In ‘Educating Rita’ Willy Russell writes about a working class woman who wants to change and become educated, as she believes that by becoming educated it will let her forget and move away from her life at the moment.
The only setting in Educating Rita is in Frank’s office. Frank is a middle class gentleman, who lectures in English, at a university, and he is an alcoholic. He is about to start teaching Rita at an Open University. Rita is going to be studying English.
Willy Russell gives Rita, a working class woman, colloquial speech, and wants to learn, whilst he gives Frank, a middle class gentleman, standard English, who is conventionally educated. This tells us, even before we have started reading the play, that there is a difference between the two characters.
The first scene, Act One Scene One, begins with Frank looking behind some books, searching for some alcohol, that he had hidden earlier. The telephone rings and Frank answers it. Frank’s girlfriend calls him to ask why he hasn’t come home yet, and telling him that he is late for dinner. Rita interrupts the call by entering the room, and immediately starting a conversation about the defective door handle. By Willy Russell, making Rita immediately start a conversation suggests to us that Rita is confidant.
It’s that stupid bleedin’ handle on the door
Her use of words tell us that she isn’t well educated and uses lots of her local dialect. The way Willy Russell makes her speak implies that Rita is ‘in your face’ and loud.
Rita remarks about a picture on the wall that she insists is ‘erotic’. As Frank and Rita begin to talk about the painting, Willy Russell evokes Rita through her language. Rita is given straightforward language, and says what she thinks, or the first thing that comes into her head. Willy Russell also makes Rita use sexual innuendo in her language.
Frank: Howards End?
Rita: Yeh. Sounds filthy, doesn’t it?
As Willy Russell has make Rita, a girl who wants to sound confidant and to help this seem more realistic Willy Russell gets Rita to mock and change the meaning of things when she doesn’t understand/know what they are.
Act One Scene One is all about Rita and Frank getting to know each other. They talk about ‘anything of everything’, and they don’t just get along as teacher and pupil, they get along as friends, and Rita tells Frank everything and wants to know his opinion. This is significant, because this shows that Willy Russell implies that Rita looks up to Frank and that Rita thinks that Frank’s opinion is important. Rita tells Frank about everything she is doing and wants to do. Rita is at the beginning of her journey to becoming educated.
Rita wants to learn everything, to help higher herself in the social class scale.
God, what’s it like to be free
Rita said this as she was looking, out of the window, down at the students on the grass who are at university. This tells us that Rita wants to change and is frustrated by her life and class, and wants to leave it all behind and start again. She is trying to change by getting an education, and becoming clever.
In Act Two Scene One, we learn that Rita has been to summer school. Between act one scene on and act two scene one we can see significant changes have taken place in Rita, and she is now more educated and near the end of her journey.
Through-out Act Two Scene One Frank is picking up on things that Rita has done, with-out telling him. Frank doesn’t like Rita not telling him what she is up to, as to him this seems as she is moving away from him, and will soon leave. Frank’s feelings about Rita have increased from just being friends, and know Frank is being to love Rita. Unfortunately for Frank, Rita doesn’t have the same feelings and Rita sees there relationships and just friends.
At summer school Rita hasn’t been depending on Frank and has been learning independently. Rita has learnt lots at the summer school and has met many fascinating people. Frank is beginning to hold Rita back and starting to patronise Rita. Frank is afraid of Rita leaving him as he thinks that he wont be able to cope with-out her.
Now after summer school Rita is now dressing like the other students, and hangs and socialises with them on the grass outside, instead of longing to be like them as she was in act one scene one. This tells use that she has changed, and become what she has wanted to be.
God, is it that long since I’ve seen you
This implies that Rita has taken many steps forward in her journey. She has learnt about famous writers and poets, and know has the confidence not to take the ‘mick’, and to ask if she doesn’t understand something.
Rita used to make fun of Franks educated speech, but instead now Rita is using educated language, and Frank is taking the mick out Rita. This tells us that that they have swapped characters, while Rita is emancipating, Frank is now beginning to regress.
Rita used to go to Frank every week, and Willy Russell suggests that Frank’s office is a place where Rita feels that she can become free in, and that Frank is helping her become educated and moving her up in social classes. Now that has all changed and now Rita only goes to Frank’s office when she remembers or has got time. Frank and his office are now holding Rita back, and almost suffocating her.
Let’s open a window
This is symbolic because it is representing that she wants to open up new horizons, and expand from just being in Frank’s office. She wants to let fresh air in the room, which tells us that she almost out growing Frank, and that she needs something to let her knowledge expand even more.
Rita is now able to used mature language naturally. She has developed her education, and has made new friends who are higher up in society. In meeting new people Rita has become more confident, and she now feels young and free.
By reading this play, I have learnt that, if you want to do something very much, you can do it. Even though Frank’s middle class life seems idiom and well from the outside, Rita actually had a happier life, as a lower class citizen. Even though Rita though at first that Frank had a better life. This passes over a message that people who are higher up, and seem to have more of a relaxing and easy life, aren’t always as happy as people think. It can be better if you take something smaller but happier, than if u take something large, that can seem better, but isn’t always.