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Educating Rita’ is set in Liverpool during the 1980’s whilst the Conservatives were in power. There was high unemployment as many mines were closing down and large scale strikes were occurring across the country, consequently because of the strikes life was hard for all who lived in England in particular those of the working class. Many left school at sixteen, especially women, and had children very young, this was classed as the normal thing to do. Educating Rita is a two hander play because it contains only two main characters Rita and frank who both work like mouthpieces to express the views of their classes. The play itself has a semi autobiographical element to it because Rita has many of the same life experiences as the playwright Willy Russell, since both Russell and Rita at one point in their lives were hairdressers this shows us that Russell uses Rita much like a mouthpiece to convey his life experiences to the audience. Being the playscript Russell is part of the dramatic triangle; he must try and convey his messages to the audience through the actors in the play by using such devices as metaphors which provide a deeper meaning to the play. Educating Rita very much links to Pygmalion the play written by George Bernard Shaw in 1912, for example, both Rita and Eliza are taken on a journey through a different world and change to become better women in different ways. Throughout the play Rita is undergoing a metamorphosis which is transforming her overall into a better person; however this is not always true as she has some drastic and unpleasant changes throughout her journey. Rita is one of thousands who have been accepted by the Open University to be given a better chance in life by providing her with a further education. It was opened in 1969 to allow others just like Rita have a second chance at their education; it was unlike the normal university courses as it meant the students had to learn at home and report to their lecturer once a week to show their progress, Frank was chosen to be Rita’s lecturer and Rita was to be his first Open University Student. At the opening of the play Rita has little education; this is because of her working class background and the restrictions it has imposed on her. As a working class child Rita was at a disadvantage to an upper

You wanna get it fixed”. this is shown throughout the play as both the characters begin to open up and the contrasts in personality and class are revealed. tellin me I might have got it all wrong. This is shown to the audience by a metaphor Russell uses when Rita first meets Frank. Rita eventually agreed with this and blocked the thoughts of self improvement from herself. Rita’s lifestyle at the beginning of the play completely contrasts Franks middle class lifestyle. he uses the door to Franks study to show how hard it was for Rita to access the educational world by the enormous amount of effort she has to give to open the door. children who attended the secondary modern schools like Rita would have a limited education and most likely never have the chance to continue on an educational path to university.B. as Rita explains most working class children did not want to confront their education because of social pressures or the thought of failure. Rita finds it so hard to open her mind to the educational world.Ledger Page |2 classed child because they would have access to a better education at technical high schools. an’ that’s not allowed” Whenever Rita tried to improve academically someone always stopped her because she was always expected to carry on the same as her friends. It wasn’t expected of working class children to get good grades and go on achieving academically in life. tappin’ away. This is highly symbolic for Rita as the door can also be thought of being the door of choice where Rita must decide between educational freedom where she can be free of cultural restrictions or her old life of denial: “It’s that stupid bleedin handle on the door. Rita is involved in a marriage with Denny an average . But id just play another record or buy another dress” This is one of the main reasons that Rita is so hungry for education in the opening scenes of the play because she has been deprived of it for such a long time. most preferred to grow up in the image of their parents because they believed that there was expectations they had to achieve: “Studyin’ was just for wimps. she trapped herself mentally in a working class prison and couldn’t escape from the torment that something was missing from her life: “In me head. this is because she is not used to accessing that part of her brain that has been blocked off from her and she hopes that frank can reopen it. wasn’t it” and “I would have had to become different from me mates.

she believes that to achieve this she had to be accepted which consequently created a desire to reach the lawn. However Rita is secretly taking the pill because she does not want to have a baby until she has discovered herself: “I’ve begun to find me – an’ its great y know “ Frank found Rita’s personality uplifting when she began her education because he believed that Rita was unique.B. the most obvious is the way Rita no longer quotes her own opinions and prefers to use the opinions of Trish instead. Trish. This is because Rita has been longing to become an average everyday student and often expresses’ this obsession to Frank. Another new influence in Rita’s life is Tyson an average university student who shares his values and experiences with Rita.Ledger Page |3 working class man who is pressuring her along with her family and friends to have a baby and settle down. Trish becomes Rita’s main influence in life and Rita begins to act and talk like Trish because she deludes herself into thinking that it will improve her social status: “She’s great. I started talking to some students down on the lawn” . He frequently comments on Rita’s view on life: “I think you’re the first breath of air that’s been in this room for years “ As Rita develops she has many more influences in her life such as. her flatmate who Rita believes is from a higher class because of the way she talks and dresses. this is a key event as it starts a chain reaction that causes Rita’s metamorphosis to go wrong. Trish is the first to introduce Rita into the upper class world and she starts to teach Rita the believed rules of being upper class such as speech and pronunciation. this is a symbol for Rita and acts as a goal for Rita to aspire to for all she wants is to be accepted as a normal Student just like those on the lawn: “I got here early today. Y’know she’s dead classy” This is shown to the audience in many ways. this was because he was only used to dealing with the normal university students personality’s many of which he despises. this is because it is what was expected of a working class woman. Tyson eventually accepts Rita into his social group.

what papers and books to read” This shows the audience that Rita believes that there are set rules for being middle class and that she has to abide by them to reach the higher classes this is the main reason for Rita splitting up with her husband Denny because they were starting to become too different as people and Rita started to have aspirations in her life which of course changed for the worse over time. Russell uses this metaphor to describe what Rita has changed into.B. she believes that she has surpassed Frank and his knowledge but has not realised that she has only acquired a modicum of education. Mary Shelly is used .Ledger Page |4 As Rita’s metamorphosis continues Frank begins to realise that her uniqueness is disappearing and her personality is draining and becoming dull and dried up just as his normal everyday students personalities are. The different classes and their meaning’s is the main point Russell is trying to convey to the audience in the play he achieves this through Rita’s experiences while trying to become a well educated person and how it goes wrong as she starts to worry more about herself on the outside than the inside “I know what clothes to wear. But because of Rita’s longing to be a normal academic student and produce work of the same quality she is blinded by these changes. This upsets Frank because he wants the bold self expressing Rita back and because of his deep feeling for Rita he bursts out at her which consequently causes Rita to start shouting at frank. Frank does not agree with this and thinks Rita would achieve so much more as her unique self rather than a dull academic student. what wine to buy. Although Educating Rita is seen as a two hander play. As Rita gets closer and closer to her examinations the belief that she has reached a higher class increases more and more. in this scene there is not only these two individuals on stage but two opposing classes the working class and the middle class. Just as in Pygmalion. what plays to see. It begins to become a clash of cultures the working class against the middle class as she believes that frank is trying to repress her from her education just like the higher classes are trying to repress the working class from a better life. Frank just like Mary Shelly realises he has created a monster and also that he’s lost control over it. but this is untrue because her metamorphosis has only changed her academic life rather than her social life and she still remains in the working class but has just become an educated working class women. As the play continues we realise that frank is worried about Rita and her perception on life and tries to show Rita her misguided perceptions before she drifts too far apart. Rita begins to be drawn apart from frank and starts to believe she has learnt all that she needs to pass her exams.

although she may have not improved socially she has gained her new academic abilities which means she can now move on to a better life and improve overall.B. However. Rita’s life had improved because she has gained a valuable education. he also believes that it is his fault because he started her journey along the path of education meaning that he is Frankenstein. Frank commented in such a way because he believes that Rita has completely changed. During the closing scenes of the play Rita visits Frank one last time to explain what happened during her examination. this has greatly changed from earlier Britain where women were not seen as equal and could not improve greatly in their daily jobs. this is the main thing that Rita wanted to gain from her education.Ledger Page |5 because she was the author and creator of the legendary monster in her novel Frankenstein and Frank believes he has created a monster because of way Rita has been acting: “I shall insist upon being known as Mary. Overall. Her education has provided her with another key element of life. Women like Rita today have a better life because they have a greater chance of succeeding and now have a real chance to go to university and achieve the academic requirements they need to improve in life.so you understand that allusion Rita”. there are still many cases of women being pressured to have children all around the world and this pressure will not subside too hastily. choice. this is a key moment in the play because Rita’s eyes have been opened and she is able to observe the fool she has become. Rita can now choose to do what she wants and cannot be held back from making these choices any longer. She tells Frank how she realised she had been misguided and had turned into a fool by thinking that she could improve her class by the way she talked or by entering a new social group. . In the workplace today women are seen as equal to men and can now achieve the same or even more than men in their careers. Mary Shelley.