The play, Educating Rita, investigates the way in which a woman, in her youthful age, Rita, has to cope with daily life, struggle, transformation, and different stages as she becomes informed. The play is based on the author’s personal life. From this novel the diverse cultures play a vital role in society and individuals’ social lives. The novel observes that the working class people struggle to break the lower-class circle. The novel discusses about cultural anticipations between the aristocrats against the working-class.
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The novel was written in 1980s, but the cultural anticipations of the period are not as significant nowadays as they were. The author was attempting to convey the reflection that once a woman is born into a lower-class culture; it is very difficult to escape from it as people ignore one’s aspirations and judge one owing to her/his culture. However, the novel demonstrates that just because people are in a noble class full of everything; it does not essentially signify that they are satisfied in life. Russell has clearly demonstrated his considerations of a significant- culture and society’s perceptions.
In this novel, Russell discusses the question of women neglect in the society through their negative stereotypes and being considered by men as persons to raise children and assist them in house activities. The author presents a solution to this question by demonstrating through the main character, Rita, that education can upgrade the diminished position and status of women in society (Russell 10). Rita’s education is not limited to academic learning only; her change from the ignorant Rita to the knowledgeable Susan is comprehensive.
The author not only demonstrates the significance of being knowledgeable, but shows how education assists women to prevail over their background and secede from the conventional role anticipated of a woman in the society. Rita sets on a path of self-discovery and is determined to manage her personal existence and create independent opinions. She trusts that education will enable her become independent in her choices by acknowledging that the value of education surpasses just academic learning.
Rita’s past has detained her back and put her in a helpless position. A significant amount of study completed in the 1970s proved that middle class youth were far more likely to excel at school and join institutions of higher learning compared to working-class youth such as Rita. Rita’s education faults are revealed in her remembrance of school life:
“…Boring, ripped-up books, broken glass everywhere, knives, and fights. And that was just in the staffroom. But, they tried their best I suppose, always telling us we stood more of a chance if we studied. But studying was just for the whimps, wasn’t it? See, if I’d started taking school seriously, I would have had to become different from my mates, an’ that’s not allowed” (Russell 17).
Rita wanted to match the way everybody around her lived their lives until she recognized that there was an approach to advance her life. The status battle that forced her is demonstrated through the conversation between them. The author considers education as the only thing that can achieve Rita’s aspiration to surmount the working class environment she was brought up in. Russell believes that through education, Rita can disentangle herself from the conventional beliefs bestowed on a lower-class female in the 1970s. Demands and controls on Rita emanated typically from her family, especially her husband. The author presents men as people who do not consider the decision of women in making choices. This is apparent when Rita’s husband disagrees with Rita’s decision of waiting before conceiving their first baby.
A different pressure that influence’s Rita’s decision to pursue education and oppose adapting to the conventional lower-class female is her mother. She realizes that she was not just pursuing education to benefit herself only; she was learning for all the women like her mother who by no means had the opportunity to do anything for themselves, and who were compelled to fill the customary ‘housewife responsibility’. Education is Rita’s expedition of self-realization to fill the empty space in her life. This journey of self-realization is vital to the play as via learning, Rita looks for the resolutions in existence; something that really pleases her (Russell 33). The novel presents women as people having strong resolve to manage their life by making their own decisions, and this is what they consider education will offer them.
The readers can evidently see how the major subject of the novel changes. The novel has a very powerful and emotional message and demonstrates that when women aspire to transform their life, they can be successful through hard work and determination, like Rita. Russel shows how a woman’s education and success positively changes the life of others. Rita has transformed to become an improved person and has quit her bad practices such as smoking for her own benefit. She has changed from a stylist to a well knowledgeable and esteemed woman in the society. Her husband started with his bad tendency of smoking, but quits smoking and starts writing poetry.
Russell, Willy. Educating Rita. New York, NY: A&C Black, 2013. Print.