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How does Rita's character change and her relationship with Frank alter during the course of the play?

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Introduction

How does Rita's character change and her relationship with Frank alter during the course of the play? "Educating Rita" is the story of a married working-class woman, Rita, trying to better and discover herself by attending an open university course. The play follows her as her character and relationship with her tutor, Frank develop and change until she finally passes her exams and they part. Rita completely transforms herself through her education and by the end she can choose what to do next rather then being swept along by circumstances and everyone else's expectations. Rita says that she only wants a baby when she's got choice and by educating herself she is getting choices. Willy Russell writes that "education gives you a choice" and I think by this he means lots of different types of choice. Firstly it gives you choices on careers and your future jobs, you have a lot more options with education, education helps you see different views and different ways of thinking and teaches you about different choices. You can choose whether or not to accept them. If you are educated on a subject you won't feel ignorant and you can choose if you want to express your views or not, instead of keeping quiet because you don't know. In educating Rita there are lots of examples of Rita becoming more able to choose to express her views because she has been educated. When she encounters a group of students on the lawn in Act 2 scene 2, a student starts talking "rubbish" and Rita makes a choice to correct him. She tells Frank that she thought "I could keep walkin' and ignore it or I can put him straight. So I put him straight", the uneducated Rita wouldn't have had those choices. At the beginning of the play Rita is nervous and unconfident, she needs constant reassurance from Frank asking questions to check his opinions against hers, "Do y' think I'll be able to do it?" ...read more.

Middle

is holding, shows that despite Rita's new found confidence she is still very nervous around other educated people. You can see this in act 1 scene 6, when Rita is invited to the dinner party her sentences get very short from the long speeches full of enthusiasm she was using before, "oh", ""if y' want", "All right". By doing this Willy Russell conveys how unsure Rita is. Rita doesn't go to the dinner party because she feels out of place, she'd brought the "wrong sort of wine" and all her dresses looked "bloody awful", she feels unable to talk to any of "the likes of them". She explains her situation really well to Frank telling him "I'm a freak. I can't talk to the people I live with any more. An' I can't talk to the likes of them on Saturday, or them out there, because I can't learn the language", Rita calling herself a freak shows how strange she feels, to be unlike anyone else, stuck in the middle. She seems to be cut off from anyone but Frank, and so she is very reliant on him, I think Frank likes this as it makes him feel needed and important, even though he wants her to "learn the language" and be able to talk to everyone. When Rita says she "can't learn the language", she expresses how hard it is to talk to everyone, like they're speaking a different language. After the dinner party Rita briefly lapsed back to her old way of life, to the pub but then her mother cries because they "could sing better songs than these" and Rita becomes more determined than ever to continue her education This comes to a climax when Rita leaves her husband, he forces her to choose between him and her education and she chooses her education. This is an example of how much she's changed from the girl who might be "packin' the course in" if she gets the wrong tutor to one who is sacrificing her marriage for the sake of her education. ...read more.

Conclusion

Rita's name change completes the change in herself, she changes it back to Susan because she sees calling herself Rita as "pretentious crap". This is not because she's embracing her roots again but because she no longer admires the author she named it after and maybe because of Trish's influence. Eventually Rita passes her exams and comes back to Frank to thank him and tell him he's a good teacher. She has been shaken out of her false world by the attempted suicide of her flat mate Trish and she explains to Frank that although he thinks he gave her nothing but "a load of quotes and empty phrases" it wasn't him that did that. She was just too "hungry" for everything. Frank gave her an education which gave her a choice, she could chose whether or not to do the exam and she choose to do it. Now she has done the exam she says "I might go to me mother's, I might even have a baby. I dunno, I'll make a decision, I'll choose." This shows how Rita is at a point where she can choose what to do next, she is confident and although she admits the exam might have been "worthless" it still gives her a choice. Her education has given her the chance to take control of her own life. I think Willy Russell clearly shows how education can change people and how others around them react to the changes, that's one of the main themes of the play. Willy Russell grew up in a place where he wasn't expected to learn or be anything more then a factory worker and he saved up money and took a course to help him become a writer. I think that Willy's attitude to education comes through in the events and situations Rita's faced with, sure education gives you choices: but you have to make sure you make the right ones! ...read more.

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