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Throughout “Educating Rita” Willy Russell talks about change. What changes are there in Rita by the end of the play and are they for the good or the bad?
In “Educating Rita”, Rita is a working class person. She is trapped in her life and wants choice, she has little education and a poor job as a hairdresser and during the play she tries to break free from her social class. Rita wants to be more like Frank, educated and middle class. At the beginning Rita doubts herself and is absolutely not satisfied with her life, till she meets Frank. She becomes more and more independent and self-confident. Rita is looking at things for the first time - she sees differently because she wants to learn about everything. Rita knows more about real life than Frank does.
As Rita is changing she rows with Denny and breaks up with him, Willy Russell does this to show that Rita is changing. In the play Denny burns Rita's books, he does this because he wants to control her, he wants to get Rita back because he feels she is slipping away and he wants her back, in a way he is jealous that’s why he burns her books, “I see him looking at me sometimes and I know what he's thinking, he's wondering where the girl he married has gone to.” At this point Rita considers herself to be a half cast because she is the only one who wants an education and the only one who wants to be able to have choice in her life. When she doesn't turn up for the party at Franks we can see how she is beginning to reject her former self. She doesn't want to be a ‘court jester’, or ‘good for a laugh.’ She thinks she is a ‘freak’ because she isn't one of ‘them’. She thinks about her mother crying in the pub because ‘we could sing better songs than these.’ Rita likens her education as gaining “a better song to sing.” Later in the play, frank tells her that she didn’t learn a “better song,” but rather, “a different song.”
Rita is bound by a lot of expectations to live up to; she has her safe old community and life to lose, which is a lot to her. But what Rita doesn't have to lose, is hers to gain. Rita has the opportunity to exchange her life for something completely different.
Rita swears a lot when she speaks and she also has a very strong accent, which means she quite often only uses parts of words, “…D’ y’ wanna lend it?” In this quote and in a lot of others, she also uses the wrong words e.g. lend instead of borrow. Rita’s initial thoughts about herself are that she is stupid,” I’ll probably have a job findin’ my brain.” She also doesn’t think she is a proper student and says Open University courses are ‘degrees for dishwashers’. Rita’s character is very complex you can tell this by the fact that on the outside she appears strong and determined but on the inside she is quiet. By the end of the scene she is a lot more confident than at the beginning. You can tell this by the fact that at the beginning she talks a lot because she is nervous and at the end of the scene she actually says that she wants Frank to be her tutor.
Once during the play, Rita’s name changes. At the beginning, her name was based on the author of the novel Rubyfruit Jungle, and then later on in the play she changes her name back to her original name. The reason she did this is because she was “in awe” of the book Rubyfruit Jungle and she shows this through changing her name to that of the author’s. “That’s ‘S’ for Susan. It’s just me real name. I’ve changed it to Rita, though. I’m not Susan anymore.”
Rita keeps her old manners of talking like an uneducated woman. When Frank, at the end of the story asks her if she will follow a friend to France, she answers: "I dunno. He’s a bit of a wanker really. But I’ve never been abroad. An’ me mother’s invited me to her’s
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Open University, Drama, English-language films, Fiction, Theatre, Educating Rita, Films, Rita Sullivan, Rita Bennett
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