Throughout the play, the relationship between Frank and Rita adjusts a lot. They grow close and then grow apart as Rita learns more and changes into a new person, but at the end of the play, their relationship gets rebuilt and almost goes back to normal. At the beginning of Educating Rita, the audience sees that Rita is a very open person and Frank is very restrained. Frank feels uncomfortable around her because he is not used to her forward character.He tries making excuses to not teach her, ‘there are other tutors – I’ve told you’ but Rita insists that he carries on teaching her, she likes him and earlier in the scene she says ‘If I’d got some other tutor I wouldn’t have stayed.
‘ She is chatty and happily tells Frank about her life and why she wants to gain an education. He remains closed up but reluctantly tells her about himself when she questions him. He doesn’t really take interest in Rita’s life; she talks about what is happening in her life, which is so different to Frank’s.Rita wants the qualities that Frank has, but he is unenthusiastic towards things because he is bored with his life. He takes Rita, who is so different to most people he has met for granted. Frank doesn’t take an interest in Rita’s life mainly because when he is trying to teach, she changes the subject. She has come to the Open University to gain an education and ‘find herself’. But when Frank tries to teach her, she puts it off and this makes him lose him temper.
She wants to be able to do what she wants and have choices, rather than being like everyone else in her class who are stuck where they are and aren’t happy with where they are, but they can’t move on, ‘There’s like this sort of disease, but no one mentions it; everyone behaves as though it’s normal. ‘ Disputes start between Rita and Denny and he burns Rita’s books. Frank feels responsible for the arguments because they are about her going to the Open University, as well as her being on the pill.When Frank finds out what has happened Rita tries to get onto the subject of education by saying that she will buy Frank more books but he replies with ‘I wasn’t referring to the books.
Sod the books. ‘ Frank undoubtedly cares for Rita and is worried about her. Also in the same scene, he hints that maybe he thinks more of Rita than just a student, ‘Perhaps, perhaps your husband thinks you’re having an affair with me. ‘ The feelings that Frank feels for Rita have gone from finding her an irritation to having stronger feelings for Rita, maybe even love.It is obvious that Rita doesn’t feel like this though because she answers him with ‘Oh go way. You’re me teacher.
I’ve told him. ‘ When Rita goes to the real theatre for the first time, she runs to tell Frank, which shows that she also values the friendship that they have. Before Frank may have been uninterested in what she does but Rita ‘just wanted to tell someone who’d understand’ which shows that she is excelling and learning, as well as Frank becoming more understanding of Rita because his life is becoming more like hers under her influence and is also learning from her because he sees things in a way he never did before.He says ‘I’m honoured that you chose me,’ which suggests that he is proud of the change in her which at the moment he is mostly responsible of. Frank also invites Rita to dinner, to meet Julia and his other friends. Their relationship has reached the stage where Frank feels as if Rita should meet Julia and him meet Denny. Before Frank was a closed up person and didn’t want Rita to know much about his personal life – this is a big change in Frank. When Rita doesn’t turn up to the dinner party, Frank doesn’t understand why she didn’t come although Frank thinks that he knows Rita.
Here it is obvious that he doesn’t understand her as well as he thinks. He likes the way Rita is at the moment and doesn’t want her to change; he thinks that she has something valuable, this is what started their relationship in the first place – Rita was different to the other students and he was drawn to her. Denny also leaves her and once again Frank is there for her, he still feels the burden of guilt because Denny had said to Rita ‘either I stop comin’ here and come off the pill of I could get out altogether.The fact that Rita is determined to stay on the course and carry on finding herself also shows the devotion she has towards Frank. As I said before, Frank likes the way Rita is at the moment and doesn’t want her to change; this is reflected in her essays. What she is producing isn’t good and she wants to change – Frank says ‘But I don’t know if I want to tell you, Rita .
.. What you have already is valuable. ‘ Frank is scared about losing her, he knows that he has to power to change her and he doesn’t want to do it. Rita doesn’t see that what she has is valuable; she thinks that she is boring and has nothing.Rita thinks that all the answers will come with an education. Their relationship doesn’t alter in this scene – it just shows the misunderstanding and complications in relationships, you may not know someone or understand them fully when you have different backgrounds. When Rita returns from summer school, she has reformed greatly, with more knowledge and seems to have found her place.
Frank is jealous of this reform, he wanted to be the one who taught her and when she already knows about Blake, the poet, her gain of knowledge is obvious.Whereas before she would have put off the idea of learning, she knows his poems by heart and says when he asked her if she had learnt everything about him, ‘Of course; you don’t do Blake without doing innocence and experience do ya? ‘ Rita is starting to have more people involved in her life, she feels as if she belongs to the class where she wants to be, she is achieving things and she is happier than ever. She has moved in with her new flat mate, Trish who is a big influence on her and is mixing with the students, who she previously thought them to be above her social status.Frank’s life however is deteriorating due to Julia leaving him and his drink addict becoming a problem again – and this is causing arguments between the two. He is jealous of what she is gaining and doesn’t want her to change. He is anxious about losing her because at the moment she is the excitement in his life.
Rita hadn’t told Frank about moving in with Trish or having a new job in a bistro, which is regarded as a higher status than hairdressing and Frank feels betrayed, ‘It struck me that there was a time when you told me everything. Then he didn’t really appreciate the fact that Rita told him everything that happened in her life, he took her presence for granted and now he misses it. His behaviour is turning into Denny’s; controlling and as Rita says before, ‘It’s like drug addicts, isn’t it? They hate it when one of them tries to break away.
‘ By Frank trying to control Rita, it is making her rebel further and he is losing her through his own actions. They are becoming distant at this point, due to many reasons and they seem to lose the connection that they had before.The ability to be able to speak to each other about anything seems to have gone. Although Frank still has strong feelings for Rita, it is as if she doesn’t have the time for him. All the way through the play Rita thought that by gaining an education she would know everything, her life would be so much better and her choices plentiful. Although this is true to an extent, she learns that this is not wholly true when she finds out that Trish attempted to commit suicide. It is then she realises that education isn’t everything, you can never have everything and personality is important too.
Her and Frank’s relationship builds up again at this point. She gets her personality back and realises that she doesn’t know everything, as she thought she did in the middle on the play. She learnt that you need a balance of education and knowledge as well as opinion and character. The last scene shows the audience that the old Rita is still there, although she passes the exam she says, ‘Yeh. An’ it might be worthless in the end. But I had a choice. I chose me. ‘ She thought that by having an education it would bring her something amazing, but it didn’t.
The old Rita still there but she is not the same person as she was when she first walked into Frank’s office, she has gained a different type of knowledge – and she learnt that she already had knowledge before she started coming to the Open University. In my opinion, I think that they did become distant for a while during the play, but this was caused by many things: the clingy and controlling attitude which Frank had towards Rita; the change that Rita encountered, she learnt how to make decisions for herself and look at things from her own point of view.The new people she met also contributed to their distance. Although they became absent of each other’s presence and they were reunited at the end of the play.
Every relationship goes through the same stages, sometimes fixing the differences but sometimes things are never the same. Here however they realise how much they mean to each other when they spend so much time apart.