Educating Rita

  • Category: English
  • Words: 1948
  • Grade: 78
Educating Rita                                                                

"Educating Rita" by the playwright Willy Russell is a thought provoking play about the plight of a woman who does not want to face the drudgery of working class living anymore. The play tells of her struggle to become academically educated and her battle to become part of the middle classes. The playwright uses this play to tell of the working classes' attitude towards education and how a opportunity and a bit of determination by them can result in them being better off. The techniques and how the playwright uses them to develop the two characters in "Educating Rita" are very interesting and varied. At the start of the play Frank is on phone and he gives us the impression that he could do without the "˜silly' open university woman's tutorial because it is just a waste of time. We would maybe expect him to be in control and tell Rita what to do but right away she is bossing him about, complaining the door handle and admiring the slightly rude picture. This "˜role reversal' is a clever tool the writer uses to get our attention right from the start. The dialogue between the two characters is stimulating and unexpected. Rita is so cheeky and not at all intimidated by her tutor but her outward manner probably disguises the nervousness she feels inside. Frank does not know what's hit him and towards the end of scene 1 he is telling Rita not to come back but she is not going to give in that easily.

The play continues with Frank and Rita the two main characters having an on/off relationship. Rita was not very committed to getting down to serious work to begin with but eventually does reluctantly. Frank is more interested in going to the pub that teaching Rita. As the play develops both characters changed and discovered things about one another other they did or didn't like. This progresses through to the end with Rita gradually being educated.

When Rita decides to take the path of education she also has the choice of settling down and having a baby. The writer uses irony here as this is the opposite of what is expected from her working class background at the time when the play is set.

"I'm twenty-six should have had a baby by now, every one expects it. I'm sure me husband thinks I'm sterile"

"See I don't wanna baby yet. See , I wanna discover me self first."

The writer conveys to us how Rita has no choice at the start of the play, and how she is expected to carry out certain things like being a good wife and mother. She knows that she wants to change and to change to a better educated person. When Rita has passed the exam she returns to Frank to thank him, while she is speaking she brings up what she is going to do next. During this she suggests that she might even go and have a baby. This is the very thing that she did not want to do before she had become educated . This irony of Rita turning round and criticising things that she once did comes up at many points in the play. Before Rita was educated she followed a pattern of living automatically. Now she questions things. She realises that she has a choice and doesn't have to do things just because people expect her to.

As we go through the play Rita has a problem with getting on with work and the writer uses humour to help the reader understand how Rita attacks her work and how the lack of humour indicates how she is in charge.

        RITA "“ (noticing the picture) "That's a nice picture, isn't is?" (she goes up to it)        

"She sits in the chair and unpacks a note pad and pencil case from her bag. She opens the pad and takes out pencil sharpener "¦.."

Rita often is not shy to say what she thinks and this is usually accompanied by humour. The humour helps convey her character and helps us notice when Rita changes from a working class to a middle class woman. When this happens she begins to see her previous live as trash. This also helps us fully realise the extent of the changes she is putting herself through. The audience would not grasp this if the humour had been lacking at the start. Early on in the play Rita uses humour to take the attention away from her lack of academic knowledge. As she becomes more competent with her studies she no longer needs to side track with humour.

As Rita starts this class she still shows signs of her previous school days when she could not sit down and concentrate.

"FRANK :- It's the sort of poetry you can't understand-unless you happen to have detailed knowledge of the literary references.
RITA :- Oh (After a pause) Do you live on y' own then?"

Rita's mind is wandering and her comment has no connection with what Frank is talking about. When she was at school she believed that it was un-cool to study, a typical thought from the working class . Though she wanted to become educated she still believed that her image and what others expected from her were more important than the education. She still has this when she starts the course though with a little help Frank manages to get her to conquer this. We see that Rita changes into a very hard worker until the end of act 1 . As act 2 starts she becomes more of a typical student (missing lectures etc.) and begins to lose her great demand for learning. At this part we see that she has evently become academically educated.

As Rita improves the writer successfully helps convey this to us by using flash back to recall how she has improved over the summer break.

"A crowd of us stuck together all week. We had a great time , dead late every night we stayed up talking; we went round London, got drunk, went to the theatres, brought all sorts of second-hand gear in the markets "¦Ogh it was"¦"

Before the summer break we leave with Rita more demanding than ever to become educated and she is begins to get the hang of it. As she gets to the summer school she learns to discuss different kinds of literature. This is what I believe is the main change in her academic life. Her mind has also been opened up and she is willing to try new things like going to the theatre and buying second hand clothes. This flash back helps us to keep the play within the "two hander". The playwright does not continue the play on to the summer school theme as this would have meant that different characters would have had to have been introduced disturbing the "two hander" effect. The use of flash back helps to keep this as the destruction of the "two hander" would have ultimately made the play more complex and would have taken the focus away from Rita.

As Rita becomes more middle class she changes her North English dialect to a more complex, educated one.

"Well don't go tellin me what happens will y? , Don't go spoiling it for me"        

"I know Frank, I'm terribly sorry , It was unavoidable."

We see in both of these examples there is the one big difference, The presence of the north English dialect. When we see Rita changing we also notice the change in her academic work and her change from the working class to the middle class . As Rita changes her work to a more suitable academic sense she also believes that her accent must change to suit the middle class. Nowadays regional dialects for TV newsreaders are quite accectable but when this play was set there was more emphasis on RP so Rita would have been self-concious about her speech . Along with her accent changing she changes her image with a new job and a whole new wardrobe. With the result that she loses he individuality and becomes more and more what Frank would not like her to turn into.

The changes of the relationship vary thoughout the play which is greatly helped by the fact that the play is a "two hander" which helps us focus on the main characters.

        "RITA :- who cares if I've left hairdressing to work in a bistro
        "FRANK :- I care"

Often in the play a fight will break out between Frank and Rita. This fight often happens after they get on really well or just before they do. Frank likes the cheeky, funny Rita. As she changes to her "ideal" woman she begins to lose or she disbands her working class character which Frank loved so much. This use of the "two hander" helps amplify the main points of the characters and it also helps the reader stay focused on the main story and the development of the characters.

As the play reaches the end the protagonists changed their ideas and behaviour yet again. There is no real ending to the play. This is interesting way to resolve the end of the play which is a technique within its own right.

"I dunno , I might go to France , I might go to me mother's , I might even have a baby , I dunno , I'll make a decision , I'll choose , I dunno."

As with everything there is always an ending but the ending in this play is something special. As the play ends Rita is faced with a choice. She cannot make a decision but leaves us on ice wondering what she will do. The technique the writer uses by not giving the play a definite end leaves the reader to examine all possibilities. This technique also allows the playwright or another writer to come along and continue the story as "Educating Rita 2". Another strange thing happens towards the end of the play when Rita releases her working class background and speaks in a mixture of her old dialect and "proper" English. We now of course see that she has become the educated person that she wanted to be. When she looks at her choices she brings back the option of having a baby. This is a sign that she is now ready to settle down instead of taking her education further.

The many techniques which the writer uses to convey the points of Rita's change have been used to their maximum. The techniques help the reader fully understand how Rita goes through her changes and how this mentally affects her. The writer uses these techniques and the story line to successfully bring across to the reader how Rita's attitude towards work improves to the point that she becomes obsessed with it. She now has more choices in her live. All of these contribute to the great character of Rita in the play and would be hard to be out done. The use of these techniques help the character and personality of Rita be more recognisable by us and help us relate to her story. The humour makes the play more enjoyable. If Rita's character had been more serious the play might have been boring and Rita would have not been so likeable. As you read the play you want her to succeed. The audience is on Rita's side. I believe this play is real as it accurately tells the tale of an average working class woman who wants to be better.
ad 4
Copyright 2011 EssayTrader.net All Rights Reserved