Willy Russells "Educating Rita"
Educating Rita is a play about a working class girl who is tired of
her lifestyle and asks a university tutor to educate her in an attempt
to change her ways her life. Her tutor, Frank, shows her the cultures
and values of the middle class world as well as teaching her about
literature even though he too is tired of his lifestyle. Rita forces
herself to change and realises the damage she causes to herself,
acting as someone she isn't. Willy Russel writes about the clash of
cultures from each of the English classes.
In the beginning of the play when Rita and Frank first meet, they
hardly understand each other:
'Frank stares at Rita who stands by the desk
Frank: You are?
Rita: What am I?
Frank: (looking for admission papers) Now you are?
Rita: I'm a what?'
The way of speaking in each class is so alien to the other and both
Rita and Frank are totally bemused. Willy Russell uses this to show
how much each class is separated with the other and how little to do
they have with each other, each representative of each class in the
play is depicted as having made stereotypes of the other:
'Rita: Can I smoke?
Rita: Yeh. Was that a joke?'
'Rita: You wouldn't watch ITV would y'? Its all BBC with you, isn't
Frank: Well I must confess
Rita: It's all right, I know. Soon as I walked I here I said to
meself, 'Y' can tell he's a Flora man.
Frank: A what?
Rita: A Flora man.
Frank: Flora? Flowers?'
In these two passages in scene one, it is possible to see the
stereotypes that both Rita and Frank have of each other. Frank thinks
that Rita might want to smoke cannabis, and Rita initially thi...
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...hat she hadn't said it. But she had. And
that's why I came back', Rita feels that her family is acting in
pointless ways, pretending to themselves, e.g. like her mother, and
feels she cannot bear to keep living a lie and wants to be able live
how she wants to live, but in the end realises her education may not
have been as amazing for her as she thought, in the last scene she
tells of her flatmate and how she resented her lifestyle, in the end
trying to kill herself. Rita realised she didn't want just to be able
to regurgitate quotes and empty phrases, but to be herself, to enjoy
whatever aspects of each social class she wants.
In conclusion, the message that Willy Russell is trying to convey is
that the boundaries of social class can be broken, and the key to
success is to be yourself and embrace individuality rather to conform
to the sheep of society.