How does Willy Russell show Rita’s relationship with Frank changing over the course of the play? Comment on the influences on her to change. You should base your answer on Act 2 Scene 3 but include evidence from the whole play.
‘Educating Rita’ is a play that consists of a married working-class woman called Rita and her tutor Frank. Over the course of the play Rita is trying to discover herself as she has little education and a poor job as a hairdresser which leads her to trying the break free from her social class. Also “I should have had a baby by now every one expects it” is a line that Rita says that shows her discontent. Rita consequently wants to be more like Frank: educated, middle class and choice. Frank on the other hand is generally unhappy before he met Rita as he feels bored and trapped wanting to be more like Rita. This shows their relationship to already be strong as they want to be like each other but you witness there relationship develop and change until they part shortly after she finishes her exams. Russell cleverly leaves space for our own opinion on whether the change we see in Rita is good or bad and how this affects her relationship with Frank.
Russell sets up an example of Rita’s change very early in the play when she has her very first tutorial with Frank she can’t open the door and finds it to be a real struggle just to get into the room where she would be educated “It’s that stupid bleedin’ handle on the door.” Russell has done this to show us that Rita has too worked hard to have an education. If this is then compared to nearer the end of the play when Rita has no problems when opening the door it shows how she has changed from being uneducated to educated. Also we can see the door handle being like that as symbol of Frank’s life. More and more he is locking himself into his destructive habits while locking people out. As Rita says, “the poor sod on the other side won’t be able to get in. And’ you won’t be able to get out.”
Russell uses windows very cleverly as during the play it is frequently introduced to show Rita being trapped from getting what she wants or possible the different class between her and others. During the play Rita repeatedly looks out the window and looks at the students out side this shows that she is trapped and how she isn’t like the other students “do u every think I could be a real student”. Also the difference between Frank and Rita is shown when Rita is invited to Frank’s party. Rita looks through the window and sees Frank and all his guests. This demonstrates the different in class between Rita the working-class out side and Frank’s middle class inside the house.
Another example of Russell showing Rita’s change is her relationships with her family and friends. Rita’s opinion on her family drastically changes throughout the play as she is so determined to create a decent education for herself she starts to get into arguments with her boyfriend Denny, and because she is so determined to get an education she breaks up with him. This is unlike her as at the start of the play her character would never think of betraying or leaving him but because she is so wrapped up in it all they end up apart.
Near the beginning of the play Rita tells Frank how people want to come into the hairdressers where she works and go out a different person. She then says “if you wanna change, you’ve got to do it from the inside”. When saying this it shows her warm hearted opinion what is appreciated in the characters Frank’s eyes. This is later contradicted when Rita tries to talk posh, when like she said herself she should be changing from the inside. Also one of the main reasons she didn’t go to Frank’s party was because she wasn’t dressed appropriately which shows her being hypocritical.
The relationship between Frank and Rita is the main change throughout the play. For example at the start they both want what the other one has. Frank wanted the originality and fresh take on life of Rita. On the other hand Rita wants Franks is knowledge and education. This changes drastically through the course of the play as Rita becomes more educated and Frank becomes more of a free and relaxed nature. Rita starts to show less interest and care for Frank as she become more educated as she feels that he is not much use to her. On numerous occasions we see Frank starts to miss the old care free Rita. He starts to use language that she used before she changed like “It was unavoidable”. Russell has done this to show Frank wanting Rita to change trying to get her to talk and act like she used to be. Russell also uses physical ways to show the changing in relationship between the two characters. Before at the start of the play Frank was very gentle and calm with Rita but later in the play when he was drunk he grabbed Rita’s arm and threw her into the chair below her “No – no – you must stay”. This shows us how desperate he is to have her under his control and her to want him.
Their relationship with each other unquestionably changes but whether it is for good or for bad is up for debate. Personally in my mind Rita’s changes undoubtedly for the worse as it has cause the fun lovable women to completely change into something that really doesn’t suit her character. Then Frank has entirely changed as well but maybe he has changed too much; I feel that the character should enjoy his life but not change who he really is too much. The relationship between them changed from a close one to one of a appalling nature. Frank desperate for Rita and Rita didn’t seem to care. Over all I feel people should have to change to fit in because as you saw in the start Frank liked Rita for who she was so therefore there was no need for change.