend it ? Incorrect form for « Would you like to borrow it ? »

blurb : pitch, 4ème de couverture

Frank Harris : English author (1856-1931) who became famous after his death with the publication of My life and Love (an account of his sexual relationship with famous people, full of gossips)

quality : here frankness

to get something : to  understand sth

copper : policeman (cop)

it’s a totally reversed situation where the student, who doesn’t know a thing, tells her professor « he hasn’t got it= hasn’t understood »

honest= honestly

  1. Alfred Prufrock : character in a poem by T.S. Eliot : the love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock
  2. Arthur Rank (1888-1972) : founder of an entertainment company, Rank Organisation

I’ve not half got a lot to learn : j’ai à apprendre, et pas qu’un peu…

to bleach : décolorer les cheveux, les éclaircir

drier : hair drier, blow drier

stubble : paille, chaume

wig : false hair

pensioners : retraités

hearin’ aid cord= hearing aid wire

ear lobe : lobe de l’oreille

liability : danger public ici (responsabilité, fardeau d’habitude)

there’s a fad on : une mode pour (argotique) : it’s trendy

Farrah Fawcett Majors used to be the very popular star of the mythical series Charlie’s Angels.

Blank : doesn’t understandfarah-fawcett

ITV : TV commerciale en Grande-Bretagne, considérée comme populaire et low class, contrairement à la BBC, sans pub à l’époque et pour les intellectuels.

A Flora man : personnage issu d’une pub pour de la margarine cherchant à rendre les hommes plus attentifs à ce qu’ils mangeaient. C’est le type idéal dans la quarantaine qui cherche à aider sa femme et ses enfants en contribuant aux taches ménagères.

Pebble : caillou, gravier (pour se moquer du pain naturel avec des céréales)

lightenin’ = éclaircir

know : you know

committed : determined.


You say something TO SOMEONE




the number of references to talking conveys the impression of a constant babble.


This passage deals with the encounter between two almost opposite worlds. The blasé university professor and the very eager hairdresser who is fed up with her life and customers who believe that a simple haircut could make them look like the celebrities of their time.


The humour in this passage is particularly obvious when they discuss Rita’s name, the references to popular culture and Frank’s name. Their references indeed come from the popular ITV for Rita and the BBC for Frank.


However, when we compare this passage with the filmed version, we are better able to grasp the reason why Rita asks as the first literary question to Frank, « what is an assonance ? ». In the film indeed, she has met students who were criticising Frank for not being able to explain what an assonance is.


>HOMEWORK : FOR JANUARY 19TH : Read, summarize and note vocabulary of the scene 2. If possible, answer as well the questions below :

  1. 21 lines 1 to 25
  1. General comprehension : Situate the passage (Who,what, where, when, why, how) ;

Example :

this passage is situated at the beginning of the play. It takes place in the first scene right after Franke and Rita has initial encounter.

both characters are the only ones appearing in display as the other characters are only referred to.

They are in Frank’s study which will be the only place where they  meet throughout the play.

Rita talks about her job and she says she can’t swear when she’s at work because she deals with her customers who are uneducated people who pretend to be  of a higher social stop then they really are or simply because they assume this is how people of higher status would behave .

She tells Frank she talks a lot (there is a recurrence of the terms related to talking right before this passage). There are some comic elements when Frank mentions about the poet Yeats and she thinks he’s refering to a wine lodge. There’s a cultural shock. Rita is less cultivated (educated) than Frank.

Other questions about this passage :

  1. why is Frank puzzled about Rita’s name and what do you think of her explanation ?
  2. How do you interpret the way names are mentioned in this passage?
  3. Do you remember the scene in the movie ? Was it similar ?
  4. What types of artistic references are made in this passage ?

VOCABULARY in this scene:

I take the piss an’ that : I make fun of things

go away : allez, arrête de me faire marcher

soft : silly

to be out of step : not to conform to what other people expect

to moan : to complain

to come off : to stop taking

to be on sth : prendre des médicaments

to fiddle : to play aimlessly

mental : mad, crazy

thick : stupid

dead narked : very angry

to piss off : to go away.

Estate : HLM

Formby : residential suburb of Liverpool

filing cabinet : secrétaire

to make a bargain : passer un marché, un accord

suspicion : soupçon

it’s not your fault : ce n’est pas ta faute

the draw : la loterie

appalling : affreux, atroce

actually : really

to get by : se débrouiller, s’en tirer

Guiness : bière irlandaise, boisson populaire

Wilde : Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), dramaturge, poète et écrivain irlandais mort dans la misère (en raison de son homosexualité) après avoir connu la gloire

you’re gonna bleedin’ well teach me : tu n’as pas le choix !

Piss artist : s.o. who’s often drunk

to get done : to have sth done

geriatric hippie : old hippie

geriatrics : la gériatrique.




to flounce: bouger vite et impatiemment.

he doesn’t half get on my tits: he really gets on my nerves

evidence: proof

dirty sod: insult (sale con)

booze: alcohol, beer more often than not

Harold Robins: American novelist (born 1916). He wrote A stone for Danny Fisher, a novel about a boxer in New York.

hard luck: bad luck

to fail something: rater quelque chose.

to devour: dévorer

pulp fiction: cheap popular literature (“romans de gare”)

to be well read: to have a good literary education

Sons and Lovers: Novel by D.H. Lawrence published in 1913. The author was a British novelist.

Noel Coward (1899-1973): popular English actor

Somerset Maugham (pronounce Mome) (1974-1965) famous English novelist. He wrote Of Human Bondage which is mentioned below and Rita’s remark refers to some erotic sado-masochist activities,

like: you understand.

posher: plus chic, ici plus intello.

How d’y’tell: how can you tell, how do you establish the distinction.

to work sth out: to find an answer

merely: just, simply

to be discerning: avoir du discernement

upset: emotionally disturbed

junk: useless stuff

a clearin’ out: un coup de ménage (gather old things to throw them away to make space)

a bit of slap and tickle: a bit of fun

lads: boys. slang.

Peer Gynt: pronounce Günt, a play by Ibsen (1866). Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) was a famous Norwegian playwright

It’s got me licked: It’s too difficult for me (slang)

to be on about something: to talk about something.

to figure out: to work out sth.

to resolve: Résoudre

Staging: method of presenting a play on stage (mise en scène)

reference book: a book used to look up information

dead narked: really annoyed (slang)

to encapsulate: résumer dans une formule succincte

second-rate: inferior quality

to mark: mettre une note, corriger

accepted authority: quelqu’un qui fait autorité dans un domaine

thick: ici stupid, normalement épais.

briefcase: “attaché-case”

to settledown to: here, to begin to give her full attention to something

round by us: in our neighbourhood

pissed: drunk

keg: a small barrel

keg beer: brown beer (usually bad quality)

disease: illness

wrecked: destroyed

Daily Mirror/the Sun: tabloid papers.

unions: trade unions, syndicats.

papers: newspapers

to break away: changer d’habitude

terms: conditions

hold on: wait for a moment

to intend: avoir l’intention de

to beam: avoir un sourire rayonnant

SCENE 2 The first lesson
Classes start

In this scene, the introduction relates to the previous scene when Rita had not been able to get into Frank’s study…so this time she brought oil ! It’s a subliminal message to Frank about her firm intentions to study…and maybe a hint about his lazy attitude to details.

They discuss the poor quality of Rita’s essay, the meaning of criticism and education in general.

  1. Rita explains why she doesn’t like to sit
  2. They move on talking about the decoration of the room
  3. Then Rita points that Frank hasn’t drunk and wonders whether it’s due to her.
  4. They turn to discussing « proper » students and Rita’s dream of school and being different but not being able to express it (p. 31 around lines 23-30)
  5. Literature doesn’t have to pay attention to the poor
  6. Frank attempts to give a class to Rita (what does criticism mean, what an essay should be about…) but he keeps being interrupted by Rita who wants to know more about his relationship with Julie. He even suggests to take notes.
  7. this passage is full of humor :
    Rita’s way of talking
    Jane Austen/Tracy Austin
    Divorce for the good of literature
  8. the way Frank also flirts with Rita and finally « puts his foot down »…which doesn’t all that much impress Rita.

 To glance at : to take a quick look at

to get round to sth : to do something only after any other matter has been taken care of

sort of : somehow

phoney : not genuine

mess : state of confusion or disorder

to fit : to look right or suitable

to acquire : to gain, to get

patina : green glossy surface formed on copper, patine

to sniff : renifler

lawn : gazon

proper : real

Y’what : colloquial for I beg your pardon

public school : école privée (as opposed to grammar school, école publique)

boarding school : école avec internat

tuck-shop : school shop which sells sweets and cakes

matron : woman housekeeper and nurse in a school

Jones minor : the younger boy called Jones

Jones major : the older boy called Jones, 

t==>These two character types which often appear in children’s stories about life in boarding schools.

Ring bound file : ring-binder

to be off one’s cake : to be mad

Isabel Archer : heroine of Henry James’ novel The portrait of a Lady

to slum it : to behave and live in a way below your social position

dead : very

affected : not natural (affecté)

spike : here, long sharp point

to rip up : déchirer

staffroom : teachers’ room

to stand a chance : to have a chance

whimps : weak characters

mate : friend

to admit : to acknowledge

to be into : être intéressé par qqch

feller : fellow, boyfriend, partner

to go along with sth : to agree with sth, to accept sth

reluctant : unwilling

to own up to confess

lark : here game

to upset s.o. : to trouble, to disturb s.o.

state : condition

Jane Austin : English novelist

Tracy Austin : famous tennis player in the 80s

to chuck : to throw

crap : rubbish

to approach : to handle

to support : to use facts to confirm

F.R. Leavis : Frank Raymond Leavis (1895-1978) influencial critic

louse : useless person

astounded : completely surprised or shocked

he couldn’t care less : he didn’t give a damn

Sympathetic : compatissant

brevity : shortness

to split up : to get divorced

nosey : curieux

to treat s.o. to : to give s.o. sth

to point sth out : to draw the attention

output : result of work

to deal with : to be about sth

for the good of : for the benefit of

a load of good stuff : plein de bonnes choses

puzzled : perplexe

to take the piss : se mettre en rogne

out of print : no longer published

to happen to have : to have by chance

to do oneself in : to commit suicide

to simmer : to cook slowly without boiling (frémir)

if y’were mine : if you were my husband

to stop out : to stay away from home

vote of confidence : expression of support

there’s less to me than meets the eye : opposite of the usual expression (there’s more…) : to have hidden qualities

staggering : astonishing

Miss : way of addressing a lady teacher

sod off : go away

barely : only, just, hardly

schooling : education

to put one’s foot down : to speak and act firmly

to connect : relier, combiner

amp : ampere

plug : prise

To live on your own : vivre seul.


Homework : scenes 3-4 ER +GRAMMAR UNIT 8.1 P. 144

PART  4 (SCENES 3-4)

Scene 3 : “Not all books are literature”

In this scene, Rita seems to have taken more assurance both in her attitude, her discussion regarding what to read and in her own understanding of the role of a student: “Don’t worry, I wont get upset, I’m here to learn…”

She first strongly expresses her feelings about EM Forster (who had already been mentioned several times in the play. You may want to check and make references). Then, when pointed out that referring to a pulp fiction author isn’t appropriate in a literary essay, she explains she can’t really make a difference between all these authors.

Frank however is delighted she has at least referred to Jane Austen, and to learn that she also read Somerset Maugham which gives way to a funny qui pro quo regarding the word Bondage.

She’s about to give up pulp fiction altogether when Frank says it’ won’t be necessary and she again makes a funny comparison “it’s all right to go out an’ have a bit of slap and tickle with the lads as long as you don’t go home an’ tell your mum.”

Scene 4.
Remember to interpret black outs and lights up as another day.

Rita now connects

Rita is again sulking at Forster but Frank first  to talk about the ridiculously short, though accurate line of essay about Peer Gynt. After explaining the reasons for such brevity and although she’s meant to now take the time to develop her essay, Rita goes on developing the fraud in trying to talk about popular culture. She gives a vivid rendition of what lower middle class society was faced with in the 80s and some has still some resonance in today’s Europe: “inevitable vandalism and violence an’ houses burnt out an’ wrecked by the people they were built for” she compares her social background to group of drug addicts who don’t want one of them to break free and her husband Denny is one of them. She’s then given a clue about Forster based on her own way to connect things and suddenly the whole novel makes sense to her. The scene ends with Rita who proudly gave a perfectly logical answer to the essay question about Peer Gynt.


Scene 3

  1. What’s wrong with Forster according to Rita ?
  2. How do you interpret « Y’dirty sod » addressing her tutor ?
  3. What’s wrong with Harold Robbins’ references in Rita’s essay ?
  4. What’s pulp fiction ?
  5. Explain the lines 15 to 18 p. 43

Scene 4

  1. Relate this scene to the end of the movie and justify the assertion that this is an important passage of the play.
  2. Is there a working class culture according to the playwright ? Discuss and justify your answer with passages from the scen
  3. Is Rita intelligent ? Give us some example in the scene.




Wearisome: pénible, pesant

Checkhof: Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860-1904): Russian playwright and short story writer. One of his play is presently on stage in Geneva (Ivanov at St Gervais)

to leave something out: laisser trainer quelque chose

prescription: ordonnance

sod the books: au diable les bouquins

to get on with: to proceed

to fiddle with: to play with something nervously :

to smooth: caresser

selfish: someone concerned only with him/herself

for the time being: pour l’instant

feller: fellow

for the sake of him: because of him, for him exclusively

like: genre

come: came

y’soft get: you stupid

there’s no point (in): there’s no reason to

to have it off with s.o: to have sex with s.o.

I would not put it past you: I would consider you capable of doing such a (bad) thing

to shack up with s.o.: vivre à la colle

to cry over spilt milk: to regret something when it’s too late

emphatically: forcefully

to provide s.o. with to give someone something

to rock the coffin (usually to rock the boat): to stop violently an otherwise smooth journey.

Everton, Liverpool: Liverpool top soccer teams

lousy: terrible

the dole: colloquial term for State subsidies for the unemployed

Stork: brand of Margarine

to give a miss: not to do sth

pots of: lots of

I’ve got to: I must

arrangement: agreement

to display: to reveal

signs: here, evidence

bill: here, the list of actors in a theatre programme

To perch: to sit on the edge

Constantin: a character in The Seagull (La Mouette)

blurb: brief information

ravishing: enchanting

I dunno: I don’t know

ludicrous: ridiculous

to rape: violer

what an awful pity: what a pity: quel dommage

course: of course

The Importance of Bein’ Thingy: she makes fun of Oscar Wilde’s play (1895) The Importance of Being Earnest.

aghast: amazed, terrified

gorra: got to

acknowledgement: confirmation, reconnaître quelque chose

to spoil for s.o.: gâcher le plaisir de quelqu’un en lui racontant la fin par exemple.


ER Scene 5

  1. Situate the scene in the play. What happened before ? Compare the way Rita keeps getting into the study and discuss Frank’s reproaches to her on lines 2 to 7 p. 51.

In the previous scene, Rita had attempted to write an essay about Per Gynt and she finally managed to answer the question Frank had asked her.

She keeps making dramatic, she always storms

in the scene 1, she had difficulties coming into the room, then explores the room.

In the scene 2, she oils the door, Then tells him about « her books »

in scene 3, she storms into the room and explains why she hates Forster.

In scene 4, she declares that she hates Forster

V1 : Frank is right, every time, she invents something else not to get to her desk and asks him personal questions instead of getting to work. I know some students at ECGA who do the exact same thing, it’s a « technique » to waste time.

V2 : It’s Rita’s temper to be exhuberant and to try to discuss everything around her studies, avoiding to do what « proper students do ». She’s a hairdresser and she’s used to chat like that all the time.

V3 : He’s totally unfounded to reproach her with anything. She does her best, fighting not only to acquire her knowledge but against her own social environment (starting with Denny).

  1. What would you add to the introduction to the notes for act 1 scene 5 ?

personal answer.

  1. What do you know about Denny and Julia so far. Read the « What do you think section and answer the two points regarding your sympathy for either of them and the possible similarities between them.

Since the beginning of the play, we can predict the end of their relationships. Denny doesn’t like Rita to take her classes and Julia resents the fact that her partner doesn’t come home straight away. Indeed, both like their spouses. They are both frustrated and extremely patient with their partners. Rita is a new person, but Frank just took advantage of his prestige as a poet and professor with his student. They both know they are at the end of their relationship and they don’t really pay attention to their partners feelings.

  1. Write the 5-6 key phrases in the scene that emphasize the importance of her studies for Rita.


52 : 7-9


These terms are extremely violent and reflect the VITAL importance of studying for Rita.

  1. What does Russel try to point out through his reference to choice p. 53 l. 7 and following.

There are choices which are guided by the consumer society and luring lower classes into believing they have a choice.

  1. Explain what Rita means p. 56 l. 6

personal…but that’s what Rita does in fact.

  1. Can one « spoil » a play by telling the end prior to attending it in a theatre ?


ER scene 6

to spare (the time) : to find some time for…

to have s.o. worried : to make someone worry

to do s.o. in : être totalement captivé (ici), se faire avoir.

« Out, out, brief candle » is a famous quotation from Shakespeare’s Macbeth tragedy (Act 5, scene 5 : «  She should have died hereafter.

There would have been a time for such a word.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

To the last syllable of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing. »

I better get back : I’d better get back, I should get back

s.o. fussy : maniaque, s.o. who pays attention to trivial details.

To come right out : to be a success

guts : literally, the bowels, avoir le cran.

Blood and guts : a violent scene full of blood

to be flawed : to have an imperfection

doom : ruin

pro-ordained : determined in advance

to tread : to walk on

to bring sth on : to cause sth to happen

thread : fil

them /those: refers to students

friggin’ : freaking

golliwog : cf. (poupée de chiffon aux cheveux raides, épais et noirs)

SESSION 8 : Scenes 7 &8 (ACT 1)

To sling : throw carelessly

vino : wine

stage-manager : ironical way to depict his partner. Normalement metteur en scène

to take s.o. on : to accept s.o. as an opponent

to cope : to manage successfully

to be hard on s.o. : to ask too much of s.o.

to turn up : se pointer

that’s up to you : c’est comme tu veux

to thrust : push violently

to jumbel up : to mix up

Shaw : George Bernard Shaw (1895-1950), irish playwright and critic

Shavian : adjectif dérivé de Shaw, désigne ses fans

ages : des siècles

to sip : boire par petite gorgées

off-licence : shop where you can purchase alcohol

sparkling wine : du mousseux

plong : cheap poor quality wine, de la piquette

fancy dress : déguisement

to breeze in : faire entrer un courant d’air frais (métaphore du bonheur et du renouveau

funnies : jokes

court jester : le fou du roi

to be good for a laugh : person or thing whom you can make fun of

to grab : attraper

freak : un monstre

the likes of them : les gens comme eux

half-caste : sang mêlé

juke-box : machine qui jouait des disques dans les années 60

what the frig : what the hell ?

To pack in : to give up

narked : annoyed, angry

to warp : to distort

to betray : trahir

oh sod Macbeth : au diable Macbeth

account : description

unashamedly : sans honte aucune

to indicate : to point out

to suppress : supprimer, réprimer

to abandon : to give up completely

uniqueness : le fait d’être unique

to take in : cromprendre

crap : rubbish

bin : poubelle, corbeille à papiers.

In the scene 7, Frank starts reproaching Rita not to have properly announced nor apologized for not showing up to his Saturday party. He’s partly ironical and makes her understand it was more of a problem for Julia than for himself.

She then explains her many difficulties :

  1. Dennis and her fought over this as he didn’t want to go…so she was ready to go on her own ;
  2. she didn’t know what to wear ;
  3. she took the wrong bus and took for ages to find his address
  4. she realized that she had bought the wrong wine
  5. above all, she realized she was going to be out of place.

Finally, she explains how she thought of abandoning her studies and went to the pub with her family. But her presence made her mother realize that their occupation was silly. That’s why Rita returned to Frank’s study.


This scene has a specific importance. Indeed, it’s a turning point in Rita’s life : she’s left her husband and faced with the fact that she will have to change completely to be successful in her studies, she declares that she absolutely wants to change and starts writing a whole new essay on Macbeth.

February 28TH : ACT 2, SCENE 1

Educating Rita Session 9

Act 2 scene 1

to stub out a cigarette : écraser sa cigarette pour l’éteindre

t o twirl : to turn round and round

shawl : châle

summer school : université d’été

stick together : être ensemble/rester amis

gear : clothes

to lash : to beat, to whip, fouetter

Ferlinghetti : Lawrence Ferlinghetti (born 1919). Un des artistes les plus engagés de la Beat generation.

Honest to God : je te jure

what possessed me : what influenced me

to keep s.o. down : to control someone’s enthusiasm

matter of fact : sans émotion aucune

wisdom : comes from wise, sage

to curse : normalement jurer ou jeter une malédiction, ici punir

Eggs : Benedict : poached eggs on a Mornay sauce, florentine : on spinach…cocotte

Trish : diminutif de Patricia

flatmate : colocataire

classy : stylish

unpretentious : sans prétention

hint : suggestion indirecte, allusion.

to peck : ici faire un bisou rapide, normalement picorer.

Tutorial : cours particulier ou en petit groupe donné par un professeur d’université

bum : le derrière

to struggle : faire un effort violent pour arriver à faire quelque chose

to budge : bouger

to air : brasser de l’air

soil : le sol, la terre

cuttings : bouture (ici)

to have going for oneself : to have many advantages

whirl : tourbillon d’activités

mortuary : morgue, chambre funéraire.

To cheer s.o. up : égayer qqn

William Blake, magnificent English poet and mystic (1757-1827), author of Jerusalem and the sick Rose

freak : ici fanatique, normalement, monstre, personne anormale

to be related : to be in connection with (also belong to the same family, relative)

to masquerade as : to pretend to be

to cover : to study all aspects of, academically

Songs of Innocence and Experience : Songs of innocence explores the immanent presence of divine love. Songs of experience depicts the power of evil.

In this scene, it’s a new Rita who enters Frank’s office. This time, she has no difficulty opening the door, she « bursts » through it. She’s full of enthusiasm about her summer school where she both worked terribly hard (whipping metaphor) and had a lot of social interactions including with her knowledgeable professors. Frank announces his temporary separation with Julia, while Rita tells him she’s got a classy roommate. The scene ends on the terrible disappointment for Frank that Rita has already studied William Blake.


  1. Frank welcomes Rita back and they discuss their respective summers.

  2. She gives him an expensive pen as a present in order to encourage him to keep writing poetry and nothing else with.

  3. There is a little bit of irony but also a formal way to address her in order to acknowledge her change of personality. She’s now a « proper student ».

  4. we could say that it proves that Frank doesn’t appreciate much fresh air, yet it probably gives us the hint that she no longer considers Frank’s study « perfect » anymore. We can also establish a parallel with the previous scene where Rita herself was compared to a « breeze » p. 66.

  5. we say that Rita now is so self-assured that she talks to her tutor as an equal and believes she already « has the knowledge » of Blake’s poetry.

March 7TH : ACT 2, SCENES 2-3

The new Rita speaks now with a proper accent which makes Frank angry. He’s also annoyed by Trish’s influence on Rita. Rita’s confidence is shown by her mixing up with students, especially Tiger. Frank admits that Rita’s work is now comparable to the « proper students ».

In the third scene, there’s a reversed situation as Frank is the one entering the office while Rita is sitting there. He’s totally drunk and accounts for his adventures with his students who reported him. He will be sent on a sabbatical because in the academic world, « you need to bugger the bursar » to get the sack (to be dismissed). Rita is now almost superior when she talks to Frank and displays her new independence towards his knowledge : « y’mean there’s nothing of you in it ». In the meantime, Frank starts using Rita’s turn of phrase and says that Rubyfruit Jungle is excellent, which makes her laugh.



a tutting sound: a noise of disapproval

to scribble: gribouiller une note

not a lot of point: not much value

ugly: horrible, laid

Daleks: Robots in a cult TV science fiction series with metallic voices

to revert to: to return to a former condition

to be wary of: to be cautious of, to be afraid of

to come out with: to say without really thinking about its meaning

they don’t half come out with some rubbish: ils n’y vont pas avec le dos de la cuillère pour dire des idioties

In the first place: d’abord

to put s.o. straight: to explain s.o. why his or her ideas are wrong

to overhear: entendre par hasard quelque chose qui ne nous est pas destiné

to spout: parler pompeusement et en étalant sa science d’un sujet

heated discussion: discussion très vive

to finish off: liquider qq’un

to ask for it: l’avoir bien cherché

crumble: to break into little pieces

to slum it: to live intentionally below one’s standard of living

match-making: jouer les marieurs, marieuses

to burble on: to talk non stop nonsense

to look out of place: to be at the wrong place

muffled: (son) indistinct

oaths: swear words

to tell s.o. where to get off: dire à qqn le fond de sa pensée

rostrum: estrade

to sack s.o.: virer qqn

to involve: here to make necessary

grand scale: here, extremely frequently

to amount to: to mean

slight: léger

misdemeanour: offense, breach of the rules

to bugger: sodomiser

bursar: Trésorier d’une université

off one’s cake: mad

to do for s.o.’s own good: faire qqch pour le bien de qqn

mealy mouthed: hypocrite

to desacrate: profaner

Wordsworth: William Wordsworth, famous romantic poet (1770-1850)

fit: suitable

sober: not drunk

rewarding: gratifiant

to work: here, can be interpreted

to come out : to emerge, appear

concealed: hidden

not much of a : not a very good

to gain: to improve

trendy: fashionable

to value: to have a high opinion of

to come up with: atteindre, trouver

to be hung up on: avoir un complexe à propos

March 21st : ACT 2, SCENES 4, 5 and 6