Educating Rita - Discuss the changes in Rita throughout this text, are these changes good or bad and how do they effect her relationship with Frank?
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Discuss the changes in Rita throughout this text, are these changes good or bad and how do they effect her relationship with Frank? "Educating Rita" displays the major changes that occur in the main character, an initially narrow minded, outspoken and socially naïve Liverpudlian trapped by her working class life. Rita thinks an increase in intelligence and worldly knowledge will change this, and set her "free". She strives to change classes, and although is different from her working class peers, she still isn't ready to be accepted as middle class. She aims to reach her goal through an Open University course, yet naively thinks knowing what books to read and clothes to wear will allow her to immediately become accepted as part of her chosen social class. Change is a major part of the play, affecting Rita in both positive and negative ways. It shows how the influence of education helps to bring about these changes, and how eventually Rita is able to overcome and negative problems and settle on a happy balance. Rita is also molded by her tutor, Frank, and learns a great deal from him, whilst also teaching him in many ways. Rita's bright, bold, bubbly character is revealed in the very first scene, as the two characters are introduced. She makes a very dramatic entrance, bursting through the door, swearing, and immediately drawing all attention to her. She isn't really sure how to act, and her insecurity and nerves make her appear in such a loud manner. This shows how little she understands of formal interview situations- one would expect her to appear fairly meekly, maybe shy, and also very formally, yet she acts cheekily and informally. For example, not only does she ask Frank if she can smoke, but she also gets out her cigarettes before he has had a chance to answer. She even offers him one, trying to ease the tension between herself and Frank, and he returns the warm gesture with the offer of a drink.
However, in Rita's case, she doesn't want to live in a run down tiny house, with a low paid job and a family, she wants to make the most of herself, achieve something, and be happy. Others of the working class who felt it was her place to be at home cooking and cleaning, and no right to try and become better than them wouldn't have looked very highly upon the protagonist. Rita had ambition to do well, and could see that many people accepted their lives as they were not bothering to try and change them, yet she wanted a chance of freedom and choice. Women at the time were discriminated against in society, they were given poorly paid jobs and their status was low. Despite being brought up like this, Rita was different even at school. She talks about how she would have been classified as a "wimp" if she had admitted that she wanted to study and learn here, and so the fear and pressure from her friends made her join in with the others around her. She didn't want to become different from her family and friends, nor those around her, and so blocked the thought that she wanted more from her life: "I'd just play another record or buy another dress an' stop worryin" She put this off because of the peer pressure from the other working class people, she didn't want to be different and upset them so went along with their assumptions of women as low, and this put her off for a while. Rite sees the middle class as totally different from herself, and although doesn't want to be working class, doesn't feel she will be accepted as middle class either. She has the idea that all middle class individuals are free, and stereotypes them, making sweeping generalisations. She assumes they all eat wholemeal bread, flora, and watch the BBC, as this is seen as more intellectually stimulating than ITV, the channel that many of the working class watch.
The actress playing Rita should not express her feelings and emotions on her face or in her actions, but stick to words, and use varied vocabulary. She should hardly move around, instead happily sit at the desk, ready to work, and should talk as if she really does understand what she has learnt. This shows she has achieved the choice and freedom and also gained in intelligence she wanted. The lighting should no longer be bright as it focused on the protagonist, but muted, and cheerful so the characters can easily be seen yet not too glaring. The music could be classical, classy music, played quietly. This all reflects the change in her more sophisticated and mature character showing she has developed mentally and emotionally enough to become accepted as a member of the middle class. She doesn't judge people as before, but sees them for who they really are, including Frank. She knows he is not the confident secure man he appeared, but weak, insecure and lonely. This shows her increased maturity. More themes are introduced, including maturity. In the middle of the play, she thinks Frank is a bad teacher, but by the end, she realises that he made all this possible for her, and her maturity means she isn't too stubborn to thank Frank and truly appreciate what he has done for her. Although she changed in negative ways, she learnt from these. She realises that she doesn't want to risk becoming trapped again, like with Denny, but wants to dictate her own destiny with the choices she makes. The ending is left very open, not telling the theatre viewers what happens to either Rita or Frank, but lets you imagine for yourself what paths they take and where and how they live their lives. This reflects the theme of choice, by letting viewers decide what happens, but also for the characters to decide and change which way they will go and what choices they will make.
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