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Explore how the characters of Frank and Rita change throughout the play

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Introduction

Educating Rita Explore how the characters of Frank and Rita change throughout the play Willy Russell wrote educating Rita, and whilst it is not autobiographical, it is based on his own life and experiences. After a miserable time at school Willy Russell tried a variety of jobs, but eventually settled for being a ladies' hairdresser. Like Rita, he was determined to become educated and so he studied for a degree with the Open University and became an educated writer. In the first scene the audience is introduced to Frank who is seemingly searching for a misplaced novel (typical of all teachers you might say!). However, it doesn't take long for that illusion to disappear as we find that he is only trying to remember which book he had hidden his whiskey behind! This straight away gives us a sense of how dependant he is on alcohol. Russell gives us an insight into Frank's private life very early on when in the first scene the phone rings and he is speaking to his partner Julia. It is clear from the conversation that they are not in a healthy relationship as he is very rude to her and chooses a trip to the pub over her company at dinner. He uses phrases like "I don't need determination to get me to the pub". This quote suggests that he is not ashamed of his drink problem as he makes a joke out of Julia's comments. ...read more.

Middle

Frank fascinates Rita. She admires him and his class. A prime example of this is when Rita compliments Frank's style in decorating the room when really he put no effort in at all. Rita shows concern for Frank by asking if he has been drinking and then is hopeful that it was because of what she said to him. Frank quickly rubbishes this theory and maintains control, while Rita quickly back-pedals and insists that she doesn't want to reform him. "You can do what you like", she says. I believe control is the key issue in their relationship and I will explore how this control and power shifts from Frank to Rita in the essay. Despite Rita's determination to do well, she clearly struggles early on by writing a poor essay. She has never passed a written test in her life and so has no experience. Despite oiling the door to Frank's office, there are more serious barriers preventing her from fulfilling her potential, mainly Denny's objection to Rita learning at University. This climaxes when in scene 5, Denny burns all of Rita's work and books when he finds out that she is on the pill. However, this does not stem Rita's lust for knowledge, which she describes as "The thing that gets her through the week". This again shows Frank's power, as she is clearly dependent on him and again her determination to become educated. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also significant is the fact that Rita can finally write essays to exam standards and her academic level is that of the other students. Finally, what could make a transformation more complete than changing your name as Rita reverts to her original name of Susan. At the end of the play Rita is much less na�ve and is not afraid to pass judgment on Frank and his behaviour. She had never seen him as a partner sexually and realises that Frank is trying to control her, and that he is unhappy when he realises that he can't. Rita does well in her exam and can now choose to change her lifestyle if she wishes to. She finally realises that education is about choices and we are left optimistic about her future. However, the same cannot be said of Frank. The fact that he tries to persuade Rita to come with him to Australia suggests that he is unable to let her go and start her life afresh. It is now Frank who relies on Rita! The play is unique as it ends in both a happy and tragic way. We are inclined to believe that Frank will continue to be the same drunken lecturer that he was at the start of the play, whereas for Rita the future is bright and promising as she finally realises that education is not about what clothes to wear or how to behave, but it is about choices and having full control over your life and the path you will take. David Macfarlane ...read more.

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