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Educating Rita

Alles zu Willy Russel  - Educating RitaEducating Rita is about Susan White (Walters in the movie), a married woman in her twenties working as a hairdresser who signs up for a course at the Open University because she is eager to learn. Susan has changed her name to Rita because Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown is her favourite book. Her husband urges her to have a baby and strongly opposes her decision to go to university. When the play opens Rita meets her tutor for the first time. Dr. Frank Bryant (Caine) is an unsuccessful middle-aged academic with a drinking problem who has no experience in teaching working-class students but who has agreed to tutor OU students because he needs the money.
The plot is a reworking of the old Pygmalion motif: As time goes by, Frank gradually overcomes his initial repulsion to teach English literature to an utterly uneducated person. Eventually, his rising ambition to turn Rita into a respectable and educated member of society gets the better of him, and when he sees how quickly Rita learns he falls in love with his own creation. Failing to see that Rita is no longer dependent on him, he asks her to spend the rest of his life with him, but Rita -- or rather Susan, as she calls herself now again -- politely refuses.
Although Rita knows that intellectual enlightenment is important, to Rita, education provides much more to her in Willy Russell’s Educating Rita. Rita’s education is not restricted to scholastic learning alone, her transformation from the uneducated Rita to the educated Susan is all encompassing. Rita sees and understands the importance of being well educated, but for Rita, education helps her to overcome her background and break away from the traditional role expected of a woman in the 1970s. Rita has set herself on a course of self-discovery, she has a determination to control her own life and make her own choices. Rita believes it is education that will give her these choices. Rita knows that the value of education goes far beyond simple intellectual enlightenment. Education entirely changes Rita which, though she is prepared for a change, effects her life enormously.

Rita’s background has held her back and put her at a disadvantage. There was a great deal of research done in the 1970s to show that middle class children were far more likely to do well at school and to go on to university than working-class children like Rita. Rita’s schooling disadvantage is shown in her recollection of school life:
“…borin’, ripped-up books, broken glass everywhere, knives an’ fights. An’ that was just in the staffroom. Nah, they tried their best I suppose, always tellin’ us we stood more of a chance if we studied. But studyin’ was just for the whimps, wasn’t it? See, if I’d started takin’ school seriously I would have had to become different from me mates, an’ that’s not allowed.” (Act 1, Scene 2, p17)

Rita felt the need to conform to the way everyone around her lived their lives until she realised that there was a way out. The class antagonism that pressures Rita can be seen through language misunderstandings between Frank and Rita:
Frank: You are?
Rita: What am I?
Frank: Pardon?
Rita: What?
Frank: Now you are?
Rita: I’m a what? (Act 1, Scene 2, pp2-3)
Education is the only way Rita can fulfil her desire to overcome the working class background she has been born into.
Rita feels that through education she can break away from the traditional expectations placed on a working class woman in the 70s. Pressures and influences on Rita are mostly from her family, in particular her husband.
“I told him I’d only have a baby when I had choice. But he doesn’t understand.” (Act 1, Scene 5, p34)

Another influence on Rita to become educated and resist conforming to the stereotypical working class woman is Rita’s mother:
“…when I looked round me mother had stopped singin’, an’ she was cryin’…I said , ‘Why are y’ cryin’, Mother?’ She said, ‘Because- because we could sing better songs than those.’…And that’s why I came back. And that’s why I’m staying.” (Act 1, Scene 7, p46)
Rita came to believe that she wasn’t just doing this for herself, she was doing it for all the women like her mother who never had the chance to make something of themselves, who were forced to fill the traditional ‘house-wife role’.

Education is Rita’s ‘journey of self discovery’ to fill the void in her life. This path of self-discovery is central to the play, through education Rita searches for the answers to life:
Civilisation has a tendency to attempt to divide people into different groups. Our environment weighs and measures us; then places us into a certain company.
Frank and Rita are the very example of two persons placed in very different social compartments. Their places in society differ greatly as do their roles as
student and teacher. And yet as one examines the script of Educating Rita it seems as though two people, who society has attempted to separate from each
other in every possible way, still have the world in common.
The first big difference in the two characters' social status is their sex. Rita is a woman, Frank is a man. Though we may try to deny it, there is quite a
difference between what is expected from men and women. Age as well plays a large part in terms of theses expectations. Frank is middle-aged whereas
Rita is still in her late twenties. Rita is facing masses of peer pressure, it is expected of her that she should now have children and become a housewife. Her
being fairly young and married, the thought of her going back to school instead of having babies is unheard of, quite abnormal, and even unacceptable.
Frank, in contrast, is a middle-aged man and a divorcé. As far as social pressure is concerned, he is now free to do his liking. He has already filled his
middle-class duties; he is educated, he has something of a career and he has been married. He now has a girlfriend, which people regard that he is entitled
to. Nobody expects him to make a deeper commitment to his girlfriend, due, it seems, to the fact that he has already been married once. These differences
lead to a certain lack of empathy on Frank's behalf. Frank doesn't understand Rita's situation, the social pressure put on her is incomprehensible to him.
Frank believes that life is a simple matter: don't love your husband anymore, get a divorce; don't want to have children, don't have children. What he does
not see, is that Rita is bound by the ways of her society, she's not allowed to differ from her mates, which has a greater impact on her than Frank seems to

realise.
In a way of thinking, Frank is free and Rita is not. Rita is bound by a lot of expectations to live up to, whereas Frank has leave to simply enjoy the rest of his
life. But, as Janis Joplin states in one of her songs: "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose". Frank is free, but he will eventually be left with
nothing but his memories. He has achieved a certain social status, but he can not be rid of it no matter what he does. Rita's situation is strictly contradictory,
she has her safe old community and life to lose, which is a lot to her. But what Rita doesn't have to lose, is hers to gain. Rita has the opportunity to exchange
her life for something completely different. She wants to through away her present situation, not knowing what she will get in return. The ability to make
this difficult choice makes Rita's life far more exciting, whereas Frank seems to have not interest in neither his own life nor the world around him.
Inside Frank's office the distribution of roles is seemingly quite clear. Frank is the teacher, he has authority over Rita. He also imagines that he is in control,
he believes that Rita only knows what he allows her to learn. Frank believes, for most of the play, that he can forever impose his values upon Rita, not
noticing that the two are teaching each other. Though Frank knows a great deal of all sorts of interesting things, they seize to excite him any longer. In the
play he is introducing Rita to these things, for example poetry. Given that she sees their wonder and beauty for the first time, they awe her. She is unable to
comprehend that Frank is numbed to the wonders of literature. Rita could be compared to a stranger who sees the world for the first time. It amazes her,
everything on it is simply extraordinary, the way everything works. Frank, in this case is like the rest of us. He has lived in the world for so long a time that
he regards all its wonders, all the animals living in it as simply ordinary. Rita opens Frank's eyes once more to things he has lost, she gives him her original
view of issues. Frank is the teacher, but his relationship to Rita is giving and taking, the two teach one another about life and empathy.
rote a love story as he intended to do, I consider certain aspects. I find two totally different main characters in Frank and Rita and therefore will be dealing with completely different ways of behaviour and reaction. By interpreting their statements and actions it might be possible to find some kind of conclusion.
To begin with it is possible to say that Educating Rita does not seem to be a love story in a common sense. Nevertheless there are signs that Frank becomes more and more interested in Rita and her fate. She has got a refreshing effect on him, which is caused by her naivety, enthusiasm and very own way of talking about and experiencing literature. In act 1, scene 2 he tells her how much he wished she had walked in twenty years before. Especially at the beginning of their acquaintance Rita is used to telling him almost everything about her life, very much so about private matters. But as she becomes more "educated" and changes her feelings towards literature, which becomes less important for her, Frank almost starts insisting on knowing everything about her situation.
In scene 8 she is late for the lesson, because she has just been thrown out by her husband, and Frank is very much concerned about her and her situation. But Rita is much more concerned about her Macbeth essay and is rather interested in Frank's opinion on it than in anything else. What she expects from Frank is criticism and support, whereas he wants to be allowed in taking part in her life. This scene already shows how different their intentions are.
Other signs of Frank's feelings towards Rita are given in scene 2 of act . She has been late for the lesson and Frank realizes that she changed her way of talking, is trying to talk and act in a more sophisticated manner. He is shocked by this development. There is also a touch of jealousy in this scene. Rita has been telling him about her conversation with other students particularly with one of them named Tyson/Tiger.
Frank: "Is there any point in working towards an examination if you are going to fall in love. (...) All right, but please stop burbling on about Mr Tyson."
Another time he is deeply hurt when he finds out that Rita had changed her job without having told him anything about it (Act 2, Scene 4).
How much he really feels for her becomes clear when he asks her to accompany him on his way to Australia. But Rita has already got her own ideas and plans and is ready to start her new life.
Is "Educating Rita" a love story?
For a start there are elements of love, undoubtedly. Certainly on Frank's side, but there do not seem to be any on Rita's side. Two different people with different lives and expectations. Two people that are about to start their life new. They have exchanged things between one another and now they are ready to go separate ways.
Probably it is not so much of a love story, but a story about hope, a new beginning including emotional aspects and the meeting two different worlds.
Inhalt
Educating Rita von Willy Russel - ausführliche Buchbesprechung auf Englisch. (2088 Wörter)
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02.11.2004 von unbekannt
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