“Individuals venturing into new experiences may encounter obstacles but may also gain significant rewards”. “Do you agree with this perspective?” In your response, refer to your prescribed text and atleast one other related text of your own choosing.
Individuals venturing into new experiences may encounter obstacles but may also gain significant rewards. This is present in the text ‘Educating Rita’ written by Willy Russell and the film ‘The Help’ written by Kathryn Stockett. In this text we see a fairly un-educated woman blossom and find herself through education; the obstacles she faces on her way to knowledge are the stepping stones in finding herself and entering the new world of education.
Rita is a typical uneducated woman; her life is already planned out for her consisting of children, cooking/cleaning, pub trips and the overall expectation to be content with this life and not expect any more. However throughout the text we see Rita break away from this lower class/restricting stereotype to blossoming and finding herself in the world of education.
The opening scene portrays to us the two completely different worlds in which Rita and Frank live. Rita has enrolled in an Open University course as she sees education as a way of moving out of her world; she feels out of step with her working class background and wants to discover herself first before having a baby and tying herself down for life. Rita’s constant desire to ‘know everything’ makes Frank feel that he is an appalling teacher because he feels he has nothing to offer her.
Frank is Rita’s course tutor; he is a very negative and dismal man who is heavily reliant on alcohol to dull his boredom and frustration. Although being a jaded alcoholic he is also a very precise, formal and educated professor who is just on a downward spiral in his life. Throughout the text we see Rita and Frank’s relationship grow as Rita makes him feel as if he has hope again, therefore his drive comes back.
In scene one we observe Rita struggling to open the door into Frank’s office; this symbolises her struggle to enter that world, it’s a barrier, however she’s determined to get what she wants – in this case education – therefore almost breaks the door in order to get in. “You’re the first breath of air that’s been in this room for years” quoted by Frank symbolises the opening up of a new world for him, he’s now got someone new and different to experience. This is a good change for Frank.
Scene two beings with Rita oiling Frank’s office door, then handing the oil to Frank. This is symbolic of giving him the key/tool to open up to another world. Rita still doesn’t portray herself as a ‘proper student’ and her self esteem/confidence is still very low. She doesn’t think she is capable of achieving the great essays that the other students write and doubts herself that she will even finish the course. This scene really reveals the cost that trying to change herself is likely to have on Rita. She is dissatisfied with her life and has a desire to change it, yet it would be easier in her opinion to simply stay as she is and continue her boring life of hairdressing and different flavoured beers.
Frank assigns Rita 3 novels to read as her hunger for knowledge is starting to grow extremely. The slow change in Rita is starting to become evident as she can read/take on any book presented to her, “it feeds me inside”. Her hunger is growing and making her slowly discover who she is, “it makes me stronger comin’ here”.
Although Rita feels as if she’s finally accepted in the university and has a place/fits in with the ‘proper students’, she still has barriers to face in her personal life that are important determining points in her progress and choices as an individual. Rita’s husband Denny isn’t accepting nor happy about her doing this ‘whole learning thing’ and forces her to choose between him and education as he doesn’t understand that this is the first time she’s happy and felt a sense of purpose in her life.
Denny has made her constantly feel stupid for even considering getting an education and therefore burns all of her books. The burning of the books is symbolic of Denny trying to prevent Rita from moving away. “You’d think I was havin’ a bloody affair the way he behaves” “And aren’t you?” symbolises Rita’s affair with education. Although she may not be cheating on Denny, she still desires to educate herself more than spend time with her husband and is happy with this choice as it is her own choice and no one else’s.
In scene six we start to see a notable change in the relationship between Rita and Frank. When Rita bursts into Frank’s office excited to tell him that she saw one of Shakespeare’s plays “it was bleedin’ great”, Frank thought that something serious had happened – which indicates that he is beginning to care for her. After inviting Rita to a dinner party at his house Frank feels closer to Rita – this invite symbolises the change in the basis of their relationship from teacher and student to a more personal one.
Throughout the text we have seen Rita grow and shape herself as an individual, no matter what obstacles and new experiences she has encountered with on her way she has got through them with determination and strength, and as a result has been great personal gain. Towards the end of the text Frank presents Rita with a dress; this is symbolic of a dress for an educated woman, she is now one and can wear the dress with pride. Frank decides to leave the university, as he does not feel it is the right career for him anymore and would prefer to spend his time doing something else. Rita and Frank have both grown and found themselves throughout this text which is also evident in the film ‘The Help’ written by Kathryn Stockett.
The Help is set in Mississippi during the 1960s, main character Skeeter (Stone) is a southern society girl who returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends’ lives – and the Mississippi town – upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of the richer upper class families. Davis, Skeeter’s best friend’s housekeeper, is the first to open up and be interviewed – to the shock of her friends in the close black community. Despite Skeeter’s life long friendships hanging in the balance, she and Davis continue their partnership and soon more women come forward to tell their stories – and as it turns out, they have a lot to say. Along the way, unlikely friendships are forged and a new sisterhood emerges, but not before everyone in town has a thing or two to say themselves when they become unsuspectingly/unwillingly caught up in the changing modern times. This is relevant to the text Educating Rita as the women find the courage and self confidence to venture into new experiences to help better either themselves or their community.
Courtney from Study Moose
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