Rita’s Loss of Self Through Education in Willy Russell’s "Educating Rita"

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The preconceived ideas that Rita has about the working class, as well as the educated class, greatly limit the way that she sees people and their roles within the world. Throughout Willy Russell’s Educating Rita, we see that Rita uses education in an attempt to become a self-supporting individual and, in turn, shed the stereotypes that plague the working class. She attends the university in an attempt to free herself from the bonds that are holding her back from being the person that she believes she has the potential to be. But at the end of her transformation, the reader can see that all she has done is allow herself to be bound by a different set of expectations than she was before. Rita has not truly changed, she has only made superficial changes and conformed to another set of expectations. Although Rita wants to become an autonomous member of the higher class, her efforts to do this through education cease to be an act of individuality and she becomes dependent on her peer’s opinions rather than her own as she falls into the stereotypical role of an accomplished woman. As a result of Rita’s eagerness to become an independent member of the educated class through education, she conforms to the oversimplified pretence that surrounds the educated class, forfeits her own opinions and alters her true personality. Rita has many preconceived ideas about how people view her and the social class she belongs to. She believes that the class that she belongs to has no real substance, she believes that it isn’t refined. This becomes apparent when Rita says “I don’t see any culture; I just see everyone pissed or stoned tryin’ to find their way from one empty day to the next,” (32). Rita believes that the people that she lives among have n... ... middle of paper ... ...to gain an understanding of her world, the only knowledge that she chose to put to use was the comprehension of superficial things. This contributed to her acquiescence to the conventions of the educated class. Instead of becoming independent from the people she relied on, she became dependent on a different class of people. Rita goes into Open University with seemingly good intentions, but the reader can see that her conformity to the preconceptions about the educated class, the compensation of her true opinions and the alteration of her personality prevented her from becoming autonomous. These things were also the cause of her unique personality dwindling away. Rita may have believed that she was going to university to free herself, but education simply chained her to the stereotype of an accomplished person and creates a dependence on her peers and their views.
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