“The experience of moving into the world both limits and extends individual freedom.” This concept is effectively conveyed through Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’ and related material ‘About a Boy,’ the novel by Nick Hornby and film interpretation starring Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult. Through Educating Rita, Russell has effectively portrayed both the characters of Rita and Frank forming a relationship which ultimately moves them into the world through different experiences of extensions and limitations on individual freedom. Rita finds herself through getting educated by her tutor Frank who extends her individual freedom by providing her with several beneficial lessons, but at the same time this conflicts with the expectations that her society and especially her partner Denny have of her, which is limiting to her freedom because they are dragging her down.
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This can be seen through the scene where Rita is explaining to Frank how this obstacle is affecting her study. Denny’s dislike towards Rita attending the tutoring sessions is due to his fear of her being transformed in a way that is foreign to him and his society. “He said either stop coming here and get off the pill or I could get out altogether” is a quote from Rita from this scene who is referring to her husband Denny, who plays the symbolic role of a character from this class of society who doesn’t understand why Rita is doing this and wants her to settle down and have kids, which can be seen through the reference to him wanting her to “get off the pill.” Another example of Rita’s limitations of her freedom is through Frank’s teaching methods and the confusion she is left with from his regrets, which can be seen through the extract: Rita – “if it was in an exam what sort of mark would it get?” Frank – “a good one.”
Rita – “Well that the hell are you saying then?”
Through this Russel is portraying that despite Frank knowing that the essay is well written, he fears that he has taken away Rita’s individuality and personality which shone through in earlier responses she wrote at the beginning of the play. After the last extract, the next thing is said by Frank, “What I’m saying is that it’s up to the minute, quite acceptable, trendy stuff about Blake; but there’s nothing of you in there,” which links back to Frank’s regrets of how Rita is now writing, and believe that he has taken away her individuality. Earlier on in the play, Rita answers an essay question simply with “do it on the radio” and another essay which is discussed through the extract: Frank – “Yes, it was – erm…”
Rita – “Crap”
Frank – “No. Erm – the thing is, it was an appreciation, a descriptive piece. What you have to learn is criticism.” Both these quotes from the play are examples of the transition which is made between Rita’s essays, and is what Frank thought at the time needed to be changed but then to later realise that doing this would change the Rita he would come to miss, and is afraid that he has dragged her into the mundane life where Frank believes he is in where the top marked essays are the ones which are ‘written by the rulebook.’ Through this concept of the different essay formats, Russel has made a comment of what is right or wrong in the world of literature, and if Rita’s transition from how she writes extends her individual freedom or in fact limits it through the threat of her individuality being lost whilst moving into the world. We can relate all of this from ‘Educating Rita’ to related material ‘About a Boy’ and how 12 year old Marcus Brewer and 36 year old Will Freeman’s move into the world extends their individual freedom through the relationship they form but also is limited at times.
“No man is an island, in my opinion is a complete load of bollocks” is a quote from Will which the film opens with and is the starting point for the transformation he undertakes throughout the film into changing from an ‘island’ into someone who interacts with and individuals and the world around him. Although it may appear that whilst Will secludes himself from society he may technically has more individual freedom, he ultimately becomes ‘part of the mainland rather than an island’ which proves a beneficial outcome even if it may limits his freedom, which is a small sacrifice for how positive the change is. This journey he undertakes is not without the connection made between him and Marcus, who teaches Will to care about things and in return Will helps Marcus to let go of the struggles he faces which includes being bullied at school and having a depressed mother with suicidal tendencies.
These factors are what limit his individual freedom which is helped extended by Will, whilst Will’s limitations include his struggles of holding on to relationships and making his life productive. Through both these characters interaction with one another, their individual freedom is ultimately extended rather than limited which is a beneficial outcome for both characters, and this can be perceived through a quote from the novel, “both had to lose things in order to gain things, Will had lost his cool, distance and shell, and he felt vulnerable, but he got to be with Rachel, Marcus had lost himself and got to walk home with his shoes on” Through both these texts we are educated on the concept of individuals freedoms being limited which can then transition into extended whilst moving into the world through the interaction with others.