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Educating Rita is the tale of one working class women’s struggle to find an escape to a boring, repetitive life and to find new things to conquer. To acheive this she begins university on a literature course despite the discouragement from family and baby-obsessed husband Denny. The play features only two characters, Rita and Frank.
Frank- a middle class, well-educated, eloquent professor and Rita, an abrupt, crude excuse for a lady with no regard for or more precise, no knowing of social nouce.
Throughout the play Rita’s character must reach two social extremities before she can learn to be true to herself. Arriving in Frank’s office loud and sarcastic dragging all attention to her so we fail to immediatly see her obvious insecurities. During the play Rita feels the best way of life, is the educated one; moreover, Frank protests against the change to a blind Rita who has gained in confidence but lost her true values and personality which is where Frank she’s beauty is his working class Rita.
Near to the end of the play Rita, now known by her true title Susan, makes a revelation when her roommate attempts suicide. Rita’s new educated view is shattered when her apparantly stable, interesting, eccentric roommate feels her life isn’t worth living. In addition Rita discovers Frank to be correct and that she isn’t ‘singing a better song, just a different one’.
Rita gains a peaceful balance between her two lifestyles and finds that even though education may cause our personalities to bloom, it should not alter the magnificence of what we truly are.
When we first meet Rita she is your average working class hairdresser from Liverpool. At the being of the play she refers to herself as Rita ‘y’know, after Rita Mae Brown’ even though her real name is Susan. By hiding behind a different name we know Rita feels inadequate with herself and to be respected she must not be herself so she hides behind the mask of a different name, the name of an author who wrote an outrageous book but was still intelligent enough to write a book itself, a balance Rita craves to find subconciously.
On Rita’s arrival her speech has negative themes highlighting her insecurities with the repetition of the word ‘don’t’ throughout. This shows how she has come to find irritance in the ignorance of her working class equals. Thus, she must lash out and learn a different perspective before she falls into a pit where she cannot help but despise the working classes including her family and herself. Rita uses vulgar phrases to appear dominant in the office to hide her vulnerability.
Such as ‘I’m as fucked as a fanny on a friday night’ Rita quotes herself which tells us that not only is she bold and uncaring of her words to Frank but also to everyone around her. In the first meeting we understand Rita feels inferior to a well-spoken Frank and the use of sexual reference causes her to look fearless to Frank, which both shocks and frightens Frank to the point he is unable to think what to say around such a unique, ”strong” woman. Sexual reference and swearing can both be associated with the working classes when used in informal conversation.
Here is the starting point of Rita, who knows and admits of her dillemma to Frank but is still afraid of letting go of her common social stature in the fear of failing the her journey to become educated. Throughout Educating Rita, we see the gradual changes of Rita except the change in her language sudden, drastic too and it quickly dropped due to Frank’s amusement in herstep of self improvement. As an audience we know she is forcing a change onto herself, without realising the changes happening naturally because of Frank’s nurturing.
Rita is determined and eager to find a place of mental peace and so is rushing what should be gradual changes. ‘Trish says no matter how difficult i may find it i must persevere’ There is an obvious change is language most strikingly, the abolishment of slang. Key parts of the quote are ‘Trish says’ ‘difficult’ ‘must persevere’ shows she mirroring other ‘posh’ people instead of coming into her own. We know Rita finds change difficult but due to her stubborn working class roots she is reluctant to question others assuming everything is right, which is the cause of her first change.
Due to the difficulty she finds merely speaking properly we foresee that Rita eventually find that no one is chained to a class. Alternatively, at the beginning Rita is much more casual with her words. We get the impression that on some level she is proud of who she is as a child of the working class and only seeks a more open minded view of everything not a change to her personality despite the fact that this is what will inevitably happen beforeshe ‘learns everything,’. ‘This is the sort of thing they would of perved over in them days, isn’t it? Rita feels free to say what she wants but not in a closedof manner, by ending the quote by asking for an opinion Rita is open and sociable, also in addition Rita says inappropiate things such as ‘perved over’ she is yet again making a sexual reference which later on she wouldn’t dream of saying something so common to an educator. We see both in the beginning and the end of Educating Rita Rita speaking for herself and not through others. As Rita changes during the play above all the level of interaction with the people at the university alters dramatically.
In the beginning despite Rita’s liking forFrank, she is still very shy about the fact he is in some sense better than her. I’ve commented on her loud entrance earlier but soonafter she manages to become partially open in long dialogues explaining the ignorant bliss and misunderstanding of those who surround her. By a mixture of complex and simple sentences, the textseems to speed up at a ‘rambling’ pace so to seem these things don’t bother her when actually she is at a point where she must grow mentally or risk insanity.