By the end of the play Rita having a mind trained to think, has developed
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a confidence that enables her to make her own decisions. How far do you
think that Frank was solely responsible for this development.
By the end of the play Rita having a mind trained to think, has
developed a confidence that enables her to make her own decisions. How
far do you think that Frank was solely responsible for this
development, or do you think that Frank was simply' the key that
unlocked Rita's mind
In Educating Rita, the audience sees the wilful struggle of a working
class woman's thirst to be educated .A literature professor takes on
the challenge, because she is like 'a breath of fresh air'with a
totally uncluttered mind. He teaches her many things as well as
instils in her the self confidence to relate to almost anyone.
However; as she learns and grows, she not only becomes influenced by
others, she loses that part of herself that makes her unique and
individual; which makes her like all the rest.
Our first impressions of Frank and Rita are that they appear to be
complete opposites. They come from two contrasting social backgrounds;
Frank is a well educated man of middle upper class. Rita is an
uneducated working- class girl. Their jobs go from one intellectual
extreme to the other. Frank being a university professor while Rita
works as a hairdresser.
Rita is discontented with her present life, she feels incomplete, like
she's missed out on something. She feels that the so-called 'working
class culture 'she was brought up in is hollow and meaningless. Rita
is determined to get the education she never got, to raise the
standards of living, and also to raise her from her state of ignorance
to one of intellectual and social confidence. She looks down on
herself and the culture she belongs to, but is optimistic that she can
learn her way into a better way of life. She believes that freedom
will come with education; therefore Frank can give her this freedom by
Frank is also unhappy with his existence. He has everything Rita wants
from life but wishes he didn't. He turns to drink to make living in
the culture he hates more bearable. He doesn't want Rita to experience
the same thing, which is why he doesn't want to teach her. He doesn't
want to be the one to take away her simple, down-to-earth way of life
and replace it with the kind of life he has. In my opinion this shows
that Rita's determination played a greater deal in the development of
her education than Frank did. He barely wants to teach her at the
beginning of the play. Before Frank has even met Rita, he seems to
look down on her:
'I've got this open university woman coming, haven't I ...I shall need
to go to the pub afterwards , I shall need to wash away the memory of
some silly woman's attempts to get into the mind of Henry James..'
He talks as if Rita is below him, and incapable of studying and
understanding the same things that he and his ordinary university
students study and understand. He is prejudiced against Rita before
he's even met her; therefore when he does meet her, he's surprised.
She is not at all the stereotype working class girl that he expected.
Rita's use of language is very coarse and does not have the ability to
express literary concepts on anything but a basic level. Things that
don't really matter like wearing the right types of clothing and the
right type of wine preoccupy her.
'That's a nice picture.....Its very erotic. There's no suppose about
it. Look at those tits'.
Rita's language here shows how direct and nave she is. Most people
would not come straight out and say something like that but she does
not see the vulgarity of the way she speaks.'
Therefore being the reason that Frank does not want to teach Rita at
first. He tries to stop her coming to him for tutoring.
'Go back to what you do like and stop wasting my time. You go out and
buy yourself a new dress and I'll go to the pub.'
This proves how Frank sees Rita as a 'waste of time' and does not want
to teach her. It is Rita that becomes adamant about the fact that he
is her tutor and is determined to stay.
Frank finds himself faced with an unexpectedly fresh and uncluttered
mind. Rita tests Frank's intellectual talents to the full, by
requiring constant justification and explanation of statements that
would usually be taken for granted and accepted in a conversation
between a student and a tutor. Frank is intrigued by her freshness
showing that what Rita possesses is individuality,
'I think you're the first breath of fresh air that's been in this room
But to his dismay she comes near losing her identity at the end.Rita
rejects her working class origin and changes her name from Susan to
Rita. During the story you can realise the changes in Rita. At the
beginning she isn't interested in Howard's End and she couldn't
interpret books that Frank lent her correctly .Rita is too subjective
and you can see the influence of her social background, such as when
she stops reading Howard's End because E.M Forster quotes in the book
that, 'we are not concerned with the poor'. This shows that in my
opinion she was being very subjective at the time. Also she lacked
courage and confidence to go to Frank's dinner because of the academic
class and was afraid of talking to other students.
Changing her life Rita leaves her husband Denny who objects to Rita
getting an education. Her education is separating her from what was
her culture. Her education is forming a strong wall between the two.
She is now referring herself as two people, possibly the first stage
of their separation. There is the one character which Denny married,
and the other who has taken her place. Predictably enough the two
characters come to conflict when Denny burns her books. She seems at
this point however to be more concerned about the damage of her books
than Denny's feelings. Choosing her education over her Husband I think
shows how strong minded Rita is, and despite much opposition doesn't
let any obstacles in her way because she wants to follow her dream.
While Rita has lost her husband she wanted to be changed by Frank's
help but he was worried because he likes her natural character.
The biggest step for Rita was the summer school. At the summer school
Rita has learned much about authors and she comes in contact with
students. Frank is very impressed of her abilities. She changes her
lifestyle with new clothes and a new hair colour and was also
influenced by her flatmate Trish. We then see that Rita has attained a
new role model, her flatmate. She is someone who influences Rita to
change in many ways. One such way is to encourages Rita to change her
'As Trish says there is not a lot of point in discussing beautiful
literature in an ugly voice'
She is changing herself by becoming more like others; Rita is losing
her individuality and originality mainly towards Trish's opinions.
'Me an' Trish sat up last night and read them. She agrees with
me. what makes it more-more. .What did Trish say-?'
She has become less original intellectually and usually just repeats
facts from other people especially Trish to whom she refers to quite
often. In my opinion she seems a lot more arrogant to a point where
she only talks about facts and repeats other peoples quotes. At one
particular time where Frank is about to introduce her to Blake she
disregards it as, 'done him'. It's a monotonous, non-sentimental and
non-subjective answer unlike the old Rita who asked Frank whether he
had read work by T.S. Elliot was more excited by literature. Frank
realises this and explains to Rita that she has changed from her
innocent freshness to becoming an echo to other people. Instead of
being subjective, innocent and unique she is now standardised in her
judgement. This is what Frank feared Rita losing her uniqueness. This
caused an argument between Frank and Rita in which Frank brings up the
fact of her changing her name back to Susan again.
R: 'Rita? Rita? Nobody calls me Rita but you. I dropped that
pretentious crap as soon as I saw it for what it really was. You
stupidâ€¦Nobody calls me Rita.'
F: 'What is it now then? Virginia?'
F: 'Or Charlotte? Or Jane? Or Emily?'
Frank makes a point that now Rita is educated she doesn't want to
be'associated' with bad literature such as Ruby fruit Jungle and so,
he's mockingly suggests that her name should be changed to Virginia
Woolf , Charlotte Bronte , Jane Austen or Emily Bronte. The point that
Frank is trying to stress out here is that now Rita is now educated,
she is able to distinguish good literature from bad literature. Here
you can see that Frank is very distressed because he wants the old
Rita back. In act two, scene six he makes a big point of this when he
compares himself to Mary Shelly the author of Frankenstein.
'I think that like you I shall change my name; from now on I shall
insist upon being known as Mary Shelly'
In the quote, Frank compares himself to Victor Frankenstein a
scientist who dabbles in science and creates a monster which he cannot
control. The implication is that Frank has created the Rita who stands
before him and over whom he has now lost influence.
Rita also changed her job because she thought that she could talk in
the bistro about more important things than the hairdressers job, she
also begins to drift away from Frank by being less personal.
'I can look after myself. I wanna read and understand without havin'
to come running to you every five minutes.'
This proves that she is beginning to separate from Frank because she
doesn't come to tutorials on time and if she's late she would try and
'No honestly, Frank -I know I've wasted your time. I'll see y' next
Before she used to say that she could get through the weeks if she
knew she had Frank's tutorials to look forward to. Also she became
less public about her life to Frank such as the fact that she had
changed jobs and didn't tell Frank. She doesn't discuss personal
matters anymore. At one point near the beginning she used to tell
'It struck me that there was a time when you told me everything'.
Rita is becoming more reformed, instead of making sarcastic remarks
she has started to make interesting conversation when people talk to
her but now we come across the fact that she is losing her innocent
point of view. There is also a change in the way that she talks, her
language is not as bad; she doesn't swear as much as before and is
becoming to sound more educated. Also she has stopped smoking, a
ritual commonly related to the working class society.
It is also quite visible that Rita is beginning to fit in with the
other students because she stops on her way to the tutorial to talk to
students on the lawn. There were also signs that Rita was becoming
progressively more, confident. Where as before she used to be
intimidated by fellow students, she now openly challenged them,
voicing her own reasoning logic to. At the beginning Rita seemed to
have assumed that there was a boundary between educated people and the
working-class society. She used to be intimidated by them.
Rita is developing certain arrogance that she feels Frank is jealous
she is educated now, but he is actually concerned about the way she
was taught. Rita is also giving the impression that she is too good
for the tutorials and thinks she is learning more from the people she
is talking to rather than going to Frank's tutorials. Rita is coming
out and saying that she o longer needs Frank. In her eyes she has made
it. But as Frank says she is now 'singing a different song' not a'
better one'. Frank feels as though she has turned into just another
one of the students he gives lectures to. He shows his selfishness
when he is reluctant to teach Rita to pass her exams, he isn't even
sure if he wants to her know. I think he feels that he might lose her.
To give him some credit he is doing it because he feels that what Rita
has is 'valuable'
The last stage in Rita's education is when she makes a personal
discovery and finally realizes what she has become , that she is in
fact 'a load of quotes an' empty phrases'. This is what Frank had
tried to tell her all along. The influence and inspiration for Rita's
reconsideration was the suicide attempt for Trish the person she had
looked up to and followed. This made her think about all that Frank
had told her and what Frank had given her . She can now chose whatever
she wants to do that is what education had given her. She can be
individual again. Now from her own and other peoples perceptive she is
the educated woman she had always wanted to be.
In conclusion most of the changes in Rita's life in my opinion are
down to her self belief. We all have self belief, for some people this
self belief is so strong that allows them to achieve whatever they
want in life irrespective of setbacks. For some people the inner self
belief has to be unlocked and come into the open so that they too can
believe that they are achievers and gain confidence in ability and
decision making in the face of obstacles. Rita may have had the
ability to make sound and rational judgements for herself all along
.But she was never given chance or encouragement by her family or her
previous social setting to do so once she divorced herself from the
circumstances and the people who held her back all her life. She was
able to nurture her self belief and confidence through choosing a more
positive and better environment for herself Rita choose education and
choose to be surrounded with people with similar mind set. Rita turned
to Frank as a person she would talk to about everyday life. Frank
hardly gave encouragement because he liked the way Rita was and didn't
want her to change. Rita though some what relied on Frank and felt
that his existence in her life helped her through the development of
her education. However Rita wanted an education and that is what she
got, merely down to the determination she had. Even when Frank refused
to teach her she pleaded with him because she wanted achieve her
dream. Rita went to the theatre to watch Macbeth, not because Frank
wanted her to or encouraged her to, but because she wanted to
experience it herself. Frank wanted to think that he helped her
created her but in my opinion only helped her in the literary part.
Although he pushed her to build more of a confidence he also watched
her grow into the educated woman she became. Making Frank become too
attached to the relationship he had with Rita and wanted to think that
he was solely responsible. But as he watched what she was turning into
he didn't like it and wanted the unique fresh Rita back. So fair to
say that he was not solely responsible because he liked the way Rita
was in the first place. Rita brought about the change by becoming
involved with people that influenced her i.e., Trish and the type of
culture she was surrounded by and the wilfulness and self belief that
Rita consisted a lot of. I think that what the play is trying to show
is that people are all the same and most of the things you know will
end up being useless and empty. They both learn this in a different
way. Rita becomes educated , and learns that it is not up to what it
is made out to be and Frank learns this by meeting Rita, the lower
class girl. If you base your life around literature completely you
will end up being a very dull person with an empty life. Therefore I
believe that Frank was simply the key that unlocked Rita's mind.