Educating Rita komplette Zusammenfassung
Act I, Scene I:
In I,1 the two characters are introduced to the audience. We understand that Frank is not happy with his life, his wife and his job (Open University). He also seems to have developed a drinking habit. Nonetheless, Frank is well read in English literature. Rita’s entrance is remarkable, because the audience sees right away that she doesn’t behave (speak, act) in an adequate way. Her language is rude – at times vulgar with a lot of sexual frankness, her behaviour doesn’t fit into the situation (first meeting with a University Scholar). Rita asks a lot of very direct and inadequate questions (“D’y’need the money?” p. 10, l. 8)
In the course of conversation, the audience sees that Rita has a different attitude towards literature than Frank has (“It’s the kind of poetry you can understand” p. 10, l. 12). Rita quite openly reveals her goals: At 26, she feels “out of step”. Everyone else expects her to settle down and have children, whereas Rita wants to “discover” herself first. Her motivation to join the course is apparently that she wants to create a new identity for herself. She is looking for a meaning in her life and the course (i.e. Frank) is the means to this end. (We may infer that Frank is in quite a similar situation). Frank tries to convince Rita of finding a different tutor, but Rita makes clear that she is determined to have Frank as her teacher “an’ you’re gonna bleedin’ well teach me” p. 26, l. 1-2)
Act I, Scene 2
The first thing I consider important is, that I noticed two different levels in the dialogue. First there is a private chat and the second level is the ongoing education of Rita. Moreover, some of Frank’s feelings towards Rita become apparent. All through the text you get bits of information about the two characters.
The main content of act 1 scene 2 is the discussion of Rita’s subjectivity. Frank criticizes Rita’s lack of objectivity. Though Frank does understand why Rita is offended by the contents of the discussed literature “Howards End”, he does not appreciate the reason, why she stopped reading it. In order to educate Rita he tries to explain, why objectivity is necessary to be able to deal with such literature.
As a matter of fact Frank is quite amused about the way Rita’s trying to understand the books.
Some key parts in which shreds of the relation between Frank and Rita become apparent are e.g. when Frank is waiting for Rita to come. His repeated checking of his watch is a sign for his eagerness to meet Rita. Moreover, Rita admires the way Frank lives. That can be seen from the quotation “cos you’ve got taste” and “perfect mess”. Apart from that Rita is worried about the health of her teacher (“You’ve not been drinking, have ‘Y?”).
The ambition of Rita, i.e. she wants to be able to “talk about things that matter”, becomes clear in this scene as well. She tells Frank about her neglected school education and about the question of whether her life has nothing better to offer for her. She is trying to resist the pressure society is exercising upon her (“[…]you managed to resist another new dress?”p. 32 ll. 11-12) When Frank tells her, why he and his wife split up, she cannot understand the reason (“Nobody splits up because of poetry”). Shortly after this, he’s charming Rita and gives hints about his feelings towards her.
Act I, Scene 3
In act I, scene 3, Rita’s first impression of the books she has received from Frank is very negative. To her, these books are “borin’” and “sort of posher”. So it’s no wonder, that there are a lot of discrepancies (=Unstimmigkeiten) between her and Frank with regard to her learning (or her desire to learn). After they have talked about the books, he gives her some advice on how to understand these books right. At the end of the scene, Rita understands (or sees) that she has to learn how to cope with “proper” literature.
Act I, Scene 4
The fourth scene of the first act of “Educating Rita” by Willy Russell starts with Rita, who enters Frank’s room by telling him that she doesn’t understand the book “Howard’s End” by William Forster. Later Frank reads her homework, an essay on “Peer Gynt”, which includes only one sentence: “Do it on the radio.” Rita’s answer to Frank’s question, why her essay is that short, is that she has had a lot of work that week, and her husband Denny doesn’t want her to work at home. While she gets the chance to write this essay again, Frank and Rita discuss the “working-class culture” and “Howard’s End”. Finally, she writes two sentences (instead of just one).
Act I, Scene 5
In this scene, the audience learns that Denny has burned Rita’s books, because he has found out that Rita is still on the pill. Rita sees that she is merely finding herself and that this process is the reason for her crisis at home. However, Rita rather discusses Chekhov than her marital problems.
In the following, we watch Rita and Frank talk about personal matters – e.g. Frank informs Rita that he has stopped writing poetry, because he simply couldn’t stand his own “academic” style.
 It seems as if Frank’s way of “educating” Rita is in contrast to his own perception of his poems. Where he dislikes his academic style, he continues to demand a more academic style in Rita’s way of “dealing with literature”.
Act 1, Scene 6
In the beginning of this scene Frank is sitting in his office, when Rita is entering, out of breath. She´s a bit jittery and wants to tell Frank about her “adventures” she has had the night before. As a result of that she talks about some play she has been to and comes to the conclusion that it has been totally exciting and entertaining. After a short discussion it becomes clear that it has been Macbeth. Just a minute later she wants to leave again, because she has left a customer at the hair-dresser’s studio. But then she uses the word “tragedy” in a wrong context, so Frank starts explaining the true meaning of a “tragedy” and its difference to “tragic”.
Finally, Frank invites her to a dinner party at his house the next Saturday.
In this scene it becomes obvious, that Rita is just at the point where she starts appreciating literature. She seems to be amazed by the fascinating plots of some tragedies and plays. Indeed, Frank is a bit surprised but actually quite happy about this development.
Act I, Scene 7
In this scene Frank talks to Rita about why she and Denny haven’t arrived at the dinner- party.
Rita tells him, that she has had a big fight with her husband concerning the invitation and that she has wanted to go to Frank on her own, but when she has stood in front of his house she has realized that she has been out of place there, because she’s just a second- class woman and not as educated as the others. When she tells Frank this he tries to encourage her to be more self-confident because she’s a ‘delight’ and a funny person.
She has gone to the pub where her family has been but there she has also felt out of place. At this moment she has realized that she doesn’t want to end like her mum and sitting just in a pub singing songs. So she decided to carry on going to the course.
In this scene Rita feels out of place everywhere and she’s insecure. But after she has arrived in the pub she has started to distance herself from her family and her old way of living because she doesn’t want to end like her mother. The other character, Frank, is, in this scene, very charming and tries to make Rita calm down.
All in all we can see that both characters have changed. On the one hand Rita who is more self-confident and has decided to distance herself from her old live and on the other hand Frank shows more feelings and so we can see that now there’s really a relation between the two.
Act 2, Scene 1:
Rita is back from London and comes to Frank’s office. They talk about the time in which they haven’t seen each other and Rita gives Frank an expensive pen as a present. Frank hasn’t changed a lot in contrast to Rita. He is still drinking and smoking. Rita, however, has changed very much. She has given up smoking and has bought new clothes. She has new friends and seems more educated. She has even lost her innocent “point of view”. Because of that Frank thinks that Rita doesn't need him anymore, as she has achieved everything she has wanted from Frank at the beginning of the play.
Act 2; Scene 2
Rita comes in and speaks in a new and unnatural voice. She seems like a new Rita, who knows how to behave. She has even spoken to other students on the campus. Trish has changed Rita a lot and Frank doesn't understand what has happened to Rita.
Act 2, Scene 3
Frank is drunk throughout the whole scene. In the beginning, Frank tells Rita that his students have reported him, because he was so drunk that he couldn’t stand straight during a lesson. Because of this it has been suggested that Frank takes a sabbatical for an open period of time somewhere in the USA, Europe or Australia (p.93, ll.20f).
In the second part of this scene, Frank and Rita are discussing Rita’s essay on “Blake”. Frank thinks that it’s ok, but there’s nothing of Rita in it and Rita thinks that Frank still sees her the way she has been in the beginnig.
In this scene, Rita has changed a lot. She has become more self-confident so she wants Frank to respect her work and the way she has changed (p.97, ll.15-end). Moreover, she criticises that Frank doesn’t care for his students but just for himself (p.94, ll.1f.).
Act 2, Scene 4
In the fourth scene of the second act Frank and Rita are talking. In this scene Frank seems to be hurt by Rita. He thinks that she doesn’t want to meet him anymore, because she is coming too late and wants to leave after a few minutes. Frank confronts Rita with his view of the situation: she hasn’t told him about her new job in a bistro, where she has worked for a short time and he remembers older times, when she has told him everything. That is why Frank is also scared of “losing” her. He always wants her to stay, when she wants to leave. He is peeved when she leaves and he is jealous when he gets to know that Mr Tyson works in the bistro, too. Thus, you can see he’s jealous.
Rita isn’t that emotional in this scene. She explains to him everything about her new job, that she is worried about the exams and that she still wants to meet Frank. She seems to be very neutral without showing any feelings.
In the end, Frank gives Rita one of his poems and wants her to analyse and interpret it.
Act II, Scene 5
Frank is sitting in his study room, drinking and listening to the radio. His emptiness and loneliness are apparent. He used to see Rita every week, but now she’s gone and his life has once more become pointless, but this time with no hope of rescue.
To Frank’s astonishment, Rita suddenly comes in. She has read his poems together with her flatmate Trish. Frank is disappointed when he hears Rita’s pompous interpretation of his work. He doesn’t at all agree with her and thinks that his poems are lifeless and without any meaning. His comments are bitterly ironic, but Rita doesn’t notice that.
Sarcastically, he remarks that he has done a fine job on her and compares himself with Mary Shelley, the author and creator of Frankenstein. Rita doesn’t understand the hint that Frank has created a monster by “educating” her. He fears to have made her repress her emotions and spontaneity. Finally, Frank asks Rita to go away because he can’t bear her any longer.
Misunderstanding him, Rita is very angry and thinks that he just regrets to have lost his influence on her now that she has reached the same level as Frank. She tells him that she doesn’t need him anymore now that she has found a “better culture”.
When she describes her new life, Frank wonders if this is all that she has wanted: a room full of books, knowing what clothes to wear, what wine to buy, what plays to see und what books to read. To him this seems to be very little. He’s disappointed because he has tried to show Rita his understanding of culture. During the process of being educated, Rita has lost all the qualities which used to make her a special person: Her spontaneity, her originality, her vitality. He uses a metaphor to describe her change: Her “new song” isn’t any better than her “old” one, but only different and tuneless.
Angrily Rita accuses Frank of wasting all his opportunities in life. Then she ridicules him for still calling her “Rita”, the name she has rejected as soon as she has learned to recognize good quality literature and has left behind her old life.
Act 2: Scene 6
Frank and Rita now only rarely meet each other and therefore Frank has to ring her at work to give her the details of her exam. He doesn’t know that she calls herself by her original name Susan.
Act 2: Scene 7
Frank has been advised to take a two years vacation in Australia. He’s packing for Australia when Rita comes to him. Frank is surprised to see her. Rita wants to thank him for his help and she says he was right and that he was a good teacher. Frank wants her to come with him to Australia and Rita tells him that she now has a choice: she can choose from different options on her own. Rita informs Frank that she will go to France or to her mum.
Act II, Scene 8
Rita has left Denny. We learn that Denny has given Rita an ultimatum. Denny has wanted her to stop studying and come off the pill or else he has wanted her to leave.
At first, Frank doesn’t seem to carry on “as usual”, but then he discusses Rita’s essay and tells her that it is “moving” and “honest”, but that it wouldn’t be suitable for the exams. Rita wants to know what she is supposed to change. Frank, however, sees Rita (and her style of writing essays) as unique and he doesn’t want to change her. Rita responds to this by tearing up her essay and by preparing to start again.