Educating Rita Analysis
Quotation • ‘I am comin’ in aren’t I? It’s that stupid bleeding handle on the door. Y’wanna get it fixed!’
Analysis • Rita introduced as a forthright and crass individual. • Continued rapping on the door shown in the stage directions and Rita’s struggle to get through the door is symbolic of the character’s difficulty to access both education opportunities and opportunities of personal progression in life. • It also symbolises the way that she bursts into Frank’s life and changes it entirely.
Continued • This foreshadows the difficulties that Rita will experience during her transition from being uneducated to educated and the metamorphosis that takes place regarded her own cultural self. Russell also highlights the main themes of freedom and choice to the audience in the first Scene – Rita chooses to fight adversity in order to gain what she now desires in life.
‘But I don’t want to be myself. Me? What’s me? Some stupid woman who gives us all a laugh because she thinks she can learn...’ ‘I don’t want to be myself.’ This is a problem that leads Rita to the fake change before the final scene when she has finally found herself AND her education.
Quotation • “But if you wanna change y’have to do it from the inside, don’t y’?
Quotation • ‘I’ve been realisin’ for ages that I was...slightly out of step.’
Analysis Russell shows the audience that Rita is not only changing – she is going to partake in a complete metamorphosis. This will leave her bereft of her old culture. Rita realises that change is superficial unless there is strength and conviction to aid the process. Her strength is revealed as the character addresses her own inner conflict: the clash of her old identity and the one which she wants to adopt.
Quotation • ‘But I don’t want to be myself. Me? What’s me? Some stupid woman who gives us all a laugh because she thinks she can learn...’
Analysis • Rita’s derogatory comments about herself show that she considers herself alien to both worlds.
"I can't talk to the people I live with anymore. An' I can't talk to the likes of them [the academic crowd], because I can't learn the language. I'm a half-caste."
Rita is saying that she doesn’t fit in with the people she grew up with anymore but she also doesn’t feel she has learned enough about literature to speak with the academic people at the university. This was written in the 80s, so the expression ‘half-caste’ was an accepted term to mean someone with mixed race. Rita felt that just as a person who is mixed race might not feel that they belong fully to either background and feel torn between cultures and religions, so too does Rita feel like an outsider from both the working class culture and the academics because in trying to be educated but remain married to Denny, she is not able to embrace either world completely.
Quotation • ‘I said ‘Why are y’ cryin’, Mother?’ She said, ‘Because – because we could sing better songs than those.’
Rita’s mother is crying because they are singing the same old songs that they always do. She makes the comparison that just as they are singing old songs and therefore not embracing new music, so too are they living the same lives over and over, doomed to repeat the lives of generations before them: lives dedicated to work and family, without a focus on education. She realises that there are more experiences on offer that would be ‘better’ for her family and laments that their lives could improve if only they’d open their minds to education and new experiences.
Analysis • The playwright conveys to the audience the desire of many to have a better life. Russell uses symbolism to portray that Rita’s mother thinks they should make more of their life and escape what Rita calls the ‘boring’ and ‘irrelevant’ life that Rita despises. Rita chooses to free herself from her old constraints and forge a new identity for herself.
Quotation • ‘We did him at summer school.’
Analysis • Russell continues to develop the themes of freedom and choice as Rita continues on the journey to educational success and personal fulfilment. Russell shows that Rita is gaining in confidence through his use of characterisation. Rita no longer relies on Frank and has the courage and conviction to form her own opinions regarding literature .
Continued • This leads to minor conflict between the characters of Rita and Frank as Frank feels abandoned by Rita which contributes to his own identity crisis and self-doubt. Although Frank is academically brilliant, his personal life could be regarded as abysmal. Although Rita relied on Frank for an education, It can be witnessed that he still needed her.
Continued • This incident conveys the power shift that begins to occur between the two characters. Frank’s symbolic burning of his poetry shows how worthless he thinks it is. He does not believe it has any merit nor worth, thus showing his own instability and that he still needs Rita while she is moving away from him.
Quotation • ‘...from now on I shall insist on being known as Mary, Mary Shelley’
Analysis • Frank calls himself ‘Mary Shelley’. This is significant as the author created ‘Frankenstein’, thus showing that Frank believes he has created a monster.
Quotation • ‘Found a culture, have you Rita? Found a better song to sing, have you?
Analysis Frank’s dialogue with Rita is heated as he reveals that her cultural transition has made her superficial. Rita now possesses an individual agency. However, Frank thinks the attention Rita has placed upon her cultural metamorphosis is misplaces as he defines it as ‘shrill’ and ‘hollow.’ The word choice implies that Frank does not believe that Rita has truly obtained a culture as she is no longer true to herself.
Quotation • ‘All I’ve ever done is take from you. I’ve never given anything.’
Analysis In the closing scene of the play, Russell conveys that the characters are now equal. There is an underlying sexual tension in the scene and the playwright shows that Rita’s transformation from uneducated to educated is now complete. It is significant that Rita offers Frank a haircut as this shows that the character is comfortable with her cultural change and identity as she has rejected the superficial and shallow one she previously believed was ‘cultured’.