educating Rita study notes

Topics: Middle class, Working class, Social class Pages: 11 (3071 words) Published: March 1, 2014
Educating Rita
The play takes place entirely in Frank’s office at a university in the North of England. The Playwright
“I wanted to make a play which engaged and was relevant to those who considered themselves uneducated, those whose daily language is not the language of the university or the theatre. I wanted to write a play which would attract, and be as valid for the Ritas in the audience as well as the Franks.” Literary Elements

Frank – Frank is a middle aged, middle-class English professor who has taken on the extra job of tutoring an Open-University student. He claims that this is to help pay for the copious amounts of alcohol he drinks throughout the play. He is disillusioned with the university environment. He identifies closely with academia and cannot imagine leaving. He claims he is a terrible teacher and is a poet who hasn’t written anything in years. Frank’s central conflict is that he can offer Rita the knowledge and skills she wishes to gain in her quest to change her circumstances and transcend her class origins: however, to do this he believes he will destroy the very characteristics that make Rita such a breath of fresh air. Rita represents to him the very opposite of his own mundane, predictable and safe life. He deteriorates as she flourishes. He becomes emotionally dependant on her just as she is, initially, intellectually dependant on him; his dependence on her reflects his need to feel useful and influential when his guidance is no longer needed and Rita ventures out on her own, Frank is cut loose and his drinking spirals out of control. Frank is trapped by his class and circumstances and addiction, in some ways, as much as Rita is limited by her circumstances. In the final scenes of the play, as Frank prepares for his trip away from the university, we can imagine that he is about to embark on his own journey of self discovery and learning and it is Rita’s haircut that symbolically cuts him lose and prepares him for what is to come.

Rita (Susan) - Rita is a young working class hairdresser in her 20’s. She applies to study with the Open University. Rita’s real name is Susan, but at the opening of the play she introduces herself to Frank as Rita, a name she associates with a somewhat radical popular American author, Rita Mae Brown. This re-naming, along with some of her early comments to Frank, show us that she is painfully uninformed and passionately hungry for knowledge, and eager to reinvent herself. She can feels this will give her access to a world where she will be able to find greater meaning in her life.

She’s married and wants to “find herself” before beginning to have children, but her quest for knowledge is also a yearning for transformation and meaning. She hides her insecurity and her ignorance behind a brash façade of bravado.

Eventually Rita (who goes back to being Susan with everyone but Frank) becomes successful within the world of academia. She separates from her husband, quits her job as a hair-dresser, tries to change her accent and makes friends with some of the students on campus. She feels her transformation is complete – and because she associates Frank with her rough beginnings, she distances herself from him, and largely comes to conform to a somewhat stereotypical version of an academic intellectual.

In the end, after Frank nearly drinks himself out of his University job, Rita returns, having found a balance between the brash, naïve person she was and the intellectual she wished to become.

Into the world link

An exploration through a variety of texts that deal with ‘aspects of growing up and transitions into new phases of an individual’s life’.

You should talk about the transition from one world to another, using Educating Rita and other text to demonstrate your points.

Good responses will focus on the transition and the techniques used by the authors/composers to create meaning and image for the audience/responder....
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