Educating Rita: The Muted Woman Raises Her Voice

Seval Arslan


For centuries, women have been excluded from the literary canon which has been under the dominance of male authors. The socio-political and domestic spheres of life have been divided according to the Cartesian dualism between the mind and body which is based on the already determined characteristics of man and woman by the patriarchal order. Woman has been doomed to the domestic sphere with certain responsibilities as a wife and mother; thus, she has been deprived of an active participation in the social sphere of life. If woman stays at home, she is drowned in a lack of a self, however, if she wants to pave her way towards an intellectual life, she will have to obtain a masculine position which, again, absorbs her female identity. In Educating Rita, Willy Russell narrates the story of Rita, a working class woman, who is devoid of a self and tries to overcome the difficulties life brings to her due to her social status and her sex. This paper is going to discuss Rita’s personal struggle to pass beyond these restrictions via reading and writing in order to obtain her own thinking and critical self that gives her the right to choose rather than to be chosen. Thus, overcoming the distinction between the reproductive body and contemplative mind, woman is able to assert her sophisticated self through active participation in the intellectual life outside the domestic sphere. Consequently, the muted woman is able to raise her voice by claiming her own independent identity.

DOI: 10.5901/jesr.2015.v5n1s1p111

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Journal of Educational and Social Research ISSN 2239-978X(Print) ISSN 2240-0524(Online)

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