At the beginning of the play Rita decides to sign up for Open University course. She is bored with her job as a hairdresser and is in an unhappy marriage. Rita feels held back by her local community and believes that the only way to improve her life is through education. To begin with Rita believes that she needs to know “everything”. She tells Frank, her only tutor, that she does not visit the theatre or opera because she does not understand it. She believes that by gaining more knowledge she will become more socially aware. However Rita does not understand different types of literature. She thinks that E. M. Forster’s novel, ‘Howard’s End’ is ‘crap’ and enjoys an old book which shows very few literacy skills ‘Rubyfruit Jungle’.
Rita is tired of being held back by Denny and she wants to go new places in her life. She wants to become more confident in herself. She is fed up and wants her life to change. She is unhappy, and frustrated with her job, relationship and life.
As the play goes on, Rita gradually becomes better educated in literature. She starts to depend on Frank less and does not communicate as much about her private life. For example, she started to share a flat with an educated woman named Trish. Rita changed her job and she started to call herself by her ‘real’ name, Susan. Rita does not tell Frank until later on when he tries to call her work and he is informed that Rita no longer lives there. In Act 2, Rita argued with Frank, she told him she was now grown up, had a room full of books, knew what clothes to wear, what wine to buy and what plays to see. She told him that she no longer needed him and it is sufficient to say they had an argument and informed him that she could do without him now. Rita’s confidence grows throughout the play and she is determined to improve her life even if it means the end of her marriage. She leaves Denny and starts a new life and begins to develop