Educating Rita

A play in which there is an important relationship is ???Educating Rita??? by Willy Russell. I am going to show how this relationship is important to the play as a whole. The play takes place in the confines of Frank??™s, Rita??™s English tutor at the O.U (Open University), office over an unspecified period of time. Rita, who is 26 years old and is a part of the working class, although she believes she is in the middle ???… I??™m a half -caste…??? she is unhappy with the direction in which her life is going and wants that to change. She wants a better life (… we could be singing better songs than this…) she wants to be a ???somebody??? and she wants to feel like she belongs to ???the educated class???, hence taking the O.U course.
I think Willy Russell may have depicted his own ambitions as he was much like Rita in that he came from a working class background from Liverpool. Perhaps he wished he could have had the same guidance as he shows Rita gets.
The relationship starts in Act 1, Scene 1, when we are first introduced to Frank, then Rita. Frank who is drunk ???… we should recognise the voice of a man who shifts a lot of booze??? is on the phone when Rita knocks on his door. Rita enters and immediately starts to talk, before Frank can even say hello ???I??™m comin??™ in, aren??™t I It??™s that stupid bleedin??™ handle on the door. You wanna get it fixed!???, Rita is very talkative ???… I talk too much don??™t I… I talk a lot when I??™m nervous???, Rita knows her flaws, but Frank doesn??™t see them as flaws, he is shocked by Rita, but doesn??™t believe talking too much is her flaw ???… you??™re the first breath of fresh air that been in this room for years.??? Frank likes Rita but doesn??™t show it much. The door handle seems to be symbolic of the barrier between her and the choices she believes she feels she deserves by becoming educated. This is interesting as later on in the play she oils the handle which is again symbolic of her beginning to find her way past the barrier and also shows how her relationship with Frank has developed as she becomes more educated.
Frank and Rita are culturally different, which is noticeable when Frank makes a reference to literature ???do you know Yates??? with which Rita replies ???the wine lodge??? Despite these differences, in Act 1, we see them developing a friendship beyond a student-teacher relationship. She seeks comfort and security in Frank from her difficulties with her husband, Denny, who resents her studying ???Denny gets dead narked if I work at home.???
Rita desperately wants to be a ???proper student??? which can be seen when she looks out the window and says ??? I love that lawn down there, when it??™s summer do they sit on it???
In Act 2 we see a change in Rita and subsequently a change in their relationship. We see Rita becoming more educated and pulling away from Frank who she starts to need less. She is late for a lesson one day as she has been talking to the students on the lawn. This suggests she sees herself more like them and needs less guidance from Frank. Frank does not like this as can be seen when he says sarcastically ???I??™ve done a fine job on you haven??™t I???
They have a big argument were Frank points out many of Rita??™s flaws ???Found a better song to sing have you No ??“you??™ve found a different song that??™s all ??“ and on your lips it??™s shrill and hollow and tuneless???. Rita responds to Franks insults by saying ???you like to keep your natives thick, because they still look charming and delightful. I don??™t need you???. This upsets Frank and he drowns his sorrows in alcohol.
However despite the change in their relationship they still care about each other and they apologise for arguing. They have both gained something from each other. Frank has given Rita independence as can be seen when Rita passes her exam and in doing so realises she has choices ???I had a choice. I did the exam??? ???I??™ll make a decision, I??™ll choose ??? ??? I??™ll chose me???. Rita has helped Frank change for the better.
In conclusion the interesting feature of this play is that initially Rita and Frank have a relationship based on a mutual need. At the end of the play we see their relationship based on friendship and trust this is shown when Frank lets Rita cut his hair in return for her education which he would not let her do at the beginning of the play. The whole Play was enhanced by having Frank??™s office as the only setting because this adds an intimacy and helps us to focus on just the relationship between Rita and Frank. The subject of the play is their relationship and the changes that this goes through by Rita becoming educated.