Educating Rita


Educating Rita is a play about change.
To what extent is this true?

Educating Rita, written by Willy Russell, is a play about Rita, a working class hairdresser who yearns for a change in her life and to be better educated; also it is about a dissipated literature professor who tutors Rita to earn some extra money.
Many of the changes in the play occur mainly due to the ways Rita and Frank interact and change each other. In ways this play is about many aspects that centralise on choice, culture, priorities and education. There can be many different reader responses to the play and what it is about but I will compare these with authorial intention. From this I will conclude whether this play is mainly about how education changed Rita for the better, and in what ways has it had a negative effect and what has getting to know Rita taught Frank.
At first Rita is uneducated. Her background is the working class, but she wants to change her life for a better way of living. She has the will to learn very hard and she wants to reach her aims. Here we see Frank confronted by Rita whom is a pupil wanting nothing more or less than a total education e.g. Frank asks, "What can I teach you?" and Rita replies, "Everything." Later on she seems to think that she has acquired and learnt everything. "I've got what you got Frank, and you don't like it."
At the beginning he 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 in Act One Scene One showing that what Rita possesses is individuality, "I think you're the first breath of air that's been in this room for years." But to his dismay she comes near to 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 she was 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 the other students. Changing her life Rita leaves her husband who objects to Rita getting an education. One step was that Rita interprets the books more objectively and went to the theatre. 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 of 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 way is she encourages Rita to change her voice, "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 Trishs 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 throughout the play.
She seems a lot more arrogant to a point where she only talks about facts and repeats other people's 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