Outline the changes Rita goes through during the play "Educating Rita" by Willy Russell.
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Outline the changes Rita goes through during the play "Educating Rita" by Willy Russell. Is Frank's quote, "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 and hollow and tuneless," a fair comment? Rita undergoes many changes throughout the play. As the title suggests, Rita gains an academic education during the story, but she also learns a great deal about the lessons of life. In the beginning of the play, Rita seems to be "only" a hairdresser, for she is blunt, and she speaks in a colloquial way with a lot of slang. For example, in scene one, she associates a religious painting as "pornography of its day", she uses slang such as "bleedin", she drops the end consonants of her words and she swears profusely. In the second scene, she teaches Frank the phrase "off one's cake". She refers to many television programs, even commercials, when she calls Frank "A Flora Man". In scene three, she is "under the impression that all books are literature", a view she changes later on. Rita calls Frank a "geriatric hippie" just because of his hairstyle. Rita also chooses to read pulp fiction, and does not appear to be familiar with any of the classics.
She takes control, ripping up her own essay, even when Frank tries to reassure her. In act two, we see that Rita has fitted in with society. She buys new clothes while she is at summer school, and answers with conformity to her tutors. Another physical change in her is that she stops smoking, when at the beginning of the play, she emphasized her need to fight against life. Rita also tries to force Frank into writing poetry, when before she meekly left him to his own business. She starts to exercise control and her own ideas upon Frank, opening his windows and scolding him. We realise at this point that Rita is ahead of Frank - she has already studied all the songs of "Innocence and Experience", and has begun to lose that purity, innocence and freshness that Frank prizes in her. In the next scene, Rita changes her voice and accent, trying to speak like a member of the upper class. She also converses freely with students, confident that she is now on their level. However, Frank is rejected by his students, who report him to the university. We recognise the dramatic reversal of roles over the next four scenes. At the beginning, Rita was adamant that she needed Frank.
Rita recognises that it is not so fantastic to be an educated woman - she discovered her flatmate, who appeared "calm and cool", tried to kill herself. Rita also sees Tiger's stupid side. In a way, she has "seen the light" - her education has given her choices to make, and she is able to make the right ones - she can choose to be educated, but she doesn't need to lose herself. At the very end, we know for sure that Rita has reverted to herself in this way, as she impulsively cuts Frank's hair, just as she promised to at the beginning of the play. It is evident that, in the last part Rita has gone through many changes throughout the play. However, Frank's comment is not finally correct, because we can clearly see that Rita has changed for the better. As she commented herself, education has "given her choices", in contrast to Denny, who was limited to "picking one of eight kinds of lager". Rita had a choice to follow the upper class in their predictable lives, but luckily, she chose against it. At the end, we are confident that Rita has found what she wanted - to gain an insight into the world so that she can make her own decisions, while still keeping her unique identity. Lillian Ong Page 1 of 3
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