Love and education are the two things that effect your life the most, and like in “Educating Rita” they can even complete alter the pathway of life. Rita started out as a hair dresser destined to do nothing but be your average house wife and raise children, of which she was not ready to have, and cater to the needs of her husband; however, education and the unexpected idea of love changes her life path dramatically.
In the beginning of the play, Rita is portrayed as a woman of little elegance and little intellect, but with motivation driven towards wanting to discover herself and the help of Frank, her tutor, she redirects her life to better suit the life that she wants. Through losing herself and finding herself, losing some loved ones, and lots of trial and error, Rita molds herself into the woman that she knew she was destined to be. Throughout the play there are two main focuses: education and love. The focus of education is much more obvious as Rita is a working- class woman in her twenties that has decided to go back to school. It is then that she meets Frank, a middle- aged professor at the University Rita chooses to attend, that we discover has a problem with alcohol and is rather weary and prone to bitterness and sarcasm.Order now
In Act One, Scene One Rita describes the unrealistic expectations of her customers at the hair salon where she is currently working: “They walk into the hairdresser’s and expect to walk out an hour later as a different person…But if you wanna change y’ have to do it from the inside, don’t y’? (13). It is from this statement that we discover that Rita is serious about wanting to make a change. By saying this she also tells us that she has an understanding that she has to change from the inside first, thus, is why she has chosen to pursue and education.
Act One, Scene Two is filled with Rita and Frank getting to know each other. It is also the first insight of what can be viewed as a romantic relationship beginning to bud between the two. Frank was explaining an assignment to Rita when she interrupts him to ask if he is currently married; Frank then explains that his late-wife had left him because they had been together for years, during which he was writing poetry, and he would only write about the beginning of their relationship. He told Rita that his wife had left him to help Frank find inspiration to write about other topics; however, Frank stopped writing poetry all together. He also tells her about his girlfriend Julia, who he has a tendency to stomp out on for days at a time. Rita replies with, “If you were mine an’ y’ stopped out for days, y’ wouldn’t get back in!” This leads us to our first insight of feelings beginning to manifest within Frank when he says, “Ah, but Rita, if I was yours would I even consider stopping out for days?” This is our first sign that Frank may be developing feelings for Rita because brings to Rita’s attention that if he was with someone like her that he would not even consider leaving for days at a time The play continues with Rita and Frank becoming very closely acquainted with one another, and beginning to understand one another on a deeper level.
However, in Scene Four Rita explains to Frank a conflict that occurred between her and her husband leaving us questioning if she had developed the same feelings for Frank. She explains that Denny, her husband, found her birth control pills, in which she is not supposed to be taking, so he burned her essay and a number of Chekhov books Frank gave to her to read. She continues by explaining that Denny despises the idea of her coming to tutoring sessions, as if she’s having some sort of an affair. It is then that Frank suggests that perhaps Denny thinks Rita is having an affair with him, thus making him upset about her continuous meeting with him. She goes on to say that she assured her husband that Frank is just her teacher, somebody who “feed(s)” her “without expectin’ anythin’ in return.” Rita explaining Frank as “just her teacher” allows the readers to see her viewpoint of a romantic relationship with Frank and establish that Rita does not have the same feelings that Frank has developed. Along with the insight of Rita’s feelings, this also demonstrates that Rita is becoming a changed woman due to the education that she is receiving. She says “I see him lookin’ at me sometimes, an’ I know what he’s thinkin’; he’s wonderin’ where the girl he married has gone to.” This shows us that Rita believes that she is changing and is no longer the same person she used to be before coming to tutoring with Frank. She is becoming more intellectual and it is becoming visible to others that knew the old Rita.
It is becoming visible enough that Denny buys Rita gifts in an attempt to bring back the person she was before she sought out an education. As Rita continues to develop intellectually, so does Franks feelings for Rita. Also, in Scene Four, Rita asks Frank to accompany her to see Chekhov in theatre but he protests in saying that Julia, his girlfriend, would be jealous. In response to Rita’s invitation, he asks what he’d tell Julia, “If she knew I was at the theatre with an irresistible thing like you?” he states. Frank continues by saying, “Rita, it would be deaf-and-dumb breakfasts for a week.” Frank’s assumption that Julia will be jealous speaks about the way he views his relationship with Rita.
However, it can be interpreted that, Rita knows there is nothing to be jealous about since she’s confident nothing romantic or sexual will happen between them. This scene highlights the difference of view point regarding their student- mentor relationship. Fast forwarding through the play, Rita has left her husband because he told her to stop pursuing an education and that she must stop taking the birth control. So, Rita is now a single, educated woman looking to make changes and discover her true self. Along with the shift in her relationship status, Rita participated in summer school in London where she met a variety of new educated friends.
Once Rita meets these friends, she begins to try to change herself and even questions why Frank does not make some changes as well. She reminds him that his drinking habits will kill him, his response being, “I thought you weren’t interested in reforming me.” She acknowledges that he is right, she does not want to change him, but she also suggests that she thought Frank might start “reforming” himself under her influence. Frank then says, “but Rita, if I repent and reform, what do I do when your influence is no longer here? What do I do when, in appalling sobriety, I watch you walk away and disappear, your influence gone forever?” She then asks why he thinks she’ll “disappear,” and to her question he responds, “Oh you will, Rita. You’ve got to.” Through this quotation, it can be interpreted that Frank is starting to feel less needed by Rita and is trying to prepare himself for her no longer needing him.
Along with feeling less needed, Frank continues to develop strong emotions towards Rita. When discussing a piece of literature, Rita makes a point to asserts her intellectual independence because she realizes that the advice that Frank is giving her is heavily affected by his personal feelings for her. When she says that she doesn’t have to come running to him whenever she reads something new, she implicitly acknowledges that Frank wants to still be needed as her teacher. In response to Rita’s argument, Frank says that he cares for her, ultimately admitting that he is letting his feelings for her affect the advice he provides as her teacher. Although Rita understands, she tells him that he needs to leave her alone for a little while, so they can effectively reestablish an appropriate amount of student- tutor separation. In the play’s final scene, Frank’s life has completely fallen apart. His alcoholism seems to have reached its peak, he’s been punished by the university for drinking on the job, and it appears Julia has finally left him.
This causes Rita’s presence to be quite significant since he cares so much for her and she has not entirely abandoned him. She thanks him for teaching her, admitting that she was “so hungry” to change, that she was slightly overdramatic and out of touch with reality. On the other hand, Frank has remained by her side and has helped her realize her own independence, which is the very thing she has sought all along.
In conclusion, education and love can greatly affect life as a whole. They can easily become overwhelming and make it effortless to forget what the purpose was in the first place, but with dedication and focus, they can greatly improve your quality of life. Much like Rita, I am currently lost and looking to find myself. College is where you are told to make the decisions that will affect your entire life, so it can become very overwhelming. After reading “Educating Rita,” I now know that through this journey I need to be aware of the changes that I try to make, and that I should make choices that better myself not completely change who I am.