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Rita’s Loss Of Self Through Education In Willy Russell’s "Educating Rita"

1678 words - 7 pages

The preconceived ideas that Rita has about the working class, as well as the educated class, greatly limit the way that she sees people and their roles within the world. Throughout Willy Russell’s Educating Rita, we see that Rita uses education in an attempt to become a self-supporting individual and, in turn, shed the stereotypes that plague the working class. She attends the university in an attempt to free herself from the bonds that are holding her back from being the person that she believes she has the potential to be. But at the end of her transformation, the reader can see that all she has done is allow herself to be bound by a different set of expectations than she was before. Rita has not truly changed, she has only made superficial changes and conformed to another set of expectations. Although Rita wants to become an autonomous member of the higher class, her efforts to do this through education cease to be an act of individuality and she becomes dependent on her peer’s opinions rather than her own as she falls into the stereotypical role of an accomplished woman. As a result of Rita’s eagerness to become an independent member of the educated class through education, she conforms to the oversimplified pretence that surrounds the educated class, forfeits her own opinions and alters her true personality.
Rita has many preconceived ideas about how people view her and the social class she belongs to. She believes that the class that she belongs to has no real substance, she believes that it isn’t refined. This becomes apparent when Rita says “I don’t see any culture; I just see everyone pissed or stoned tryin’ to find their way from one empty day to the next,” (32). Rita believes that the people that she lives among have no real culture. She believes that they merely exist, instead of living. This is significant because it shows how Rita views the stereotype of her culture and this is the stereotype that she wants to distance herself from. It illustrates the fact that Rita is aware of the way that people perceive her culture and this enhances her desire to break the mould of the classic working class woman. Along with the stereotype that Rita perceives with the working class, Rita also has a preconceived idea about the educated class, whether she acknowledges it or not.
Rita sees the educated class as superior to the working class. She thinks that they possess more culture than her class does. When Rita is telling Frank why she wants to be educated, she makes the comment, “Y’ sit there watchin’ something like the ballet or the opera on the telly... I want to be able to see it an’ understand it,” (8). This quote illustrates the fact that Rita believes that everyone who is a part of the educated upper class likes to watch ballet and the opera. She believes that being an educated woman means simply learning how to enjoy the activities that are associated with educated people. Not only does this depict Rita’s perception of the upper class,...

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