Essay about Educating Rita by Willy Russell

3396 Words 14 Pages
Educating Rita by Willy Russell

"Educating Rita" displays the major changes that occur in the main character, an initially narrow minded, outspoken and socially naïve
Liverpudlian trapped by her working class life. Rita thinks an increase in intelligence and worldly knowledge will change this, and set her "free". She strives to change classes, and although is different from her working class peers, she still isn't ready to be accepted as middle class. She aims to reach her goal through an Open
University course, yet naively thinks knowing what books to read and clothes to wear will allow her to immediately become accepted as part of her chosen social strata. Change is a major part of the play, affecting Rita in both positive
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She is also confused by Frank's formal manner of speaking, showing her social naivety. For instance, when he says, "You are?" she replies, "What am
I?" Although she appears very confidently, she is immediately quietened when faced with something she feels she cannot succeed in.
She is fairly defeatist towards the course, believing she isn't intelligent enough, and that although she wants to, she wont achieve her dream. She calls the courses, "Degrees for Dishwashers", implying that Open University degrees are not looked upon very highly, and are not thought much of. She is very negative about herself, believing she is not quite good enough. Rita wants to be of a higher status than her friends and family, and assumes the course will bring about this transformation. She is uncomfortable with being working class, as her outlook is more middle class, yet also isn't ready to be considered middle class. She knows that she fits in with neither social grouping, and at one stage, even refers to herself as a "half-caste". She naïvely thinks that knowing what books to read and phrases to say will automatically be happy and free, as if intelligence is the key to the lock of her cage. She believes all who are referred to as middle class have no problems, or worries, and are therefore "free". Similarly, she tells Frank that she wants to know "everything", not understanding that this is completely impossible. She believes her image is sophisticated; yet her
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