Educating Rita Reflective Essay Sample
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Educating Rita Reflective Essay Sample
In my essay I shall write an analysis to show how Willy Russell develops the characters of Frank and of Rita in his play ‘Educating Rita’. This play is a 20th Century play and was set in the 1980’s. This is important as we can see the language at this time in the 1980’s. I will look at how the writer, Willy Russell, uses language, how he shows the development of the characters Frank and Rita and then show evidence using quotations. I will have to look at how both of the characters have change throughout the play, from when they meet each other till when they part ways at the end of the play.
I will look at what each character wanted and whether they have developed according to that and how other characters in the play may view their change throughout the play. For example Frank and Rita may think they have got what they wanted but Denny may think that Rita has not developed or changed for the better. Firstly I will start by telling you about what the characters are like. Rita is an uneducated working housewife, stuck in a world her husband and family won’t let her escape from. She is unhappy unsure of herself and wants to be educated like other students.
She wants to fit in, and become more confident in herself and mainly she wants to find herself. This is the reason she decides to enrol herself into an Open University course where she meets Frank. Frank is also stuck, but this time on a path to self-destruction. He is a self-pitying ex-poet with a dire drinking problem currently trying to teach university students. He is unhappy with his life, he despises the students he teaches everyday and then Rita bursts into his life and he seems drawn to her.
At the beginning of the play Rita makes an entrance by bursting through the door, which can be seen as the struggle in which she has gone through in her life. As soon as she walks in she notices a picture which Frank has not noticed in ten years. This shows Rita’s enthusiasm compared to Frank. From the way they both address the issue you can tell that they come from very different backgrounds. Frank says the picture is “beautiful” but Rita says “it’s very erotic” We can tell from this that Frank is a cultured man who sees past the vulgarity of the picture that Rita sees.
She doesn’t have the knowledge or understanding of something like that to see anything other than its front. Frank at this point seems very depressed as at the beginning of the play it starts with Frank looking for his hidden bottle of alcohol. At this point however Rita seems full of life and enthusiastic to learn. This is shown in their difference in opinion of the picture in Frank’s office. We can also see that Frank is confident in himself although he is a bit of a wreck shown in the way that he cannot remember where he has hidden the alcohol; “Where the hell?…. E’…. ‘e’….. Dickens. ”
Rita at the beginning when she first walks in is a bit nervous and intimidated by Frank’s intellect and class, as she walks in and does not understand that Frank is asking her name; “I’m what? She also calls herself Rita, instead of her real name Susan, from the author of a book she has read, which she thinks is great; ‘Rubyfruit Jungle’. When Frank and Rita both meet in Frank’s office for the first time in Act one Scene one we the audience discover that Rita has a very strong Liverpool accent and used a great deal of slang.
She is also very talkative and uses informal language (foul language). This also reveals to the reader that Rita is very uneducated since she did not do well in school as explained already. Rita’s language at the beginning of the play is colloquial and the text shows that she has a working class accent. Throughout the play, as she integrates herself more and more into the society she aspires to, her language improves to a great extent. In Act 2 Scene 2, she tries to change her accent and ‘talk properly’ although she soon reverts to her normal tones.
Willy Russell the author has deliberately created this effect so that the audience suspects that there will be no hope for Rita in learning and getting what she wants out of the course. Frank is an educated man, albeit a troubled one, which is perhaps the reason for his pessimistic outlook on life. This is reflected in his language. He is very sarcastic; a perfect example of his sarcasm is this extract – where he is on the phone to his partner Julia: “. . . Look if you’re trying to induce some feeling of guilt in me over the prospect of a burnt dinner, you should have prepared something other than lamb and ratatouille . . Because, darling, I like my lamb done to the point of abuse and even I know that ratatouille cannot be burned . . . Darling, you could incinerate ratatouille and it still wouldn’t burn. . ”
He uses his sarcasm as a fai?? ade for the problems he faces with his job and his home life – these problems are also the reason for his drinking. Frank speaks Standard English and it does not seem that he speaks with a strong liverpudlian accent like Rita does. The overall language theme of the plays humorous – the writer Willy Russell makes the interaction and repartee between Frank and Rita witty and entertaining.
Sometimes in parts of the play Frank and Rita so completely miss each other’s points they could be speaking different languages. So what I have gathered so far is that they are both two very different people. Frank is quite surprised with Rita and what she is like. Frank looks like an alcoholic who hates his life and Rita can be seen as a young woman who is enthusiastic about life and wants to learn in order to give herself choices in life. They are both different classes, Rita being from a working class family that is not prosperous or well educated although Frank is a middle class man who has a descent house and is very well educated.
Rita sees this Open University course as a chance to find herself and to give herself choice, sort of like a second chance, on the opposite end Frank is doing it only because he has no choice, he does not like teaching, he does not like the students but he needs to earn money. In Act 1 Scene 1 we find out a lot about both Rita and Frank’s attitudes. From the off – with the one-sided phone call we hear between Frank and Julia, we are introduced to a sarcastic yet witty man who obviously likes to spend rather a large amount of time in the pub.
The symbolism used at the beginning when Rita is trying to get in but the door handle won’t budge portrays Frank’s stubbornness and how set in his ways he has become. This is also repeated later on when Rita tries to open the window but that will not open either, the symbolism culminates when Frank describes Rita as “the first breath of fresh air that’s been in this room for years. ” For Frank, Rita is not only the first ‘breath of fresh air’ for the room but for him in his life too. He hates his job and the students he has to teach.
He tells Rita that he sometimes gets the urge to through something through the window; “a student usually” This again shows Frank’s sarcastic nature but also of how trapped he feels in the job. Rita breathes life back into both him and his passion for the work that he does. Rita comes from a working class background but her views are unexpected. She says “I’m twenty-six. I should have had a baby by now; everyone expects it but I wanted a better way of livin’ me life. ” Rita wants to change herself. She doesn’t want to do what is expected of her she wants to ‘discover’ herself.
She says that ’round her way’ they would think she was mental for wanting to change. Her husband, Denny, is dead set against her getting an education. He wants them to get a nicer house, settle down and start a family but Rita doesn’t want to. She loves him but she thinks that he’s ‘thick’ when it comes to the sort of thing she’s trying to learn. She goes to Frank and asks him to teach her ‘everything’. In Act1 Scene 1 Rita talks about her work as a hairdresser. She says “they walk in the hairdressers and an hour later they wanna walk out a different person. I tell them I’m a hairdresser, not a plastic surgeon.
But these woman, you see, they come to the hairdressers cos they wanna be changed. But if you want to change y’ have to do it from the inside, don’t y’. Know like I’m doin’. ” This sums up Rita’s attitude perfectly. She sees through her work that you can’t just buy a new dress or have your hair done if you want to change. She sees through that superficial veil and realises that if she wants to change she’s going to have to do it from the inside. This is where Frank comes in. Rita knows that if she gets an education in the things Frank can teach her she can try and make a better life for herself.
During the course of the play, Frank sets her essays to do. The first essay she is given to do, is one on Ibsen’s Peer Gynt. She writes 1 line. Frank manages to persuade Rita to go and see Macbeth at the theatre, and she loves it. I think at this point in the play, Rita is just starting understand things a bit more. She says, “Wasn’t his wife a cow eh? And that fantastic bit where he meets Macduff an’ he thinks he’s all invincible”. This tells me that she is coming out if herself and maybe even starting to enjoy literature.
About half way through the book, Rita starts to feel out of place with everyone. She feels that she is too educated for her family and people around her, but not educated enough to be around Frank. She says “I can’t talk to the people I live with any more. And I can’t talk to the likes of them on Saturday or them out there. I’m half-caste”. She feels she is in a different league to everyone else, and I think this part of the play is a tough time for Rita because she is confused and doesn’t know where she belongs and all she does know is that she doesn’t belong with the people she lives with.
During the play, as part of the OU (Open University) course, Rita goes to summer school. This is where the change in Rita begins. When she first gets there, she isn’t very confident, and at first she feels out of place. Rita and Frank’s language and behavior is very different compared with each other. For example the contrast between Rita’s usage of foul language and Frank’s very negative attitude towards teaching Rita. This also causes confusion because Rita is gasping for knowledge but Frank wants to quit the ability to teach others.
Despite this Frank still decides to teach Rita, this is because he likes her attitude and humor, which enlightens him. The reason why Rita wanted to be educated is because as mentioned before she wants to gain the respect of a true educated person and lives her husband ‘Denny’ who persuades her to think that all he wants is children but all Rita wants at the time is the same thing in which Frank wanted or got; knowledge, “Denny found out that I was on the pill again, it was my fault I left my prescription out. He burnt all my books.
Most of Rita’s family is uneducated and stay in pubs most of the time but Rita’s mother also realizes the same thing Rita has, when one time Rita was in a pub with her family and are singing songs, her mum says to Rita, “There are better songs to sing than this,” which basically means that the family can do better in life, that she can do better. Now I will be looking at how both Frank and Rita have developed throughout the play and different interpretations of their development. I will also look at how Rita is developing in terms of what she wants as well as ways Frank is learning and changing his attitudes.
In looking at how Will Russell presents this development I will also look at how he makes the play work as a drama by showing how he keeps interest with only two speaking characters throughout the play. Now if we have a look at Rita in the beginning she is an innocent young woman who wants an education so she can feel confident about herself, she wants choice. Right from the moment she meets Frank we can see what she is like and as her time with Frank progresses she changes. She changes in terms of Educating, socially and physically.
At the beginning of the play, Rita’s understanding of literature is little but she does have a general thirst for knowledge which is shown by her feeling ahead of her family yet not to the standards of Frank. When asked to ‘Suggest how you would resolve the staging difficulties inherent in a production of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt’ she wrote simply “Do it on the radio. ” This is a prime example of how Rita sees things. Just do it the simple way. But as she progresses throughout the play she comes on in leaps and bounds. This is helped a great deal by her attendance of summer school, which occurs between Acts 1 and 2.
In the very last scene of Act 1 we discover that Rita has also taken the momentous step to leave her husband Denny. This inspires her onward and upward with her education. At summer school she gains more confidence in herself as an ‘educated woman’. This extract shows that although she is fast becoming the sort of person she desires to be she is still Rita inside “Y’ know at first I was dead scared. I didn’t know anyone. I was gonna come home. But the first afternoon I was standin’ in this library, y’ know lookin’ at the books, pretendin’ I was dead clever.
Anyway, this tutor come up to me, he looked at the book in me hand an’ he said, ‘Ah, are you fond of Ferlinghetti? ‘ It was right on the tip of me tongue to say, ‘only when it’s served with parmesan cheese’, but, Frank, I didn’t. I held it back an’ I heard meself sayin’, ‘Actually I’m not too familiar with the American poets’. ” She talks of her insecurities, the feeling that again, she didn’t belong but even though she thought a tongue in cheek reply, she had the choice this time to say something more tactful. This is due to her educational development.
It is this choice that she speaks of when upon sitting her exam; she is faced with the question: ‘Suggest how you would resolve the staging difficulties inherent in a production of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt’. “But I had a choice. I chose me. Because of what you’d given me I had a choice I wanted to come back and tell you that. That y’ a good teacher. ” At the beginning she right essays as she sees them, which shows her enthusiasm and her knowledge of certain books. She wants to learn and she is taught about literature, how to analyse texts and write essays like other students.
As she has now received an education from Frank she is confident enough to answer questions, have discussions and talk to the other students but the most important thing to her is that she was able to pass the exam and she had choice. She could sing better songs. She could choose to do what she wants; she says she can go and have a baby if she wants, get a job if she wants but what Frank has given her in terms of education she is able to use that and do what she wants, she has choice which is what she wanted so in this way she has developed in her eyes as this is what she wanted.
She is now intelligent, confident, and free, so in her eyes from what she wanted she has developed since meeting Frank however in others people’s eyes she may not have. Frank towards the end is unhappy with what Rita has become; she has changed her name back to Susan, she is like all the other students. Frank sees that from the beginning she is different, she is unique and this is what attracted him to her unlike all the other students and this is what Frank does not want her to become. She also develops in terms of her social life; she is meeting new people interacting with people like Tiger and other students, she is more like the students.
At the beginning of the play, Rita is a twenty-six year old, working class hairdresser. She’s married and she lives in suburbia with her husband Denny and her family nearby. They all meet up in the pub and Rita is expected to stay in this environment and raise a family. She is also uneducated hence her work as a hairdresser. Rita however is unlike the rest of her clan and doesn’t aspire to settling down and relinquishing herself to stretch marks just yet. She wants to discover herself and sees taking an English Literature course at the Open University as an answer. And for her it is.
By the end of the play Rita has developed in the sort of person she aimed to become and has successfully integrated herself into that society. She had broken away from her husband and family and moved to a trendy part of London into a flat share with a woman of her own age. She’s stopped working as a hairdresser and stopped calling herself Rita. She says to Frank “Rita? Nobody calls me Rita but you. I dropped that pretentious crap as soon as I saw it for what it was. ” She has reverted back to her real name, Susan, which is far more fitting to the society in which she now exists.
In Act 2 Scene 5 when her and Frank are having a fight and Frank’s drinking has become alarming, Rita goes to him to tell him that she has read his poetry and thinks that its; “More resonant than – purely contemporary poetry in that you can see in it the direct line through to nineteenth century traditions of – of wit an’ classical allusion. ” Frank argues back that his poetry is in fact; “this clever, pyrotechnical pile of self-conscious allusion is worthless, talent less and could be recognized as such by anyone with a shred of common sense. ”
Here we can see she has grown in confidence and developed well socially, essentially she no longer needs Frank where as before she needed him, she told him everything, now she has Trish and her other friends at the bistro. She wanted confidence and in terms of what she wanted she has developed. Frank does not like what she has become; one of the students he despises so much, and Denny will think that she has developed as she is no longer with him and he is happily married again with a child. Frank towards the end of their lessons becomes disheartened because of what he has seen Rita become.
Well it wouldn’t look out of place with the rest. ” This shows that she has turned into a student, the ones Frank despises, and he sees that she has lost her uniqueness. In this way Frank has seen her change but maybe not in a good way in his eyes. We can also see throughout the book that Rita seems to change her appearance, as at the beginning she seems to be in tight clothing with blonde hair and having it up as shown in the film but coming to the end when she is at summer school she seems to have dark hair, wear sensible clothes and look like a normal confident student not a loud person.
Overall Rita has grown in terms of education as she is able to compete with the other students and this has given her confidence to talk to other students which links to how her social life develops as she can talk to people like Tiger and Trish and is not depending on Frank like she was in the beginning where she told him everything. Throughout her development she changes her appearance which just exaggerates her development from the beginning o the end of the play. Now I will talk about how Frank develops after meeting Rita.
We can see at the beginning he is a miserable drunk who hides alcohol behind books and despises the students he teaches as he says he sometimes gets the urge to throw them through the window. From the moment Rita bursts through is door we know he is quite surprised with her. He sees a unique personality in Rita and acts almost a different person when he is with her. Normally he would dread teaching classes and only agreed to teach on and O. U course to earn money but as he gets to know Rita he looks forward to it.
He would normally be drunk and would not be able to teach yet when he is teaching Rita he feels he can be happy, he is comfortable around her and they can talk to each other. Frank develops largely and one scene I hove chosen to look at where frank develops is Act 2 Scene 1. Frank is typing poetry at the beginning of the scene, which is he said he gave up before. This shows a development in Frank as he has changed his mind about his poetry. And is writing it, even though later in the play he says it is rubbish. Frank has also started to smoke again. This is another development in his character.
He stubs out a cigarette. Frank said he gave up smoking earlier in the play, when he said “I made a promise not to smoke. ” This shows the audience that something is different with Frank and suggests that it may not be the only different thing. This can be shown to be true as Frank is holding a mug at his side. From earlier in the play, we know that there this is probably alcohol in the mug. This is another development from before because he didn’t drink for a while. Even though Frank is smoking now. He tries to hide this from Rita. He puts the cigarettes on the table.
This shows the audience that Frank may be ashamed of smoking and doesn’t want Rita to know. This is a development from the earlier Frank, because before he wouldn’t have cared what Rita thought, because she smokes herself. But now that she doesn’t smoke he doesn’t want to look he does, in fear of looking worse than Rita. Another development in Frank is he is becoming more down to earth like Rita was at the start of the play. He seems to have more fun now. He even makes something Rita says into a joke. When he takes her analogy the whole way;”Let’s get a watering can and water the carpet.
This creates humour for the audience and shows us a development in Frank from the one in the first scenes. Willy Russell has made this scene dramatic and entertaining. Russell wants the audience to be confused about Rita’s newfound knowledge and attitude. And created sadness and humour for Frank. Russell creates confusion for Rita because she is so different. The developments in Rita have been discussed and are part of what makes the audience confused and the scene entertaining. But the most confusing part is when Rita recites a Blake poem from memory.
This must be very weird for the audience to watch, as Rita has never done anything like that before. And she isn’t very good with poetry. In the next scenes we see even more drastic changes in Rita, and Russell creates a feeling of hate towards. The foundation for that is laid down in this scene, when the audience are confused by the new Rita they have seen. This scene is dramatic because we don’t know how Frank and Rita’s new developments will interact with each other. We don’t know how each will react to each other’s changes, and how they will get along.
At beginning of the scene it is not very dramatic. Nearer the end of the scene things are more dramatic as the changes in Rita are shown more and Frank is reacting to them. This drama also adds to the scenes overall entertainment. A small amount of sympathy is created for Frank we tell us that ‘Julia left’ him. But it turns out to be over something ridiculous and this creates humour for Frank. It is entertaining because it is something very trivial and was nothing to get into an argument about.
Frank also makes the scene entertaining when he makes fun of Rita. If you’re going to make an analogy, why don’t we take it the whole way? ‘ This is entertaining because Rita thinks she is very clever. Humour is created when Frank is being funny to prove her wrong. Russell also uses comedy at the end of the scene when he makes Frank say something sarcastically. ‘No. Of course’ this is sarcastic because Rita now thinks she is an expert of Blake. And Frank disagrees. This sarcasm is also humorous and makes the scene more entertaining. Looking at how he develops through this part of the play we can now see how he develops by look at what Rita gave him.