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Re-read Act 1 scenes 6 and 7 of 'Educating Rita.' How does Willy Russell suggest that these scenes are important stages in Rita's development?

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Sarah Sage English coursework assignment Lower 5 Selwyns Mr Halton 20th century drama Re-read Act 1 scenes 6 and 7 of 'Educating Rita.' How does Willy Russell suggest that these scenes are important stages in Rita's development? When we speak of the way that Rita is educated we speak of two different types of education. Frank is Rita's teacher for both these types of education as he is a person who Rita looks up to and 'idolises' to an extent. Not only is she educated in English Literature to gain a qualification, but also she is also educated to make the transition from the lower social class towards the middle one. Rita also sees Frank as someone to look up to, as he is where she wants to be in life. Scenes six and seven come roughly half way through the play. This is significant because we are looking at Rita halfway through her challenge of gaining an Open University degree and her challenge of becoming the person she truly wants to be. The play is centred on two main characters, Frank, a middle class, alcoholic University tutor and Rita, a working class, scouse hairdresser, who are very different. Rita decides to enrol on an Open University English Literature course in order to try to create a better life for herself. Her tutor for this course is Frank. However at first Frank tells Rita to find a new tutor, but Rita refuses and they continue to work together. ...read more.


It is at this point Rita begins to see through the window clearly and she acknowledges her desire to be on the other side of it. However, though she clearly wants to be middle class, her nerves always seem to get in the way. Russell suggests Rita's nervousness at the prospect of going to Frank's house for dinner y using short lines to create an atmosphere of tension: 'Will you come?' 'If y'want.' Most of Rita's lines comprise just one word, showing us how unsure she is and that for once she hardly knows what to say. We can infer that at this point, Frank is inviting Rita to enjoy a taste of middle-class life and although Rita would love to go, she feels deep down that she isn't ready yet, 'An' y' want me to come? Why?' Rita's unfamiliarity with the event is clearly observed because she is so anxious, that for example, she even asks Frank what she should wear. Russell opens scene seven with the conversation already begun so that Frank can explain indirectly to the audience what has happened between now and the last scene. Rita begins to sharpen her pencils, and this shows us that she is trying to avoid the issue that is being raised and that she feels embarrassed, awkward and guilty: 'What does the word 'sorry' mean if it's not an apology.' ...read more.


When Rita sees her mum crying in the pub, it scares her about what might happen is she doesn't do something. She realises that her own mum isn't honest with herself. 'I said: "Why are y' cryin' mother?" She said, "Because we could sing better songs than those."' In these two scenes, Willy Russell shows us how Rita has grown up and opened her eyes to reality, but also how she is still the same fiery woman that we first met. Rita now has the will power to complete her social class shift and she also has Frank's support behind her. Frank's words of wisdom and persistence show his affection for Rita and his wish for her to do well. In her mind, Rita is now ready to become a member of the middle class and forget her working class roots. In the succeeding scenes of the play, Rita leaves Denny, the anchor she feels was tying her down to a working class, and thus unacceptable, life. After she does this, Rita moves in with another woman who happens to be of middle class background. Rita learns a great deal from this woman and even changes her name back to Susan because she thinks that it sounds more appropriate for a middle class woman. In addition to these major changes Rita attends a poetry summer camp and this marks the final stage in her metamorphosis from a working class caterpillar to an elegant middle class butterfly. But as much as Frank wants her to fulfil her ambitions, he doesn't want the Rita he knows and admires to change. ...read more.

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