Russell wrote this play in the mid 80’s; therefore the typical conventions can confuse the reader, as they do not appeal to modern audience. There are two main characters in the whole play. Frank her tutor, and Rita the student. This play is about Rita, a married woman, trying to achieve a better life for her. Going to an Open University has turned her life around. She is willing to lose everything for an enhanced standard of living. Russell uses the characters speech to create a change in Rita’s character.
He is the play writer so therefore there must be a reason for why he did this; maybe to show how important education is for people of this day, and it is not just the men that have to work and get the degrees, women should also have this right because they are capable of doing so. As Rita’s character becomes more educated, her dialect changes because she feels that she wants to fit in with all the other educated students. In Act 1 Scene 2 her dialect is very strong Liverpoolian, her tone is very rude, and it shows that she does not know how to behave with educated people.
An example of Rita’s rudeness is “What am I? What? ” As this was the first question Frank asked Rita I assumed she would have been more polite to make a good first day impression; but we learn further on in the play that because Rita was herself, the bubbly loud personality, Frank was motivated to teach her and he wanted her to do well. Also a second point about Rita’s speech is that on the first day of her tutorial, she swears! Using words like “tits”, “fuckin”, and “fucked”, as a reader I would have expected Frank to say no for tutoring her.
In my opinion using swear words on a first day at university are wrong and it shows that your parents have not taught you many manners on how to speak in public. Russell makes his character do this to create a certain effect on his reader. It may however change the audience’s opinions of the character but Russell does this because later on in the play she changes and becomes a new woman. However, in Act 2 Scene 1, Rita is a whole new person. After coming back from summer school she is extremely pleased to see Frank. We notice a big change in Rita’s character, new clothes, new accent, and new thoughts about literature.
Maybe Russell created Rita’s character to be very rude and abrupt in the A1S1 so that this change would seem to be very dramatic. Rita seems to be more confident within her and happier that she understands literature better and getting everything right. “… cos you know I’m dead familiar with Chekhov now. ” Rita’s character describes summer school, as it was the best thing that had ever happened to her. Rita is talking the language of literature and getting all her essay’s right. On the other hand, Frank does not seem too happy with Rita’s change and feels he has created a monster.
Speech plays a big role to the change in Rita but so does behaviour. In A2S1Rita’s character has become very educated which means she knows how to behave with other educated people. She now understands that to have manners is very important. In this scene her character does not use a single swear word which also shows a big change in behaviour. She has matured and become a woman. In A1S5 her husband, Denny, found she was on the pill she got thrown out of the house, she then found a place of her own, with her flatmate Trish. This is an example of being very mature, otherwise she would still be living with her mum.
An example of Rita’s maturity and good behaviour is when she is “(reciting from memory)” Blake’s poem. “O Rose, thou art sick … Does thy life destroy. ” This shows hat Rita has changed for good, because she wants this so badly. She is determined to do well, so she listens and takes in what tutors have to say. Alternatively, in A1S1 Rita’s character’s behaviour is atrocious for her first day at Open University. She is pushing the limits sometimes on how she behaves. She is very different; maybe that is why Frank said yes to tutor her.
As a reader she comes across very rude, she does not behave, as a typical women should on a first day at university. Normally students like to impress their tutors with their best qualities’ about themselves. You do not want to give your tutor the impression that “I have no manners” or “I don’t know why I am taking this course”. On your first day of university you should be confident and this is what Rita was lacking. Even though it may come across that she is very confident using swears words and saying how she feels, this is called bravery.
If she would have been more confident within herself she would not have to turn to bravery and pretend to be someone she is not. An example of no self confidence is “If I pack the course in I’ll post it to y'”. Russell makes Rita’s character have no self confidence in A1S1 so that after summer school the change would seem to be more effective and have an impact on the audiences thoughts and feelings about the situation. The way Russell develops situations also has an effect on how Rita’s character speaks and behaves. Maybe if Russell planned some major situation in a different way, Rita might not come across rude and arrogant in A1S1.
As Rita enters Franks door is rather stiff. Maybe if Russell did not make the door stiff Rita would not have the opportunity to say anything that may sound rude. Rita’s entrance shows a lot about her character. “I’m comin’ in, aren’t I? It’s that stupid bleedin’ handle on the door. You wanna get it fixed! (She comes into the room). This opening sentence gives the reader an idea of what Rita’s character is going to be like. It all depends on the way Russell develops situations that gives Rita or Frank an opportunity to show what there character is really like.
Classic misunderstandings are shown in the first scene where the two characters are very different. This is a classic misunderstanding, and it shows what the two characters are all in relation to. Also as a reader the feature I found very extraordinary is the two characters were both talking in depth about their personal lives and it was only the 2nd tutorial. Russell may have done this to show that any type of people can be friends. Also to emphasize the change in their friendship after the change in Rita’s character takes place. On the other hand Russell develops situations similarly in A2S1.
I would have expected to see a change in the development of situations; just because the two characters have changed maybe the style of how the situations were portrayed should have changed. Russell may have done the right thing in not changing how the situations were developed, because now we can see the change in more depth. As a reader I can see that Rita has changed for the better and she is happy with her changes, whereas Frank is rather jealous of the other people that have entered Rita’s life such as Trish her flatmate and Tiger her friend.
One part of the scene is where Rita recites the poem of by heart. Frank is very shocked, that she actually knows this poem but she does not seem to acknowledge Franks reaction and she turns a blind eye to it. This shows that she has stopped taking much interest in Frank because now she has a life of her own. Franks reaction: “(staring, slightly confused) You know it! ” Rita’s response showed no affection or understanding of Franks reaction as she said, “We did him at summer school. ” It is as if she was not bothered, he was shocked.
Also in this scene I can see some love from the two characters. As the university is coming to an end, the two characters talk about it as a “tragedy” referring to Macbeth. This conversation between the two characters show that Rita will miss Frank and she is owning up to it, but Frank is not confident within him to say I will miss you Rita, maybe because he has been put off by the fact that Rita may have found someone else, Tiger. Willy Russell has thought this play through, and what will happen if he does something differently.
In my opinion I feel that he has had success with writing this play and it all links in exceptionally well. It has a very good storyline that many people of there mid 40’s can relate too. Russell succeeds in creating a changed in Rita’s character through speech, behaviour and the way situations are developed. As a reader I feel that the person who Rita was closest to was not too impressed by her change. However, Rita was enthusiastic and very eager to learn and it shows that she is willing to lose everything to earn a more stabilised life for herself.
Also this is reinforcing the point that education can make people happier as it is leading you into a successful future. As a reader I get the impression that Frank is not to pleased with Rita’s change as further on in the play he says “… from now on I shall insist upon being called Mary, Mary Shelley – do you understand that allusion, Rita? ” From this quotation I understand that because Rita’s character has changed so much, Frank blames himself that giving her an education and recommending on going to summer school he has created a monster.
Rita still has the same personality but she is now speaking and acting like an educated woman. I feel that the change was important to take place so that for readers to understand both sides of emotions and feelings for education and love. Referring to, Act 1 scene 2 and Act 2 scene 1 in Educating Rita, Willy Russell creates a change in Rita’s character by changing the characters speech, the way the characters behaviour, and the development of situations between the two characters.