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Educating Rita

From Academic Kids

Educating Rita is

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EducatingRita.jpg
Walters & Caine

Educating Rita is about Susan White (Walters in the movie), a married woman in her twenties working as a hairdresser who signs up for a course at the Open University because she is eager to learn. Susan has changed her name to Rita because Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown is her favourite book. Her husband urges her to have a baby and strongly opposes her decision to go to university. When the play opens Rita meets her tutor for the first time. Dr. Frank Bryant (Caine) is an unsuccessful middle-aged academic with a drinking problem who has no experience in teaching working-class students but who has agreed to tutor OU students because he needs the money.

The plot is a reworking of the old Pygmalion motif: As time goes by, Frank gradually overcomes his initial repulsion to teach English literature to an utterly uneducated person. Eventually, his rising ambition to turn Rita into a respectable and educated member of society gets the better of him, and when he sees how quickly Rita learns he falls in love with his own creation. Failing to see that Rita is no longer dependent on him, he asks her to spend the rest of his life with him, but Rita -- or rather Susan, as she calls herself now again -- politely refuses.

Educating Rita is a play for two characters and set entirely in Frank's office at the university, whereas the filmed version includes a number of minor characters who are only talked about in the stage play.

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