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Transitions allow individuals to embrace new perspectives of the world we occupy. Willy Russell’s comedic stage play “Educating Rita”, written in 1979 at a time when education was being made more accessible to the working class, seeks to illustrate how education enables individuals to transition adopt the perspectives of new social contexts. Peter Weir’s 1989 dramatic film “Dead Poet’s Society”, set in 1959 America during the transition between a decade of repression and revolution, in contrast conveys how education that encourages individuals to transition from conformity to individuality allows them to develop their own, unique perspectives of their current world. A state of transition is an exciting phase of life, leading to fresh opportunities and perspectives.
In Educating Rita, Rita transitions away from her working-class life by gaining access to education through the Open University movement, resulting in fresh opportunities. Rita’s initial perspective that her world is full of mediocrity is shown through use of the rhetorical question in “is this the absolute maximum I can expect from this livin’ lark?”, conveying Rita’s dissatisfaction the values of consumerism, of “music an’ clothes” that her working-class environment provides. However, education as a means of escaping social restrictions for working-class women is shown through Rita’s entrance in her struggle to open the faulty door to her instructor Frank’s office, a physical and metaphorical barrier to her transition into the academic world. Thus, Rita’s entrance conveys her d determination to transition and gain a new perspective that her world can be exciting rather than mediocre. Furthermore, Russell conveys how transition through education generates Rita’s new perception of her life having purpose through stage directions of Rita bursts through the door out of breath after watching a play. The stage directions not only reflecting her statement that her study of literature is “providin’ me with life itself”, but also highlighting her new perspective of the world as renewed and exciting as a consequence of her transition. Hence, transition is an exciting phase of life, leading to fresh opportunities and perspectives. Whilst transitions may be confronting, they ultimately allow the individual to grow by embracing new perspectives.
Through education from his teacher Mr. Keating, Todd Anderson transitions away from conforming to the values of his private school Welton, a microcosm of upper class society in the 50s, instead gaining new perspectives on the importance of individuality. A wide shot of students standing up to proclaim the school’s values of “tradition, honour, discipline, excellence”, in contrast to Todd hesitating before standing up highlights his initial perspective that it’s better to conform rather than confront fears of societal rejection order to transition. However, through a lesson activity where boys jump up their desks to literally see from a new perspective, Weir portrays Keating’s education as a juxtaposition to education that promotes identical perspectives and a vehicle to provide Todd with the opportunity to transition by confronting his fear of rejection. The switch from high key to low key lighting as a Todd jumps off the desk reveals how he begins to confront his fear of rejection. Further, Todd’s transition is shown through the camera rotation as he improvises poetry, the camera speeding up until the background becomes blurry to shown how he has forgotten expectations of others around him, gaining the new perspective that pursuing his values and passions are more important. In the final scene, Todd’s new perspective is emphasized shown as he stands on top of his desk to farewell Keating, with non-diegetic bagpipe music that has a triumphant tone to convey the success of Todd’s transition. Hence, while transitions may be confronting, they ultimately allow individuals to grow by embracing new perspectives. The nature of transition will always lead to something being lost in order to gain new perspectives.
In Educating Rita, Russell reveals what Rita loses in order to gain the perspective that her life has purpose. The loss of Rita’s uniqueness as a result of transition is shown through her shift in language from colloquial to formal, with her statement of “there is not a lot of point discussing beautiful literature in an ugly voice” a stark contrast from her previous colloquial language such as “dead narked”, showing how she has conformed to the pretentious values of the academic world to affirm her perspective that her current world is more meaningful than the old. This is reflected through Rita’s costuming of she is dressed in new, second-hand clothes, symbolizing her shift in personality; while the clothes are new for Rita, her ideas are borrowed from others. While Rita’s perspective that she knows how to find fulfilment in the world as a result of transition “I know what clothes to wear, what wine to buy, what plays to see”, Frank ‘s metaphor of “you’ve found a different song that’s… hollow and tuneless” reveals how Ultimately, transitions allow individuals to embrace new perspectives of the new world they occupy.
Willy Russell’s comedic stage play “Educating Rita”, conveys how education enables individuals to transition adopt the perspectives of new social contexts, while Peter Weir’s 1989 dramatic film “Dead Poet’s Society”, conveys how education that encourages individuals to transition from conformity to individuality allows them to develop their own, unique perspectives of their current world.
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