Titanic is one of those films that became a masterpiece because of James Cameron’s inventive wit and curiosity about interesting subjects, such as shipwrecks and English shipliners. But the film has never really been about the ship to most people, it has been about one of the two protagonists, Rose. The film charts the tragic episodes that builds up Rose DeWitt Bukater’s life: how she goes from a woman who criticises British artistocratic society to a woman who falls madly in love, with a pauper, despite being engaged to another man. Rose’s tragedy unfolds because of the love affair she has had with Jack Dawson, an artist who is a poor boy, with no riches.
Rose must get married to Caledon Nathan Hockley, the heir to a Pittsburgh steel fortune because she and her mother cannot afford to look after themselves properly. Rose does not fit into the aristocratic society she is being wed off to because of her rude and brutish smoking habits during breakfast, with other fellow first class passengers. The engagement with Caledon has given Rose plenty of privileges that were not previously open to her because of her status as a poor woman. Rose is from “a high-class”, and she makes that constantly clear to everyone but she can no longer maintain that status because she was obviously not born into it. After her father unexpectedly dies, leaving the family debt-ridden, Rose and her mother, Ruth has no other choice but to get Rose married off to a rich heir because of his fortune.
Caledon grows jealous of her romantic relationship with Jack Dawson and tries hard to break the two of them up but it leads to no avail. He eventually survives the crash of the ship, like Rose, and unlike Jack, and it is believed that Rose and Caledon never cross paths again. Caledon loses his life prematurely however because he loses his entire fortune at the Wall Street crash of 1929, and because of losing all his money he eventually commits suicide. Rose’s mother, is a widowed woman who holds the point of view that Rose does not need to have a marriage filled with a lot of love but instead must have a marriage that lets them maintain their social standing.
Jack is very different from Rose – he is a young man from Wisconsin and he has a timid friendship with Rose, at first, for which neither her mother or Caledon, show much gratitude towards because they do not like Jack. However, Rose is someone who is not so cautious about social customs in the first class and therefore decides to live dangerously with Jack by dancing and drinking with Jack in third class, in the middle of regular dinning with the other first class passengers. The two share not enough romantic moments onboard the ship because it suddenly crashes while hitting an iceberg on the Atlantic Ocean, in the direction of Newfoundland.
But whatever romantic episodes you do have in the film, such as Rose gently requesting Jack to sketch her in the nude, and the two making love in an automobile from Renualt motors, inside the cargo of Titanic, and Rose managing to rescue Jack, when Caledon discovers the sketch affixed to a note mocking him, that seems to suggest her defiance over her love affair with Jack Dawson and how Caledon can do nothing about it and has him arrested over a staged-theft, despite the fact that the ship is sinking and the threat it can pose to her life, is nicely illustrative of the love Rose has for Jack – she was “a high class woman” who might/might not be aristocratic (and employed) but was very defiantly ahead of times and “a very strong and independent individual”. Rose survives the crash and begins to call herself Mrs. Dawson despite the fact that she never got married to Jack Dawson, because he does not survive the Titanic crash, and in retrospect I have to say that Rose is very bravely poignant in expressing her thoughts on her love, even if Jack is no longer there to hear it.