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Explain how Rita's background and environment were a poor song and show how this reflects Russell's own experiences.

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"Found a better song to sing have you? No you've found a different song that's all and on your lips it's shrill hollow and tuneless." In the light of this quotation from 'Educating Rita' explain how Rita's background and environment were a poor song and show how this reflects Russell's own experiences. Why does Frank accuse her of singing a 'shrill, hollow and tuneless' song How far would you agree with his assessment of her and how do the main characters resolve their differences at the end of the play? The character of Rita is based on Willy Russell himself; both of their backgrounds are 'Poor songs'. They come from the same kind of poor, deprived, working class, Liverpool family, in situations were education is considered a low priority, a culture where family-raising and work are the cornerstones of life and the roles of the man as breadwinner, leader, head of the family and the woman as loving wife, home-maker and child-bearer are set in stone. Both Rita and Russell went to tough schools were people were bullied and ruled by fear, where those who wanted to learn were stopped by intimidation and those who were different were singled out, picked on, isolated. As a result neither of them received an adequate education. However they did, of course, have to go out and work so they were forced, by pressures from their families, to find a job and earn. No matter that it was something they didn't enjoy, or even understand, they had to go out to work, earn, get married and start a family. ...read more.


Rita eventually breaks up with Denny. As the course progresses and Rita gains in education she grows more distant from her husband. He doesn't understand her and she cannot abide his attitude to her studying. 'He thinks we've got choice because we can go into a pub that sells eight different kinds of lager. He thinks we've got choice already: choice between Everton an' Liverpool, choosin' which washing powder, choosin' between one lousy school an' the next, between lousy jobs or the dole, choosin' between Stork an' butter.' Rita knows that this is not real choice, Denny cannot see this. 'I think he's thick. No, he's not thick, he's blind'. One night she comes home and he has packed her bags, he says to her that she can stop studying and have a baby or leave 'it was an ultimatum'. But she was prepared to sacrifice her marriage for her education. She chose. 'He said I'd betrayed him. I suppose I have...But I couldn't betray meself.' When Rita first came to Frank she knew that she was starting from scratch. She had never really worked at school and she had never written an essay before, all she had was enthusiasm and a hunger for knowledge and Frank knows that 'possessing a hungry mind is not, in itself, a guarantee of success'. However she had something which he greatly admired: 'I think you're marvellous...you're the first breath of air that's been in this room for years.' She has freshness and a 'uniqueness' about her which Frank is reluctant to tamper with. ...read more.


He feels he has created a monster; 'I shall insist upon being known as Mary, Mary Shelley.' Not only her voice does Rita change but her name. Rita repents of her name and reverts back to Susan. She changed her name to Rita after Rita Mae Brown who wrote 'Rubyfruit Jungle'. She did not know at the time that Rita Mae Brown was not a famous writer and so when she realizes she changes back to Susan: 'Nobody calls me Rita...I dropped that pretentious crap as soon as I saw it for what it was.' The point of Frank and Rita's reconciliation is when Rita realizes what has happened to her. She sees that having an education is about being your own person, a master of your own destiny. She sees what the other students are really like, she says about Tiger: 'He's a bit of a wanker really.' She explains to Frank that it wasn't his fault that she became like that. 'You think you gave me nothing...you think I just ended up with a load of quotes an' empty phrases; an' I did but that wasn't your doin'. I was so hungry. I just wanted it all so much that I didn't want it to be questioned.' She was so desperate for a culture, for something better than what she had before that she forgot to slow down and think about what she was doing. But in the end she got what she was really searching for: choice. 'it might all be worthless in the end...But because of what you'd given me I had a choice.' ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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