Educating Rita
• ‘I am comin’ in aren’t I? It’s that stupid
bleeding handle on the door. Y’wanna get it
• Rita introduced as a forthright and crass
• Continued rapping on the door shown in the
stage directions and Rita’s struggle to get through
the door is symbolic of the character’s difficulty
to access both education opportunities and
opportunities of personal progression in life.
• It also symbolises the way that she bursts into
Frank’s life and changes it entirely.
• This foreshadows the difficulties that Rita will
experience during her transition from being
uneducated to educated and the
metamorphosis that takes place regarded her
own cultural self. Russell also highlights the
main themes of freedom and choice to the
audience in the first Scene – Rita chooses to
fight adversity in order to gain what she now
desires in life.
‘But I don’t want to be myself. Me? What’s
me? Some stupid woman who gives us all a
laugh because she thinks she can learn...’
‘I don’t want to be myself.’
This is a problem that leads Rita to the fake
change before the final scene when she has
finally found herself AND her education.
• “But if you wanna change y’have to do it from
the inside, don’t y’?
• ‘I’ve been realisin’ for ages that I was...slightly
out of step.’
Russell shows the audience that Rita is not
only changing – she is going to partake in a
complete metamorphosis. This will leave her
bereft of her old culture. Rita realises that
change is superficial unless there is strength
and conviction to aid the process. Her strength
is revealed as the character addresses her own
inner conflict: the clash of her old identity and
the one which she wants to adopt.
• ‘But I don’t want to be myself. Me? What’s
me? Some stupid woman who gives us all a
laugh because she thinks she can learn...’
• Rita’s derogatory comments about herself
show that she considers herself alien to both
• "I can't talk to the people I live with anymore.
An' I can't talk to the likes of them [the
academic crowd], because I can't learn the
language. I'm a half-caste."
• Rita is saying that she doesn’t fit in with the people
she grew up with anymore but she also doesn’t feel
she has learned enough about literature to speak
with the academic people at the university.
This was written in the 80s, so the expression ‘halfcaste’ was an accepted term to mean someone with
mixed race. Rita felt that just as a person who is
mixed race might not feel that they belong fully to
either background and feel torn between cultures
and religions, so too does Rita feel like an outsider
from both the working class culture and the
academics because in trying to be educated but
remain married to Denny, she is not able to embrace
either world completely.
• ‘I said ‘Why are y’ cryin’, Mother?’ She said,
‘Because – because we could sing better songs
than those.’
• Rita’s mother is crying because they are singing
the same old songs that they always do. She
makes the comparison that just as they are singing
old songs and therefore not embracing new music,
so too are they living the same lives over and over,
doomed to repeat the lives of generations before
them: lives dedicated to work and family, without
a focus on education. She realises that there are
more experiences on offer that would be ‘better’
for her family and laments that their lives could
improve if only they’d open their minds to
education and new experiences.
• The playwright conveys to the audience the
desire of many to have a better life. Russell
uses symbolism to portray that Rita’s mother
thinks they should make more of their life and
escape what Rita calls the ‘boring’ and
‘irrelevant’ life that Rita despises. Rita chooses
to free herself from her old constraints and
forge a new identity for herself.
• ‘We did him at summer school.’
• Russell continues to develop the themes of
freedom and choice as Rita continues on the
journey to educational success and personal
fulfilment. Russell shows that Rita is gaining in
confidence through his use of
characterisation. Rita no longer relies on Frank
and has the courage and conviction to form
her own opinions regarding literature .
• This leads to minor conflict between the
characters of Rita and Frank as Frank feels
abandoned by Rita which contributes to his
own identity crisis and self-doubt. Although
Frank is academically brilliant, his personal life
could be regarded as abysmal. Although Rita
relied on Frank for an education, It can be
witnessed that he still needed her.
• This incident conveys the power shift that
begins to occur between the two characters.
Frank’s symbolic burning of his poetry shows
how worthless he thinks it is. He does not
believe it has any merit nor worth, thus
showing his own instability and that he still
needs Rita while she is moving away from him.
• ‘...from now on I shall insist on being known as
Mary, Mary Shelley’
• Frank calls himself ‘Mary Shelley’. This is
significant as the author created
‘Frankenstein’, thus showing that Frank
believes he has created a monster.
• ‘Found a culture, have you Rita? Found a
better song to sing, have you?
Frank’s dialogue with Rita is heated as he
reveals that her cultural transition has made
her superficial. Rita now possesses an
individual agency. However, Frank thinks the
attention Rita has placed upon her cultural
metamorphosis is misplaces as he defines it as
‘shrill’ and ‘hollow.’ The word choice implies
that Frank does not believe that Rita has truly
obtained a culture as she is no longer true to
• ‘All I’ve ever done is take from you. I’ve never
given anything.’
In the closing scene of the play, Russell conveys
that the characters are now equal. There is an
underlying sexual tension in the scene and the
playwright shows that Rita’s transformation from
uneducated to educated is now complete. It is
significant that Rita offers Frank a haircut as this
shows that the character is comfortable with her
cultural change and identity as she has rejected
the superficial and shallow one she previously
believed was ‘cultured’.

Educating_Rita -