Educating Rita

Educating Rita : Rita´s Development

When Rita comes in Frank´s office for the first time, she seems to be very self-confident in her extravagant but cheap dress with her modern, colorful hairstyle.
The first impression of her is that she is an outspoken person.
To make a long story short, she doesn´t have the appearance of a proper student. In addition to that, she doesn´t consider it important to introduce herself, so the observer might think that Rita and Frank know each other for a very long time. Swearing is a very often used form of speaking for Rita, similarly to lots of vulgar expressions like the ones she uses about the religious picture in Frank´s office. Rita also makes grammatical mistakes like she uses ´me´ instead of ´my´. All in all she speaks the sociolect of the lower-class. Her outward appearance, her behaviour, the fact that she doesn´t wait with talking until she is asked for and her sociolect allow the conclusion that Rita belongs to the social lower-class. Her self-confidence, her behaviour and her whole appearance show that Rita is a very strong, emancipated character, who dares to express herself.
The following aspects describe Rita´s starting situation: she works as a hairdresser where she has a lot of contact with the customers. Rita lives in a house with her husband Denny, a typical lower-class worker who isn´t very educated. At first, Rita isn´t educated, too, but she wants to learn very much in order to escape from the working-class area and make real decisions about her future.
Denny wants Rita to have a baby, but she wants to discover herself before becoming a mother. Rita´s intention is becoming educated to change from the inside and finally to lead a better life. The motivation of Rita is surprising, because she wants to know everything - in short - she is hungry for education and later for literature and culture.
The starting position as a student are unpromising for Rita, because she has to start from a very low level, but she knows about it and is ready to take the challenge.
Later, Rita tells Frank that she always wanted to go to a boarding school, but she didn´t have the chance. In former times at school, Rita was really eager to learn, but all of her friends considered school as unimportant and boring; they were more interested in buying clothes or having a feller. So, Rita didn´t do anything for school, too. After telling Frank this story, Rita learns how to write an essay right. This means of course objective and non-sentimental. Later, Rita gets convicted to talk about "Howard´s End".
In the next scene, Rita is taught the differences between real literature like "Howard´s End" or "Of Human Bondage" and pulp fiction like "Rubyfruit Jungle" or such other paperbacks. But this doesn´t mean that pulp fiction is bad, you only shouldn´t mention pulp fiction in an essay.
Having read three novels a week shows that Rita is anxious in learning more and more about literature.
After this important step in Rita´s long hard road of education she learns how to write good literary criticism. In contrast to Rita´s learning ambitions stands her husband´s opinion of learning; he doesn´t like Rita studying because he states his opinion that a woman mustn´t be more educated than her husband. For Rita, it´s a hard way of realizing that she is manipulated by Denny. She also sees that her actual choices are narrow and she wants to escape from her social situation with the help of education.
The more and more escalating conflict between Rita and Denny lets Denny burn Rita´s books including the ones Frank has lent her. After telling Frank the whole story of her quarrel with Denny, Rita collects the next important experience in her career as a student of the Open University: she visits a theatre play for the first time in her life.
A few days later Rita bursts unexpectedly in Frank´s office although they haven´t arranged a tutorial that day. She tells Frank that she has seen "MacBeth" at the theatre the day before. With "MacBeth" as an example, Frank tries to teach Rita the difference between a tragedy and a tragic incident. Rita thinks that everything which is bad like an accident for example is a tragedy. But Frank  destiny. He also
explains to her that a tragedy is something you can´t evade  tells her that tragic characters take their steps that lead to their doom; their character, their surrounding and their ambition bring them to their final doom/destiny.
Before Rita gets back to her work Frank invites her and her husband to a dinner-party in his house.
At the end of another quarrel with Denny, she finally decides to go without him to Frank´s dinner-party. After a long search for Frank´s house, Rita stands in front of it, but she doesn´t go in because she feels ashamed of her appearance and thinks that she only would be laughed at inside. So she decides not to go again to Frank.
Scene 7 is a very central point in Rita´s development because of her identity crisis: the real reason for not coming in Frank´s house has to do with her identity. Rita doesn´t know any more who she is and where she belongs to. In this situation, she thinks that she is a half-caste.
This means that she can´t talk with the people of her home area nor with the people in Frank´s house.
Rita also says that she can´t learn the language, but language doesn´t only mean ´well spoken´ or `using the right words´ or ´not speaking slang or using colloquialisms´, it also means living as an educated person (in Rita´s opinion a person who is able to make choices or in E.M. Forster´s terminology a person who "connects").
So she goes to Denny and her family into the pub where altogether were singing, but later, her mother cries and says that they all could sing better songs.
The deeper meaning of this expression is that her mother wants to come out of the working-class, too.
These words made Rita continue to go to Frank for studying in order to lead a better life than her family does. As Rita said, her family and the whole people of the lower-class perhaps seem to be satisfied with their life but they really aren´t.
When Rita enters Frank´s office once more, she has to hear bad news: Frank tells her that her essay on "MacBeth" is very beautiful in its own way, it has a unique character, but it´s worthless in the exam. The big disappointment in Rita grows to the ambition to learning which is getting stronger and stronger. In this scene, there are many changes like Rita leaving Denny, because he gave her an ultimatum: either Denny and Rita having a baby or Rita continuing studying. So Rita decided to leave Denny in order to continue studying.
She now has many aims to improve herself like wanting to be more rational, more objective, capable of passing the exam and conforming to rules and standards. Furthermore, she wants to be intellectual and she dreams of talking about literature without putting any feeling into it or without really understanding literature like the proper students do. Therefore, Rita goes to the summer school in London. All facts show that Rita tries to change herself more and more to a person like the proper students are and who aren´t liked very much by Frank.
When Rita enters Frank´s office after returning from summer school in London, Frank notices immediately that Rita has changed her outward appearance and her behaviour. The clothes she wears are second-hand clothes which are similar to the clothes which proper students wear. It´s true that she still has a slang in her speaking, but the way she argues and expresses herself when she talks about literature isn´t as it was when she left the last time. Her usage of language is different, too.
And there´s one important change in her behaviour: she doesn´t dump her bag on the desk any more and as a result of this process her shawl is taken by Frank. Rita behaves and is treated more like a lady as before. To sum up, her clothes, her behaviour and the fact that she now talks with proper students build a big disadvantage: Frank doesn´t like her as much as before, he really doesn´t want to teach her any more, because he doesn´t like proper students and Rita has become one of them.
Another aspect why Frank doesn´t like her as much as before is, perhaps, the influence she tries to have on him. Rita reproaches Frank for drinking, what she has never done before. She also tries to make him poetry again. That incures Frank´s displeasure as well as she is already very familiar with "Blake".
The thing Frank has to realize is that there isn´t the little silly woman from the working-class but an educated woman who doesn´t absolutely depend on Frank any more. In addition to all the things which have changed exists the fact that Rita has lost some of her uniqueness and her innocent point of view. In addition to that loss, Rita has grown more and more determined to learn.
Unlike Frank who has his alcohol problem, Rita has given up smoking, because now she really knows how unhealthy it is.
She has developed to a confident, excited and inquisitive person who is full of news which she has to report to Frank.
Besides, Rita lives in a flat together with her flatmate Trish. Trish is Rita´s model in things like lifestyle, living-room styling, views and language.
The English of Rita is now grammatically correct; it is a kind of written English without any trace of dialect or sociolect that she belongs to the working-class. In fact, she speaks a better English than Frank does. Although Frank tries to convince her to speak in the old way, nothing would make her change her mind about that because Trish speaks so, too. Out of Rita´s mouth, her voice sounds peculiar, stilted and snobbish. Rita´s also polite and she doesn´t swear any more.
Other arguments about Rita having become more and more a proper student is the fact that she likes mixing up with proper students now in order to discuss literature, which she didn´t do before going to summer school. She is keen on arguing the way they do to outshine their attitudes and she really enjoys to be superior and to show that superiority. So Rita is developing into a very competent and able student of the Open University who will very likely pass the examination.
In spite of this, Frank treats her like an idiot she was in the beginning. Frank is afraid of losing control of Rita, because she isn´t that stupid but unique woman she was at the beginning.
When Frank and Rita talk about the "Blossom", Rita has interpreted many more attitudes and deeper meanings in cooperation with Trish than Frank has ever thought of.
The next tutorial, Frank gets the news from Rita that she works in a bistro now, because there she could talk about things that really matter with the guests (most of the guests are students). Trish works there, too.
The people who aren´t trapped, who are young and passionate and who know what things do matter are liked very much by Rita.
On the one hand, she still needs Frank, but not so much she needed him in the beginning, on the other hand she can exclude Frank from her personal problems and her private life. Talking with Frank about her background is not so important for her any more. For her, Frank hasn´t such a great importance right now like the exam has. This time, Frank gives her - worried about Rita´s views and interests - a special homework: she has to analyse Frank´s poetry.
After having read Frank´s poems, Rita comes into the tutorial and says that she really likes them; Rita really enthuses about Frank´s poems. But in contrast to that, Frank hates his poetry and throws the papers into the dustbin. Being very surprised about Frank´s reaction, Rita wonders why he acts in such a strange way. As a result of this, Rita thinks that Frank doesn´t like her any more. So she makes it clear to Frank, that she doesn´t need him any further.
Rita has been turned into an expert on literature by Frank, now she is able to analyze literature in a mechanical, orthodox and objective way, but her spontanity, a part of her emotions, her uniqueness in her essays and her being naive surpressed have also been taken away.
Although she now can discuss literature in the established, accepted way, she is no longer directly affected by it, no longer as emotionally involved as she used to be in former times.
The current problem is that Rita doesn´t realize that education means more than copying the lifestyle and opinions of the educated like she does from Trish. Rita does everything Trish tells her.
The conflicts listed above eventually lead to a big quarrel.
Unexpected for Frank, Rita returns to his office one more time after a big step in her life: she has passed the examination very well because she was eager to learn.
Frank is very surprised about Rita returning back to him, because he thought he wouldn´t ever see Rita again.
Finally, Rita has realized that education isn´t all and that educated people don´t have to be right only because of their education.
The last time they met before, Rita was so hungry in education and culture that she didn´t see that some educated people like Trish were just trying to be trendy and that their opinion were empty and hollow.
Another important aspect for Rita´s change is Trish who isn´t her idol any more because she tried to kill herself because she didn´t like her life like it was.
Rita now knows that Frank was right in the quarrel two scenes before and wants to give Frank something back because she thinks that she only has taken from Frank, but she didn´t give him back something.
At last, Rita has the choice what to do:
having a baby

go to her mother for Christmas
go with Frank to Australia
go with Tiger and his friends
For Rita, it´s not so important what to choose, it´s important that she HAS the choice of alternatives which can really change her future life.
Perhaps, now Rita has discovered herself. She had to learn how to write criticism in an objective way - "discipline the mind of hers" - structuring before writing an essay. Finally, she is able to understand Frank.
After the big argument in Scene 5 she has come to the point that she can combine her knowledge
what she has learnt + what she knew before
positive development in the end
Now, Rita synthesizes the best of literature and Rubyfruit Jungle. This means that she is someone who took the best of two classes and made the best she is able to do.