Monday, October 3, 2011

educating rita VS pygmalion

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Educating Rita Vs Pygmalion

Writers are often able to create an original piece of work, by employing various elements of plot and character, from previous works. We can see Willy Russell’s drama ‘Educating Rita’ may be linked to many other texts, such as Bernard Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’, the fairytale Cinderella, Frankenstein and other texts. It is clear that Russell has employed a number of elements from the aforementioned texts. Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’ was a massive influence on Shaw’s writing, as it is from Pygmalion that the basic plot for ‘Educating Rita’ was derived from.

The characters are very much a like, as there are many characteristics they share. We see Professor Higgins and Frank both share the same title of “Professor”. Higgins is a Professor of phonetics whilst Frank is Literature Professor. Both of these men hold the job of creating the woman both Eliza and Rita desire. Higgins accepts the challenge as he quotes “I shall make a duchess of this draggletailed guttersnipe”.

Eliza and Rita are both from the working class society. They both want the same thing from their Professor-an education to integrate with the upper class, as well as wanting to make something more of their lives and themselves. Eliza, the flower girl doesn’t wish to be selling flowers on the street for the rest of her life. She wants to become a respectable woman working in a flower shop. “I don’t want to talk grammar. I want to talk like a lady in a flower shop”. Rita wants basically the same thing as Eliza. She wishes for an education that will allow her to find a better profession, rather than just being a hairdresser the rest of her life.

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Both women are introduced into the dramas as having no proper dialect. “I was off me cake”, this is Rita’s colloquial way of saying she’s crazy. Eliza on the other hand just cannot pronounce anything at all correctly. Every word she speaks is improper. She tells the taxi driver to take her to “Bucknam Pellis”. The driver does not understand as she means Buckingham Palace. The two Professors both have similar tasks ahead of them. Higgins has to transform the flower girl into a proper lady. Whereas Frank has to teach Rita about literature in order for her to confidently socialize with the upper class society.

We can clearly identify the change of character with both Cinderella and Pygmalion. Rita transforms from a lower working class hairdresser, to an educated woman with the ability to make her own decisions in life. This change in character can be linked with the fairytale Cinderella. We can see that the fairy godmother is responsible for changing the maid into an exquisite individual. Professor Higgins and Frank can be seen as Eliza and Rita’s fairy godmother as it is these two men that ‘create’ the women. Another link with Cinderella can be seen through Denny and him burning Rita’s books. This act is just like the ugly stepsisters and stepmother when they say “No Cinderella! You cannot go to the ball”.

We are also able to see a strong connection with the text ‘Frankenstein’. Frankenstein is the creator of a monster. This is exactly what both of the Professors did. They both created monsters.

“You know, Rita, I think- I think that like you I shall change my name; from now on I shall insist upon being known as Mary, Mary Shelley- do you understand that allusion, Rita? She wrote a little Gothic number called Frankenstein”

Frank’s words are therefore implying that he has created a monster. The fact that the name Frankenstein can be shortened to produce the name Frank may be a coincidence, but we are still able to connect Frank with the word Frankenstein, the creator of the monster.

The conclusions of both Educating Rita and Pygmalion have a strong bond, as both of the dramas do not provide a sense of stasis. This conflicts with the traditional story ending of ‘they lived happily ever after. The end.’ We are able to observe this in Cinderella and in most of the other fairytales. At the end of the last act in Educating Rita, Frank asks Rita what she is going to do, now that she has an education to support her decisions. Rita replies “I dunno. I might go to France. I might go to me mothers. I might even have a baby. I dunno. I’ll make a decision, I’ll choose. I dunno.” This reply does not allow the audience to assume the characters go on to live the typical fairytale ending, as nothing in her response implies she wants anything more to do with Frank.

Many plays, which have been accredited for being original, are probably not as original as first thought. We can evidently notice various elements of earlier works shining through all successful stage productions and other pieces of writing. It is these previous works which motivate past and present authors to continue with their work, and along the way allows them to adjust the various elements, which they feel need to be altered.

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