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How does Willy Russell present the changing relationship between Rita and Frank in Act 1 Scene 1 and Act 2 Scenes 4 and 5 of Educating Rita?

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Introduction

How does Willy Russell present the changing relationship between Rita and Frank in Act 1 Scene 1 and Act 2 Scenes 4 and 5 of Educating Rita? First, Willy Russell presents the changing relationship between Rita and Frank right at the beginning of each of these scenes by the timing of Rita's arrival. In Act 1, Frank is waiting "because I've got this Open University woman coming", and Rita turns up on time and has a problem getting into the room because the handle is broken. This is like a symbol of her problems with starting to learn. At the beginning of Act 2 Scene 4, Rita is late and the stage directions just say "Rita enters". She has moved the relationship forward by fixing the handle herself. She is not only late, she is casual about being late and does not mind whether her excuse hurts Frank's feelings. He starts acting like an insecure schoolboy, whining at her that "there was a time when you told me everything" and laughing at her new job. Later in the scene she leaves her class early so she can go and see a Chekhov play. She realises this will hurt him, and she pauses, but she says it anyway: "I'm sorry I was late. (After a pause she gets up) Look, Frank, I've got to go." At the start of scene 5 she comes back unannounced and just bursts into the room. Frank's attitude towards Rita in the first scene of the play is confused and slightly embarrassed. ...read more.

Middle

Then there is a misunderstanding between beautiful and erotic about the picture, and Frank's statement that "the term 'beautiful' covers the many feelings I have about that picture, including the feeling that, yes, it is erotic", which sounds superior and pompous, and leads Rita to feel put down. There is a misunderstanding about what Rita is going to smoke, and Frank's decision only to smoke in secret. There are mistakes and misunderstandings about authors and books. Rita keeps testing Frank, and he does not understand that it is because she is nervous. It turns into Rita interviewing Frank instead of the other way around. There are language misunderstandings like Flora and assonance. Frank actually says that Rita is "marvellous. Do you know, I think you're the first breath of air that's been in this room for years", but Rita thinks he is "taking the piss". Frank is not used to a student who explains everything about her life in so much detail. In Act 2 Scene 4 Rita understands the same things as Frank about books, but the misunderstandings are now about emotions. She does not consider that he would be hurt by her turning up late or not turning up at all or talking to the students instead of to him. It is like they have changed to being different generations. She likes the younger students because "they're not trapped - they're too young for that. And I like to be with them." Frank says, "there was a time when you told me everything." ...read more.

Conclusion

I think that Willy Russell is trying to show us that what Rita has learnt is not necessarily a good thing for her, but we are not shown at the start that she feels comfortable in her life as it was before. What she wants is to put her old life as far behind her as possible. Frank despises Rita for her snobbery. In the first scene he sees nothing wrong with being a hairdresser. He is just interested in whether she is good at it. He doesn't understand why she feels she needs to change her name. Rita already feels uncomfortable in her life. She confuses learning about literature with finding "a better way of livin' me life". Frank cannot see this because he already naturally is what Rita wants to become. In Act 2 he wishes Rita had not changed. The things she finds important now are the wrong values. He does not see that serving students in a bistro is any more valuable than cutting old ladies hair. He would prefer to have her real reaction to his poems than the literary criticism words that she hardly understands. The way he despises this is shown by the words he throws at her right at the end of Act 2 Scene 5, where he suggests she might change her name to Virginia Woolf or Charlotte, Jane or Emily Bronte. But that is being unfair to her when she has only changed her name back to its original. Willy Russell has presented the changing relationship between Rita and Frank in body language, language spoken by the characters, attitude, drinking, misunderstandings, awareness and knowledge shifts. 1 ...read more.

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