– Rose Dewitt Bukater Essay, Research Paper
Rose DeWitt Bukater
The sinking of Titanic is one of the most famous of tragedies in our history. Everyone knows that the unsinkable ship found its home at the bottom of the ocean before it even reached its first destination. Many films have been made in an attempt to recreate the events of that fateful night on April 15, 1912 but none have been as realistic as the version of Titanic directed by James Cameron.
When we think of Titanic, we remember the horrific number of deaths that occurred. A huge contributor to the number of deaths was the number of lifeboats. There were only enough lifeboats for approximately half of the people on the Titanic. Amongst the victims on the Titanic were millionaires, immigrants, honeymoon couples, and of course the crew. (Wells44)
Many of the characters in Titanic were based on actual passengers who perished with the boat and even some who were lucky enough to survive. Molly Brown, portrayed by Kathy Bates, was one of the first-class passengers that survived. Some others are Madeline and John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim, J. Bruce Ismay, Captain E. J. Smith, and Wallace Hartley. J. Bruce Ismay is believed to have ordered Captain Smith to rev up the engines in order to arrive in NY early to create more publicity. Wallace Harltey was the violinist who, both in the film and in real life, played for his audience until the bitter end. (Wells 44-54)
The focus of Titanic was a fictional love story. It was a touching tale of how two people from opposite ends of the spectrum find their way to each other despite
all odds, and manage to fall in love. These fictional characters are Rose DeWitt Bukater and Jack Dawson. Bukater was a Philadelphia blueblood on her way home to America while Dawson was a third-class passenger who was lucky enough to have won his ticket back to America in a card game just minutes before the ship set sail. In a short amount of time, these two lovers experienced more joy and sadness than most people do in their entire lives.
Bukater was a strong willed young woman. She was unlike all the other wealthy people of her time. She is forced by her mother to become engaged to Cal Hockley, heir to a large fortune, in order to maintain their place in society. Bukater?s family was wealthy at one time but lost all their riches with the death of Bukater?s father. Money and all of the things that come along with it did not impress her.
In the beginning of Titanic, Bukater reveals her feelings about the ship and the unhappy situation in which she has found herself. Bukater says, ? To most it was the ship of dreams, to me it was a slave ship taking me back to America in chains.? The best example of how discontent she was with the high society life comes straight out of the movie:
I saw my whole life as if I?d already lived it . . . and endless parade of parties and cotillions, yachts and polo matches . . . always the same narrow people, the same mindless chatter. I felt like I was standing at a great precipice, with no one to pull me back, no one who cared . . . or even noticed.
Rose DeWitt Bukater
Throughout the entire movie there are examples of how Bukater defies the stereotype of a young woman in her time. Step by step her defiance grows greater.
It was uncommon and not well accepted for a woman to smoke in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Bukater did not care that it was unaccepted, while sitting at the dinner table with her mother, fianc?e, and other members of the first class, Bukater lit up a cigarette. Her mother says, ?Rose, you know I don?t like that.? Bukater responds by blowing the smoke that she had just inhaled right into her mother?s face.
It was also not accepted for a woman to voice her opinion on any matter in front of a man. Bukater manages to defy this stereotype by mocking Mr. Ismay, chairman of the company that owned Titanic and also the man who gave it it?s name. Mr. Ismay brags about naming the ship Titanic to emphasize its greatness at which point Bukater mentions that according to Freud, Mr. Ismay is pre-occupied with size. She of course was referring to Freud?s theory that everything is based on sex, but Mr. Ismay did not know of Freud and was pretty much made a fool of.
In another scene, Bukater and Dawson are getting to know each other after he saved her life. Bukater realizes what a carefree life Dawson leads and becomes a bit envious. They speak of getting together once they?re in America and the things that they might do together. One thing that Dawson says he?s going to teach Bukater to do is ride horse back, not side saddle but one leg on each side which once again was not typical for that time. We later see pictures of Bukater on a horse, riding like a man, just as she had promised Dawson.
In the same scene, Dawson wants to teach Bukater how to spit. Dawson says that Bukater?s first try is pitiful and he shows her how to do it the way a man
would do it. While practicing her manly spitting over the side of the ship, Bukater?s mother catches her in the act and scolds her. In the end of the movie, this spitting technique is used to its full potential when Bukater spits right into her fianc?e?s face.
Another interesting scene is when Dawson invites Bukater to meet him at the clock so that they can go to a party with the third class passengers. Bukater accepts the invitation without informing her fianc?e. At this party, Bukater dances the night away and consumes quite a bit of alcohol. At one point Dawson and Bukater pick up equally full glasses of beer and in one shot Bukater nearly finishes it while Dawson drinks a mere quarter of it. Heavy drinking is not something that women, especially wealthy women, did.
The most revealing of all scenes was the scene where Bukater allows herself to be sketched by Dawson wearing nothing but the diamond that her fianc?e had given to her. Wearing only the necklace was her idea, she says that she has enough portraits of herself looking like a porcelain doll. Not many women do this in 1998, in 1912 her fianc?e called her a prostitute for posing the way she did.
In the end of Titanic, Bukater breaks away from several more stereotypes. She proves to be courageous and willing to give everything up for love. While being pressured to marry into the society, Bukater fell in love with Dawson and had a strong bond with him. When the ship was sinking and she had a chance to save herself, she almost killed herself jumping out of the lifeboat to be with her soul mate.
After the sinking, when the lifeboat came back to rescue any survivors and Bukater realized that Dawson was dead, she gathered up enough inner strength to save herself. She was one of the mere six people who were rescued from the icy waters by the single lifeboat that came back. A ship called the Carpathia then rescued the survivors and class once again separated them.
Bukater had an opportunity to get everything she had at the beginning of the trip back. Her now ex-fianc?e came looking for her but she hid from him and when one of the officers on the ship was taking names as they neared New York City, Bukater said that her name was Rose Dawson. Simply by giving a different name, she was able to change the course of her life. Following a gut feeling that starting a new life would bring happiness, she went on to be an actress. She married, had children, and even grandchildren. Best of all, as Rose Dawson, she was able to do all of the things that she and Jack Dawson spoke about.