In Defence of…Rose DeWitt Bukater

I watched Titanic again the other night. Again as in, for the millionth time, (I’m a little obsessed) it’s such a great film, I love that sense of impending doom of the first half and the tragedy of the second.

But alright, I’ll admit it; I’m a sucker for the romance. Young Leo DC as the swoon-worthy Jack Dawson who saves Rose ‘in every way a person can be saved’? What more do you want? Oh wait, I know – you wanted Jack to live.

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Everyone wanted Jack to live. I did, he did, Rose did. Yes that’s right, you heard me, Rose wanted Jack to live – despite her best attempt at suggesting otherwise, Rose totally wanted Jack to survive and just because she didn’t budge over on that piece of door/ceiling/wood/whatever it is doesn’t make her the selfish cow the Internet seems to think she is.

Now don’t worry. I’m not going to bombard you with graphs and diagrams showing how they could have both fitted on the door/ceiling/wood/whatever it is there’s enough material on that to debate in the House of Commons.

I’m defending Rose because so many people see her as the awful person in the Jack/Rose relationship. Arguments like ‘she didn’t really love him’ and ‘Jack made all the sacrifices’ bug me to no end. Okay, so Jack made the ultimate sacrifice but there was no guarantee he would have survived had he not met Rose. He’d have been quote: “rowing with the other slaves” down in steerage, but seriously only around 13% of male third class passengers survived the sinking , scrappy Jack didn’t stand much of a chance.

But back to Rose, I want to draw attention to her finest moments, those that really show that she was willing to make her own sacrifices for Jack and that she did care for him in the same way that he clearly cared for her. I present my evidence as follows;

  1. She Seeks Jack out to Thank Him

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Despite the fact that he’s already been invited to dinner (possibly more food than he’s had all week) Rose seeks out Jack in order to personally thank him for literally saving her life (twice) the night before. She then spends the best part of the day wandering around the ship with him and admiring his drawings. The girl clearly likes what she sees.

2. She Makes Him Feel as Welcome as Possible at Dinner

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When Jack does come to dinner, Rose takes it upon herself to keep him in the loop and introduces him to all her family’s friends, making sure he doesn’t feel any more out of his depth (sorry) than he already is. After all, what young, third class, stowaway doesn’t want to hear all about which socialite is pregnant and which one designs naughty lingerie?

3. She Deals with Cal’s Crap

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Following her ‘excursions below deck’ Rose has to deal with a moody and blue-balled Cal the next morning. Not only does he patronise, intimidate and threaten her, he also ruins a perfectly good breakfast. Jack meanwhile, is probably chilling with Fabrizio since, iceberg aside, his journey is relatively plain sailing (sorry).

4. She Changes Her Mind

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When Jack drags Rose into the Titanic’s gym to profess his feelings for her, Rose does what any normal girl would do when faced with a dreamboat (sorry) like Jack and tells him to get lost. It’s not that she doesn’t feel the same way as he does, she’s just taken by surprise (literally, one minute she’s doing lifeboat maths with Mr Andrews, the next Jack is waxing lyrical). A girl needs a bit of time to mull things over, after all, Rose is engaged to Cal and stands to lose an awful lot if she runs off with Jack, her mother might even become (gasp) a seamstress! So when Rose changes her mind and seeks Jack out it’s a sign of her first big sacrifice, surrendering a comfortable and secure life for someone who by his own account has ‘nothing to offer her.’

5.  She’s Open About their Relationship

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If Facebook had existed in 1912 Rose’s status would have gone from ‘Engaged to Cal Hockley’ to ‘In a Relationship with Jack Dawson’ quicker than you can say ‘Iceberg right ahead”.  Rose could have very easily told Jack that they should keep a low profile until docking in New York, it certainly would have made life easier for her considering how vile Cal and her mother were. Instead she struts around hand in hand with Jack for the whole ship to see, kisses him every other minute and leaves raunchy drawings and notes in Cal’s safe to further humiliate him.

6.  She’s Committed

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The term ‘holiday romance’ exists because it happens, and Jack and Rose could easily have called it a day had the Titanic docked without any hitches. Instead, she’s ready to commit to Jack before the ship even hits the iceberg. Ditching Cal and co for the duration of a cruise is easy but getting off at New York with Jack is commitment with a capital C.

7.  She Believes Jack without any Proof

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When Jack gets framed for stealing the necklace from Cal’s suite it doesn’t look good for Mister Big Artiste (Rose’s words not mine). Poor boy seizing an opportunity to steal from a wealthy family? Check. Naive girl trusting him around all kinds of expensive trinkets? Check. Past stealing experience? Check. It’s not looking good for Jack and when Cal spells it out crudely to Rose there’s the teeeeeniest flicker of doubt in her eyes as Jack is dragged away to ‘jail’. Of course, she knows Jack didn’t do it, because moments later she’s running up and down corridors searching for him. When Jack asks her how she found out he didn’t do it her reply sums up how much she trusts him – “I didn’t. I just realised I already knew.”

8. She Saves His Life

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Okay, so admittedly, Jack kinda wins in the whole saving your life stakes but in fairness to Rose she gets him out of a pickle when she rescues him from a slow and painful death of drowning in a makeshift prison. Handcuffed to a pipe, Jack is pretty much left for dead as the water flows in (pretty much, I mean , if he really wanted to he could have bitten through his wrist like Lena Headey did in an episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles)  and meanwhile Rose doesn’t exactly have the easiest job finding him. Mr Andrews’ directions are -if she’s anything like me- likely to be forgotten as soon as she leaves him (Take the elevator to the bottom. Go to the left down the crewman’s passage. Then go right and left again at the stairs. You’ll come to a long corridor…) and she gets herself into a fistfight with a crew member all in the space of a few minutes. Axing Jack’s cuffs off with her eyes shut probably sums up the run of good fortune she had during the sinking.
9. She Got Off the Boat

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If you don’t tear up here there’s something wrong with you. Long before Rachel got off the plane, Rose got off her lifeboat and ran straight back to Jack. “You’re so stupid,” he says with a smile, “you jump, I jump right?” she replies. The cynics amongst us may roll their eyes and point out that she has only landed him with additional baggage and has hampered his chances of escaping onto a lifeboat. But come on, we all know Jack isn’t getting on a lifeboat, he certainly won’t be on Cal’s one for a start and he’s far too noble to take a seat when there are still women and children aboard, so why not spend your last hour or so with your new girl?

10. She Remembers Things

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Don’t you just love it when you’re hanging on for dear life at the edge of a rapidly sinking ship and bae reminds you of your meet-cute? Well that’s Rose for you, sure, it might be a sign of her being the sort to remember three monthiversarys but at least it takes your mind off your impending death right?

11. She’s Not too Feminist

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I know these days it’s super ‘liberating’ to refuse to take your husband’s name lest you lose your identity or something equally stupid (unless the surname is something like Tyrd) but back during Rose’s day relinquishing your maiden name was a Big Deal™. Okay, so she didn’t even have the right to vote and probably didn’t have much say in the matter but taking a dead man’s name after knowing him for a matter of days qualifies as a pretty Big Deal™ too. Considering having the right surname could make or break a young woman in the 1910s, Rose’s decision to reject DeWitt Buckater is ballsy to say the least, and touching too since neither Jack Dawson or Rose DeWitt Buckater really survived.

12. She Keeps Her Promise

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I imagine most reading this are smart enough to realise that when Rose says ‘I’ll Never Let Go’ she’s not referring to physically letting go of Jack’s body. Right? He gets her to promise him she’ll survive and then says; “…promise me now, and NEVER LET GO OF THAT PROMISE” which in fairness, she does. She never lets go of the promise. She does everything he asked her to do, from having babies (granddaughters don’t magically appear) to riding a horse on the beach (and not sidesaddle) just like he told her she would do hours earlier in the film when everything was still cute and happy. She even dies in her bed an old lady like he asked her to do (unless you’re one of the wackos who think she’s just dreaming at the end of the film, in which case; diddums). So she keeps her promise to him for 84 years – if that’s not love, what is?

 

So there it is; my case for Rose. And if you’re still not convinced…

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