Educating Rita by Willy Russell

Educating Rita by Willy Russell

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Educating Rita by Willy Russell

Should Frank have educated Rita?

I have been studying 'Educating Rita' by Willy Russell. I am going to
write about the characters Frank and Rita in the play, and decide
whether Frank should have educated Rita.

When we first see Rita, she "bursts" into Frank's office without
thinking that she is meant to knock, wait for response and walk in
politely and responsibly. She says;

I am comin' in aren't I? It's that stupid bleedin' handle on the door.

You wanna get it fixed!

This statement above tells us that Rita has a working class accent
because she speaks in an informal language.

Frank thinks that Rita is energetic and enthusiastic about education,
although he finds her a little surprising. Frank is also delighted by
her straight forward and honest approach to life and education. We
know this because Frank calls her:

"…….. the first breath of air"

that has come into his room for years. Although frank is afraid that
education will change Rita drastically and she would lost her

Frank knows a lot about literature while Rita has read a lot of
popular fiction. Frank and Rita get on well as they share a sense of
humour. Rita thinks that the working class culture is rubbish because
she thinks they've been misled by the ITV, unions and the 'Daily
Mirror' she says;

There's somethin' wrong. An' like the worst thing is that y' know the

who are supposed to like represent the people on our estate, y' know

Daily mirror an' the sun an' ITV an' the unions what are they telling

people to do ? They just tell them to go out an' get more money don't

The unions tell them to go out an' get more money, an' ITV an' the

tell them what to spend it on so the diseases is always.

Frank thinks his students are 'appalling' and feels trapped by his
middle class lifestyle.

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He is also disenchanted with education. Rita
appreciates and admires the middle class lifestyle we know this
because she says;

"I don't want to be myself! What's me? Some stupid woman who gives all

a laugh because she thinks she can learn, she thinks that one day
she'll b

like the rest of them (middle class) talking seriously, confidently,

a civilised life"

She is basically saying that the middle classed people have a better
way of living and have choices from life.

Rita also expects education to give her 'everything'; choices in life
and an escape from the working class life she is currently leading.
She says;

"God what's it like to be free?"

Rita's school education was very poor and could be put in a nutshell
as 'no good'. Rita feels trapped by her working class lifestyle and
thinks that education will free her from it. She says;

"Studying was for whimps"

and therefore studied hard were called 'whimps' he also goes on saying
that school was boring and that if she had taken school seriously she
would have to become different from her mates which was 'not allowed'

Y' know; borin', ripped up books, broken glass everywhere, knives an'

fights. They tried their best I suppose.

Frank is afraid that Rita might lose her uniqueness and approach to
life and be like his 'appalling students' because he is enchanted with

Frank invites Rita and Denny to a dinner party at his house, Rita
prepares and makes her way to the party but when she gets to the
party, she is unable to knock on Frank's door because she is afraid,
non-confident and feels she isn't compatible enough to go to the
middle class party. She returns to the pub instead because she feels
belonged to the working class. Rita says:

"I am a freak, I am a half caste".

Denny on the other hand feels that education is more important to Rita
and therefore forces a choice on Rita on having a baby for him or
leave the house and have education. Unfortunately, Rita chooses to
have education and therefore leaves the house. Rita wants CHOICE from

Frank reads Rita's essay and says that there's nothing of her in the
essay he also tells Rita she would have to divert from listening to
everyone else and listen and listen to him alone, if she wants to pass
her exams.

Rita goes to summer school and her confidence increases greatly. We
notice this because she is able to discuss literature confidently with
students she meete on the lawn:

"Don't sound so surprised. I can talk now y'know, Frank"

Rita's way of dressing also changes in a way that she now knows what
clothes to buy and what to wear to suite each occasion. Frank doesn't
really like these changes because she is starting to have a min of her
own by listening to other people and not him only. Rita is greatly
influenced by her flatmate, Trish. Trish contributed to the changes in
Rita's dressing and makes her feel that there are other men except
from Frank. Rita has also copied Trish's accent.

Frank and Rita argue bitterly and Frank tells Rita:

"your song isn't better, only different"

Frank means that she has only changed but she's not better. Frank
compares himself to Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', a man who created a
monster and is then appalled by himself and his creation. Frank means
that he himself is Mary and he's created a monster Rita. Frank feels
abandoned and rejected when Rita no longer relies on him alone for
advice, but he is also selfish in wanting her to stay the same.

Rita seems to have lost touch with Frank. This is glaring because she
has an exam coming up but doesn't know because she hadn't seen Frank
for a while neither had she spoken to him. Frank dropped a message for
her about the exam at where she works as a waitress in a pub. Rita
finally goes to take her exam; whilst in the exam, at first she didn't
understand the question neither did she know the answer but something
rings a bell in her head then she remembers that Frank had explained
this to her and she knows the answer. She then begins to write. At the
end of the day however we find out that she passes the exams well. Due
to this, Trish tries to commit suicide because she sees that Rita
would become very independent and confident and Trish also sees that
Rita now knows that her lifestyle is not as good as she thought.

It's like Trish, y'know me flatmate. I thought she was so cool an'

together- I came home the other night and she'd tried to top herself

magic isn't ? She spends half her life eatin' whole foods an' the

trying to kill her self.

Rita has learnt a lesson not to be like other people but just to "be
you". She now knows that Trish's enviable lifestyle and self
confidence are a sham and this was exactly what Frank advised her to
do- be herself. Although Trish is a typical example of all the things
that Rita wanted for herself. Trish is exposed as inadequate enough to
commit a suicide.

Frank and Rita are no longer happy in their friend ship as the balance
of power has shifted. The balance of power has shifted from Frank
because Rita now has "a mind of her own". Rita returns to see Frank
and they are reconciled. Rita says to Frank that all she had done is;
take from him but the best she can do is take 10 years from him which
was to cut his hair off.

At the end of the play, we realise that Frank and Rita has both lost
and gained things. Frank has lost his girlfriend and job while Rita
has lost her family, husband, touch with her roots and her job but has
also gained education, choice from life and a better way of living. At
this point of my essay, I therefore think that it is right for frank
to have educated Rita because Rita has known "everything" and gives
all credit to him. Frank and Rita have both gone through a process of
education throughout the play. Frank has also learned that he is a
"good teacher ". Frank and Rita at the end of the play are now equals
and now look forward to the future. Frank asks Rita what she is going
to do now that she is finished. She says;

"I dunno I might go abroad or maybe have a baby I dunno"

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