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I'll never let go. I promise.

—Rose DeWitt Bukater

Rose DeWitt Bukater (1895 - unknown; possibly 1996) is a fictional character from the 1997 film Titanic. She is the main character, portrayed by Kate Winslet (as young woman) and Gloria Stuart (as old woman).

Biography

Early life

Rose was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1895; her exact birthdate is unknown. Tragically, her father passed away which resulted in a series of bad debts that left her family crippled in financial issues. At some point, she met Caledon Hockley and prior to the maiden voyage, she became engaged to him. The goal of her mother was to have Rose marry him, and stay in their wealthy lifestyle.

Boarded the Titanic

Rose and Caledon Hockley in Southampton

It was the ship of dreams... to everyone else. To me, it was a slave ship... taking me back to America in chains. Outwardly, I was everything a Well brought up girl should be.

—Rose DeWitt Bukater

She is 17 years old during her first class passage aboard the RMS Titanic. Rose boards with her fiancé Caledon Hockley and her mother Ruth DeWitt Bukater. Although Rose does not love him, she is being forced to marry him by her mother. Since her father's death, according to Ruth, she was left with nothing. Rose was to marry into money.

Depression and suicide attempt

Caledon Hockley gives Rose the Heart of the Ocean

You know, there's nothing I couldn't give you. There's nothing I'd deny you... if you would not deny me. Oh, open your heart to me, Rose.

Caledon Hockley to Rose DeWitt Bukater

Tired of the repetitive lifestyle she leads as a first-class lady in which people get involved in treating her as if she is a helpless child, Rose tries to commit suicide by throwing herself overboard.

Meeting Jack Dawson

However, she is convinced to save herself by a young artist from third-class named Jack Dawson. On the way up, Rose's foot slips from the railing and she begins to scream for help. Even with Jack's assistance, Rose's screams are heard by three of the ship's crew members, who rush to her aid. Instead, they find her and Jack sprawled out in a compromising position on the deck. After being berated by Cal, Jack is slapped in handcuffs and nearly taken to the Master-At-Arms Office until Rose convinces her husband-to-be that Jack saved her life. After offering him $20, which Rose considers an insult, Cal invites Jack to dine with him and the rest of his acquaintances in the First Class Dining Room.

Befriends with Jack Dawson

500 invitations have gone out. All of Philadelphia society will be there. And all the while I feel I'm... standing in the middle of a crowded room... screaming at the top of my lungs... and no one even looks up.

—Rose DeWitt Bukater to Jack Dawson

The next day, Rose seeks Jack out to thank him for what he did. They talk on the boat deck for hours about their lives, and in particular, Rose's hopes and dreams, that for the time being, she knows she will never be able to achieve. Rose learns that Jack is a very talented artist after flipping through his sketchbook. She is shocked to learn that someone of Jack's poor standing was able to go to Paris, France. Rose also assumes that Jack has had a love affair with one of the subjects of his sketches; he denies the accusation, sarcastically replying that he only had a love affair "just with her hands."

Later, Jack teaches Rose how to spit "correctly" off the side of the ship, until the two are caught by her mother, the Countess of Rothes, and the feisty Margaret Brown. After the rest of the ladies dress for dinner, Molly takes Jack under her wing and dresses him in a black tuxedo that she had initially purchased for her son. While at dinner, Jack charms the entire table by explaining his way of life. Just before he returns to the lower decks, Jack leaves a note in Rose's hand saying, "Make it count. Meet me at the clock." In foreshadowing the film's ending, Jack stands at the top of the Grand Staircase beside "Honour and Glory Crowning Time," in wait for Rose. They meet there and sneak off to the steerage decks for a "real party."

Party in Steerage

Rose and Jack Dawson during the third class party in the Third Class General Room

What? You think a first-class girl can't drink?

—Rose DeWitr Bukater to Jack Dawson

At the party, they dance while not seeing Cal's manservant Spicer Lovejoy spying on them. The next morning, as they had breakfast together, Cal complains that Rose "didn't come by that evening" (implying that they regularly sleep together); Rose states that she was too tired. Cal complains that her conduct the night before must have worn her out, implying that her behavior was not that of a first-class lady. Cal loses his temper, explaining to Rose that even if she is not yet his wife by law, she is in practice and that she must honor him. In the midst of his anger, Cal yells at her, throws their breakfast table aside, and tells her not to behave like that again.

Feel Trapped

This is not a game, Rose. Our situation is precarious. You know the money's gone.
"Of course I know. You remind me every day."
"Your father left us nothing but a legacy of bad debts hidden by a good name. That name is the only card we have to play. I don't understand you. It is a fine match with Hockley. It will ensure our survival."

Ruth DeWitt Bukater and Rose DeWitt Bukater

Then, while Rose's maid, Trudy Bolt, is fastening her corset in preparation for the church service, her mother interrupts and dismisses her. Ruth tells her daughter that she cannot see Jack again, for both their sakes, reminding Rose of all the debts left to them by her father.

They've got you trapped, Rose. And you're gonna die if you don't break free. Maybe not right away... because you're strong... but sooner or later that fire that I love about you, Rose... that fire is gonna burn out."
"It's not up to you to save me, Jack.

Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater]]

That afternoon on April 14, she is walking on the boat deck with her mother, Cal and Thomas Andrews, the builder of the ship, when Jack grabs her and takes her into the gymnasium. He tries to convince her that she is nothing like the rest of her family and that she must break free of their oppression or she'll be miserable for the rest of her life. But Rose, as stubborn as she is, reluctantly refuses to see Jack's reasoning and returns to Cal's side.

Make her own choices

Rose and Jack "flying"

Later, while having tea, she realizes that Jack was right after watching a little girl being corrected by her mother and finds him at the bow of the ship. They share a special moment and have their first kiss as the sun goes down. Rose then takes Jack to the sitting room of her suite and asks him to draw her nude wearing only the Heart of the Ocean necklace. When Jack is finished, she puts the diamond necklace in Cal's safe along with the sketch and a taunting note for him. However, Lovejoy finds them and chases them all the way down to the boiler room of the ship, where they lock the door on him.

Rose and Jack in the Renault of William Carter

They then venture into the cargo hold, finding William Carter's brand new Renault travelling car. A few minutes later, the two make love in the back seat.

The Sinking of the Titanic

It's 11:39 P.M. when they come back up to the bow of the ship and share another passionate kiss, much to the amusement of the lookouts. In the meantime, lookout Frederick Fleet has spotted an iceberg directly in the ship's path. Ringing the alarm bell three times, he telephones the bridge. The ship scrapes along the iceberg against the starboard side, popping the rivets and creating openings just below the waterline. Jack, Rose and even Thomas Andrews who is in his suite feel the deathblow to the Titanic. Unbeknownst to anyone at this point, the ship is doomed.

Knowing the fate of the ship

Will the lifeboats be seated according to class? Oh, I hope they're not too crowded."
"Oh, Mother, shut up! Don't you understand? The water is freezing and there aren't enough boats. Not enough by half. Half the people on this ship are going to die.

Ruth DeWitt Bukater and Rose DeWitt Bukater

Meanwhile, Rose suggests telling her mother and Cal about the collision. When they do, Jack is framed for stealing the diamond and is taken to the master-at-arms' office below decks, and Rose is taken to a lifeboat with her mother. Upon realizing that Cal is nothing more than a self-involved jerk and her mother a typical first class woman only concerned for herself, Rose chooses to leave, determined to save Jack.

Saving Jack Dawson

Mr. Andrews! Thank God! Where would the Master at Arms take someone under arrest?"
"What? You have to get to a boat right away."
"No! I'm doing this with or without your help, sir. But without will take longer."
"Take the elevator to the very bottom. Go to the left... down the crewmen's passage. Then go right and left again at the stairs. You'll come to a long corridor.

—Rose DeWitt Bukater and Thomas Andrews

After receiving instructions from Andrews, she finds Jack in a rapidly flooding room on E Deck. She goes to look for help, but only finds a steward who urges her to go the deck. Eventually, she takes a fire axe and returns to the Master-at-Arms Office. Shortly after 1:15 A.M., she dismembers Jack's handcuffs from the pole with the axe, freeing him, and they make it back to the boat deck with Jack's friends, Tommy Ryan and Fabrizio De Rossi .

Boarding Collapsible D

On the boat deck, they find Collapsible D, which is being loaded entirely with women and children, and Jack sends Tommy and Fabrizio to find another boat on the other side of the ship. While waiting on Collapsible D, they are found by Cal, who gives Rose his jacket. When Rose refuses to get on the boat and leave Jack, at around 1:45 A.M., Cal tells her that he has an arrangement for he and Jack to get off the ship. As the two men watch the boat being lowered, Cal tells Jack that there is an arrangement, but he would not be benefiting much from it.

Staying on board the sinking ship

Rose! You're so stupid! Why did you do that, huh? You're so stupid, Rose. Why did you do that? Why?!"
"You jump, I jump, right?"
"Right.

Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater

Not able to leave Jack, Rose jumps back onto the ship and runs to the Grand Staircase, where she embraces Jack. Although Jack is glad to see her, he is afraid for both of them, now that the last of the lifeboats has left. Meanwhile, an enraged Cal chases the couple down the stairs, shooting at them. When he runs out of bullets, he stands there watching them get away, until he realizes that he is standing in 28 degree water. When he comes back upstairs, he starts laughing and tells Lovejoy that he had put the diamond in the coat, and had put the coat on her.

As they go back upstairs while the ship is flooding that night when the disaster occurs, Jack and Rose hear a little slovakian boy crying for his father in a rapidly flooding hallway. Jack attempts to rescue and save him, but his father finds them in that area and finally grabs his son who's part of that culture. Seconds later, two doors burst open and water floods the hallway. Jack and Rose are thrown against a metal gate. Their only hope of escape is a terrified steward with keys. The steward tries to open the gate, but he drops the keys and runs away. Jack grabs them and opens the gate seconds before the hallway floods completely. Jack and Rose make their way to the other side of the ship. It is now past 2 A.M..

Reunites with Thomas Andrews

Wait, wait, wait! Mr. Andrews!"
"Oh, Rose."
"Won't you even make a try for it?"
"I'm sorry that I didn't build you a stronger ship, young Rose.

—Rose DeWitt Bukater and Thomas Andrews

While on their way back, Jack and Rose run into Mr. Andrews in the first class smoking room, who has chosen to stay there and die. By the time they reach the aft well deck, all the lifeboats have been launched and the water has reached the forward boat deck, pushing it underwater and forcing the stern to rise out of the water.

Final moments in Titanic

Rose and Jack in the place where they're first met

Jack, this is where we first met.

—Rose DeWitt Bukater to Jack Dawson

They decide to stay on the ship as long as possible and head to the poop deck. As they make their way "up" the stern, it continues to rise out of the water. Eventually the ship is sticking out at such a steep angle that anyone not holding on to something slides down the deck. Jack and Rose hold onto the stern railing as the ship continues to rise out of the water. Soon, at 2:18 A.M., the pressure causes the ship to split into two pieces. The stern end is pulled into the air, sticking out of the water at a ninety degree angle, and it sinks into the water at 2:20 A.M.

After the sinking

Promissed to Jack Dawson

Rose and Jack in the water

Listen, Rose... you're gonna get out of here. You're gonna go on... and you're gonna make lots of babies. And you're gonna watch them grow. You're gonna die an old... an old lady. Warm in her bed. Not here. Not this night. Not like this. Do you understand me?

Jack Dawson to Rose DeWitt Bukater

In the water, Jack leads Rose to a floating door in the water that she floats on. While he freezes in the water, Jack makes Rose promise that she will survive, and never let go. Later, she sees the light of a flashlight from a lifeboat attempting to find survivors. She attempts to wake Jack, but soon realizes that he has died. At first she begins to cry and stays with him. However, she remembers the promise she made to Jack, and after forcing his frozen hand from hers and kissing him one last time, she says, "I'll never let go. I promise." She lets go of him and watches as he sinks into the abyss, then jumps into the ocean and swims over to the body of one of the officers. She uses the whistle to call the lifeboat to save her.

Rescued by Harold Godfrey Lowe

Becoming Rose Dawson

Fifth Officer Harold Lowe gives Rose a cup of coffee

Fifteen hundred people went into the sea... when Titanic sank from under us. There were twenty boats floating nearby... and only one came back. One. Six were saved from the water... myself included. Six... out of fifteen hundred. Afterward... the seven hundred people in the boats... had nothing to do but wait. Wait to die. Wait to live. Wait for an absolution... that would never come.

—Rose DeWitt Bukater

She is one of the only six people picked up by the lifeboat, which was the only one to come back. While on the RMS Carpathia, she sees Cal, who is looking for her desperately. She hides her face in the blanket just as Cal looks over. He doesn't see her and walks away. That is the last time she ever sees him.

Later life

Marriage and happy life

Old Rose in 1996

Look, I've already done the background on this woman... all the way back to the 20s, when she was working as an actress. An actress. There's your first clue, Sherlock. Her name was Rose Dawson back then. Then she marries this guy named Calvert. They move to Cedar Rapids and she punches out a couple of kids. Now Calvert's dead and, from what I hear, Cedar Rapids is dead.

Lewis Bodine to Brock Lovett

On arriving in New York, she takes Jack's last name when asked by a steward by calling herself Rose Dawson. She goes on to do everything that she had promised Jack she would do (e.g. riding astride a horse on the beach, going to Santa Monica Pier, flying a plane) and so forth. Rose becomes an actress during the 1920's and gets married to Mr. Calvert by moving to Cedar Rapids and they have children, but she'll never forget Jack.

Recounted her story

Calling Brock Lovett

By 1996, she lives with her granddaughter Lizzy Calvert and her dog Freddy. She sees Brock Lovett and her drawing on TV and she contacts him aboard the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh. She tells her story to the crew of the research vessel.

Old Rose before throwing the Heart of the Ocean into the sea

The hardest part about being so poor, was being so rich. But every time I though of selling it, I though of Cal. And somehow I always got by without his help.

—Rose DeWitt Bukater to Brock Lovett

Afterward, she goes to the stern of the ship and took out the Heart of the Ocean, which she has kept all these years for Jack. Knowing that he is safe in her heart and that her heart will go on, she drops it into the ocean. The last shot of her as an old woman is seen while she is in her bed, supposedly sleeping.

Fate

Rose reunites with Jack during the dream scene

At the very end of the movie, Rose is seen as a young woman of 17 again walking through the glorious ship and into the hallway where she is greeted by all the people who died on the ship and lastly with Jack himself, whom she kisses at the top of the staircase by giving way to thunderous applause.

Trivia

  • Whether she is dreaming or has passed away at the end of the film (as Jack said she would) remains unknown, as director, James Cameron comments, "It is to remain up to the viewer to decide whether Rose has passed away or is just dreaming."