In this essay I will try to explain the characters of Rita and Frank and how they develop throughout the play. I will also be analyzing their relationship and what they learn from each other. Educating Rita is a two-handler play about a woman in her late twenties who is from a working class background. She decides that she wants to better herself and so enrolls on an Open University course. This is how she meets Frank, her tutor.
Frank is a middle aged and well educated and from a middle class background.He has a failed career as a poet and a failed marriage behind him and has turned to drink as away to block out the questions he needs to answer about himself . Rita is at the other end of the scale. She has asked all the questions about herself and realizes she is not happy with her prospects and lifestyle as it stands and is prepared to make the necessary changes to improve herself. The dramatic irony of the whole play is that Rita goes to Frank to become educated .
She wants the education he can offer her but, what he doesn’t realize, is the value she holds for him.Her fresh thinking, vitality and spirit awakens something which has layer dormant in him for a long time. This is the need to question him in order to not just exist, but to start living again.
Rita starts out as somebody who is very insecure and uses her whit and her quick tongue to hide her inhibitions and unhappiness. As the play develops you begin to understand her make-up and how the lifestyle she see’s around her leads her to want more. In scene 1 when she is in the office, she finds it hard to sit still. She is eager and excited to learn.Her eyes are everywhere trying take upon the culture that she yearns to be a part of.
She is a “doer” . She talks tirelessly skipping from one subject to another. Her chattiness masks her insecurity.
Even though at the beginning of the play she is only a hairdresser, it shows her will to want to further her potential. Many women within her culture may work in factories or become house wives and mothers however, Rita has more to offer a skill in fact. This shows her determination early on to better herself. Once she had achieved her hairdressing skills, she realized that this would not be enough.When talking about her thought s through life she explains how she always questioned what she really wanted but put it to the back of her mind “I mean there was always something tapping away tellin me I might have got it wrong” Rita has observed her lifestyle around her and is only to aware of the drudgery that exist and how little the people around her actually achieve. “By us there is no meaning’ to life.
.. I just see everyone pissed or on the valium, trying to get from one day to the next. ” Rita can see how unhappy her mother is when she is sitting in the pub one evening, singing songs from the juke box.She turn’s to her side only to see her mother crying and so asks her mother why she is upset. “There must be a better song to sing than this” reply’s her mother. Rita considers this and realizes how symbolic this is for her song is her life and she wants a better one.
Prior to going and meeting her family in the pub she had been invited to Frank’s dinner party. On arrival, after watching the people from outside, Rita turned back as she realized she could not socialize with people like this. After going to the pub she realized she had the same problem there.She understands that at that point in time she does not fit in anywhere she does not feel comfortable in either environment or feels in-between the two.
“I can’t talk to people I live with anymore. An’ I can’t talk to the likes of them on Saturday”, i. e. Franks dinner guests “Because I can’t learn the language I’m a half-caste. ” Rita wants an education but not for it’s fantastic career prospects although this would be a bonus. She looks around her and realizes she doesn’t want the things that average working class women like her mum and sister want i.
e. t pregnant ,get married and spend your time socializing in pubs.She wants to find out what she is capable of “It may sound selfish but all I want for the time being is what I’m finding inside me” The hardest part of Rita’s transition is when she realizes that she has to either stop her course or leave her husband. She has already made the decision not to have children as you see in scene? This decision has been made without consulting her husband who thinks she has stopped taking the pill six months ago. Her husband finds the pills and in a rage troughs all her books onto the bonfire.He is blaming the books for her defiance and makes it blatantly clear it is either the study or him. Rita realizes how much she is hurting him and that it is as unfair to him for her to stay because she is not the woman he married), as it is for her (because she is not getting the support she deserves for wanting more for herself).
“I would have had to become different from my mates and that’s not allowed. ” “By whom” “By your mates, by your family, by everyone” I think this really shows her strength of character. She understands the sacrifices that are going to have to be made and sees it through with her will and determination.By act 2 Rita has transformed greatly. In comparison to part 1 her speech is now much more appropriate to that of a student. Her swearing has been curbed and her ability to hold an intellectual conversation is evident, ‘Well any analogy will break down eventually. ‘ Rita has started mixing with the students and is now quite comfortable with the debates and she is even asked to go away with a group of students. Rita feels energized and full of life, and decides to move in with a flat mate called Trish just before she goes to summer school.
She sees her flat mate as a role model of the type of person she would like to be. ‘She great y know she dead dassy, y know like she’s got taste, y know like you Frank, she’s just got it. ‘ By this I think Rita is referring to her to her obvious class state in society i.
e. middle class. This is ‘I feel young u know, like them down there’ how she looks upon her self. Unfortunately she finds out as Frank explains to her, that stories her tragedies and there was a price to pay when Trish tries to kill herself. You start to feel her sense of completeness. ‘I’ve got a room full of books.I know what clothes to wear, what wine to buy, what pays to see, what papers and books to read’.
Her job has now changed as well. She has finished hairdressing, and is now working in a Bistro. I think the hairdressing is her last tie to be cut from her previous existence. Her past times have also changed as she has started visiting theatres instead of pubs and her whole circle of friends has become students. Frank is a middle ages man from a middle class background.
Once a happy married man enjoyed writing poetry he is now an alcoholic reduced to teaching Open University as a way of finding his habit.He is in a relationship with an ex student who felt sorry for him, she is just on the verge of leaving him for someone who will put her before the drink. When asked by Rita about his relationship he replies ‘I like her enormously, it’s my self imp not to fond of,’ this once again shows his despondency because he is not prepared to make any changes even after admitting this. In the first act you find Rita struggling with the door handle trying to get into Frank’ study. He has kept it like this for a reason I think, as a sign.This is the security of being closed from the outside world as is the windows shut as being referred to later.
This is ironic because Rita is like the one who is if u wants rescuing him, and is fixing his door handle, opening his windows making him become part of society again; Rita makes him sort out his drinking problem. This gives the audience the feeling of how shut off he really feels. He has no confidence and certainly does not inspire it, ‘You see the great thing about the booze is it makes one believe that under all the talk one is actually saying something’.
‘I know absolutely nothing’ ‘I am actually an appalling teaching’.Rita and Frank have a number of similarities; they are both dissatisfied with their lives, although Frank does not seem interested in doing anything about it. They are both witty people and both have things to learn from each other. Maybe Rita feels she could possibly make Frank take action against his drinking as she has grown up, with people who hide behind bottles of alcohol. ‘You’ve not been drinking have y? ‘ ‘No’ ‘Is that’s because of me because of what I said last week? ‘ this shows the audience her innocent childlike qualities. Although Frank is unsure of teaching Rita due to his lack of confidence, she feels at ease with him.
I think this is because she sees his flaws and this makes her feel comfortable around him. Although he is middle class he is an alcoholic and I am sure Rita has grown up with many if his kind and I would think he would give her a sense of equality as it has been something she has been able to experience. ‘Why come to me? ‘ ‘Because you’re a crazy piss artist who want’s to throw his students out of the window an’ I like you’ Frank warns to Rita quickly, her high spirits and warm bubbliness as well as her nai?? ve answers to his questions are like a breath of fresh air to him.
An example is when he asks her what she thinks of Howards end. ‘ She replies ‘it was crap! ‘ Frank is warming to Rita and sends hints of physical attraction through some other familiar comments. ‘ Right there are thousands of things I would rather do than teach, most of them with you young lady’, as the play carries on you start to realize how Frank starts to depend on Rita and shows jealousy when Rita shows an interest in a students called “Tyson”, he responds with a childlike comment. ‘Perhaps u don’t want to waste your time coming here anymore? ‘ The roles are revising now as Rita has shed her innocence and has become worldly.Frank on the other hand seems to be throwing tantrums and saying spiteful things in a bid to gain some control again. Frank’s reference to Frankenstein’s monster is a due to of loosing his powers over Rita, just like when Victor looses control over the monster he had created. This also suggests that up till now, he had been able to mould, and pull Rita’s strings at any time.
I think Frank is disillusioning him self as to how the relationship really works. Although he is in a mentor, as far as studding goes, Rita is very much planting her own seeds of change into her head.She is forcing him to question his lifestyle and motives. After being blessed with such a good beginning in his life, maybe he is just wrong to throw it away. ‘oh it’s little to you, isn’t it? It’s little to you who squanders every opportunity and mocks and takes it all for granted’ Throughout the play you see Rita’s character improve. She has achieved everything she has set out to do. She had transformed from a caterpillar, to a butterfly. She feels pleased and proud about her character and with the achievements she has worked so hard for, she now has positive choices to make in her life and has a new future ahead of her.
Frank on the other hand had deteriorated through the play. At the beginning, although he is an alcoholic he is tolerable. As he starts to loose his control over Rita, his drinking becomes heavier. He becomes verbally abusive to Rita. It’s like he has pushed a self destruct button and he wants to destroy the last bit of good in his life.
Just like Victor Frankenstein chooses to reject society when he has so much going for him and he had created this monster, just like Frank if u like created Rita, and the “monsters” had taken control and become greater than their masters.At the beginning Rita is totally dependant on Frank. He has the experience to show Rita how to write an essay, and the tutorials are the only thing Rita can look forward to in her mundane life. ‘The only thing I value is here, comin here once a week. ‘ Then Rita visits summer school. She has a break from Frank and joins in study groups and is taught by other teachers. She returns to eager with her new knowledge and has a new found confidence.
I feel this is the climax of the film and the tables start to turn. He has decided to teach her about Blalce unknown to him this is what she has studied in summer school.He starts reading her a poem which she recites from her heart. My view is that this makes Frank feel has he has served his purpose and Rita no longer need him, she is now independent. Rita buys him a pen which is engraved ‘must only be used for poetry by strictest order.
‘ By this Rita is giving him a hint to try and make Frank write again and do something with his life. Rita tells Frank she wants her tutorial on the grass. He is beginning to lack direction from her and although he argues with her it is obvious he is weakening. When Rita switches jobs, she does not tell Frank.He finds out and hurt by the fact she hasn’t mentioned it to him. This again suggests he has stronger feelings for Rita than he should have.
He is growing possessive. An obvious movement is when makes a number of comments on Franks drinking and suggests he should stop. ‘Yes. But Rita – if I repent and reform, what do I do when your influence is no longer here? What do I do when in appalling sobriety, I watch you walk away and disappear, my influence gone forever? ‘ Rita gives Frank a haircut at the end of the film. This is a turning point for Frank.He is going to Australia to get him self together, and make a fresh start.
He needs to find himself again. His hair cut is like shredding all his hang ups. He asks Rita if she would join him to go Australia but she declines. I think Frank makes it clear he has feeling for Rita, although Rita does not hint she feels the same. We are left with the hope that Frank may reform as he has the opportunity and are left to decide the fate on these characters. I feel this is a nice way to end the play as it allows us to use our own imaginations and picture them maybe meeting up again and who know?But we also understand that life doesn’t always work out for the best and maybe the fairytale ending wasn’t to be.
This play gives us a good insight how ‘class’ society can allow you to be restricted if you let it. Some people have to work hard to achieve what they want in life and as long as they can stay focused on their goals they can achieve. Them others are born with a silver spoon in their mouths and already have it all. But in having everything and become lost with themselves, the grass is not always greener on the other side.