In this essay I will comment on why Rita wants to change and the devices that Willy Russell uses to show these changes to the audience.
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In this essay I will comment on why Rita wants to change and the devices that Willy Russell uses to show these changes to the audience. "Educating Rita" by Willy Russell tells the story of "Rita", a twenty-six year old hairdresser, who is trying to find herself and the changes she goes through to do just that. As Rita enters Frank office she uses very informal language. A lot different from the ordinary student. Rita's first, clumsy entry reflects her social inferiority rattling at the door knob and unable to get in. Finding it difficult to break into Frank's world, her strong Liverpudlion accent clearly identifies her as coming from a completely different background. However, there is an air determination about her which Frank finds impossible to ignore. She is like a "breath of air", different from all the other students, and it is this freshness which is so appealing. When talking about the picture of a nude religious scene hanging on Frank's wall, Rita asks her tutor whether or not he thinks of it as erotic. On hearing Frank's reply, "I suppose it is", Rita's reaction is to state, "There's no suppose about it Look at those tits". This is typical of Rita and Frank's conversation as they got acquainted. Their subjects of conversations quickly change, Rita offering Frank a cigarette and talking about people being afraid of death, which then reminds her of a poem on the same topic.
Rita describes how, as a child, she had a yearning to attend boarding school because of her vision of "tuck-shop", "matron" and "prep". She describes her dissatisfaction with her own schooling: "borin', ripper-up books, broken glass everywhere, knives an' fights". Although she jokes, "An that was just the staffroom", the audience senses that there's a serious issue underlying all this cheerful banter. Rita explains that although the teachers tried their best, she was unable to commit herself to her education because there was no academic atmosphere. Studying was for the "whimps", as she puts it, and for her to take school seriously she would have to become different from her friends. She now considers that it was this need for conformity that led to a rather shallow existence: music, clothes and "lookin' for a feller" seemed to be the sum total of her experience. Rita's success at summer school means that she is brimming with confidence. She has stopped smoking, moved in with a new flatmate called Trish and, as she admits, "I'm having the time of me life". Frank tries to introduce Rita to the work of a "new" poet but he is surprised to learn that she has already "done" William Blake at summer school. Rita recites a poem from memory and explains that even though Blake was not on the syllabus, one of her tutors was such a "Blake Freak" that she ended up reading his works anyway.
Her illusions of their academic prowress are shattered as she wins her argument with the other students about D.H.Lawrence. This represents a shift in her attitude and confidence. Rita is now able to hold her own in academic circles, whether it be down on the lawns below Frank's window or in a more formal manner at the summer school. Rita reports that one of the students, nicknamed Tiger, has invited her on a Christmas vacation to the South of France with the rest of his crowd. Frank reacts with what appears to be jealousy, making excuses about why she would be unable to go. Rita is shocked and cuts Frank short, suggesting that he is being ridiculous. The scene ends, however with Frank returning one of Rita's essays, telling her that it "wouldn't look out of place", with the other students on his desk. At the beginning of the play Rita had no confidence in herself, no educational background and didn't interact with the other students. Now this has all changed as Rita has an abundance of confidence, summer school has been exceedingly good for her, educating her and now she is not fearful of the other students. She is actually quite the opposite and joins in with debates and wins arguments. These changes are very positive as she has got exactly what she wanted and has much more choice career wise. She does not feel "out of step" anymore she feels like a better person and has found herself.
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