Comparing the Opening Scene of Educating Rita to the Opening Scene of Pygmalion

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Comparing the Opening Scene of Educating Rita to the Opening Scene of Pygmalion These plays revolve around the theme of an upper class, well-educated man transforming a lower class woman into someone like himself. One is Pygmalion; a play set in the time when there was a very distinct class system and members of different classes avoided each other as much as possible. Educating Rita is set much more recently, when the classes mingled much more frequently and when the class system was much less distinct. However, the differences between Frank and Rita are still very apparent. Both of these are situations which could prove to be quite comical because of the culture clash. I am going to compare the opening scenes and explore the characterisation of the main characters. In both plays, the teachers are reluctant to teach their pupils. Higgins is reluctant at the beginning of the scene to teach Liza, but towards the end, when he gets more excited about the challenge, he really wants to. This is different to Educating Rita, in which Frank is willing to teach Rita at the beginning of the scene, because he needs the money, but as he learns more and more about her, he becomes more and more reluctant. He realises that Rita wants to be more like him, but he doesn't like what he is. He sees something in her that perhaps he wishes he was, or had. He realises that it isn't that great being an upper-middle class intellectual, and he doesn't believe that it is worth the effort that Rita has to go through to be one. This is apparent later on in the play, in Act II Scene iv: RITA I've got a room full of books. I know what clothes to wear, what ... ... middle of paper ... ...n comes into a man's office and asks him to teach her. In both, he is reluctant to do so, and she says that she might change her mind, and in both, the lessons are eventually agreed upon. The main difference is how the teacher views himself and how the student views him. Frank is quite self-critical and sees his middle-class existence as bleak whereas Higgins is very arrogant and content with his upper-class superiority. In both plays, you get the feeling that because the student goes to the teacher, she looks up to him. She knows he can change her for the better. Although both plays revolve around the same theme - a man from a superior class educating a younger woman from a lower one - there are obvious differences between them. At least some of these are due to the different time periods in which the plays are set.
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