Educating Rita

Educating Rita Act Two, Scene Two Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Rita enters Frank’s office and starts talking to him in a strange new voice. When he asks why she’s speaking differently, she says, “I have merely decided to talk properly. As Trish says there is not a lot of point in discussing beautiful literature in an ugly voice.” Frank takes issue with this idea, saying that Rita doesn’t have an “ugly voice” and that he refuses to give a tutorial to a “Dalek” (a race of fictional aliens made popular by the television series Doctor Who). “Just be yourself,” he tells her, and as he does so, he notices some grass on her back. Apparently, Rita fell into conversation with some students on the university lawn before coming to Frank’s office. Hearing them engaged in a literary discussion, she interjected and proved her intelligence to them.
The course of Rita’s development is now almost completely out of Frank’s hands. Not only has she come back from summer school capable of reciting Blake by memory, but now she has a cultured roommate coaching her how to change her voice. Unsurprisingly, this upsets Frank, who wants to help Rita gain an education without actually changing herself, since he thinks what she already has is “valuable.” Rita, on the other hand, eagerly embraces the project of completely overhauling her previous identity. As she does so, she delights in fraternizing with students on the university lawn, finally feeling like she has joined the social sphere she has always longed for.
Themes
Social Class and Identity Theme Icon
Mentorship Theme Icon
Institutionalized Education vs. Experiential Education Theme Icon
Self-Worth Theme Icon
As Frank turns his attention back to grading one of Rita’s essays, she tells him that she met a student named Tiger, whose real name is Tyson. Apparently, Tiger was one of the ones having a literary discussion on the university lawn. As she talks about Tiger, it becomes clear that she admires him. “They’re all goin’ to the South of France in the Christmas holidays, slummin’ it,” she adds, to which Frank immediately responds, “You can’t go.” When she asks what he means by this, he says, “You can’t go—you’ve got your exams.” Still, though, this doesn’t make sense, considering that Rita’s exams take place before Christmas. As she talks about Tiger, Frank interrupts, saying, “Is there any point [in] me going on with this?” Going on, he asks if there’s “much point in working towards an examination if [Rita’s] going to fall in love and set off.”
Frank’s jealousy of Rita’s development outside his office is overwhelmingly obvious in this moment. Unable bear hearing her talk about Tiger, Frank tries to curtail her excitement by telling her that she “can’t go” to France with her new friends, acting like a jealous boyfriend or a parent. Rather than encouraging her to experience the world by traveling—a pursuit he would otherwise endorse, since he’s normally an advocate of experiential learning—he tells her that she must stay in England. When this doesn’t work, he tries to make her feel guilty for acquiring interesting new friends. In turn, Russell shows that Frank has become consumed by his personal feelings for Rita, which now negatively influence their mentor-pupil relationship.
Themes
Mentorship Theme Icon
Institutionalized Education vs. Experiential Education Theme Icon
Rita rejects Frank’s suggestion that she’s falling in love. “All right,” he says, “but please stop burbling on about Mr. Tyson.” He then focuses on grading her essay again, and she asks him how it looks. “Oh—it—erm—wouldn’t look out of place with these,” he says, pointing to a stack of other essays on his desk. “Honest?” Rita asks. “Dead honest,” he replies, and the lights go out.
There’s no doubt that Rita takes immense pleasure in hearing that her essay “wouldn’t look out of place with” a stack of pieces written by Frank’s full-time students.  For Frank, though, this is a depressing fact, since he’s unhappy to see Rita change.
Themes
Mentorship Theme Icon
Self-Worth Theme Icon