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Tragic Hero Project: Jack from the Titanic

Tragic Hero Project for English 1 in Comparison to Romeo and Juliet
by

Morgan M.

on 21 April 2014

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Transcript of Tragic Hero Project: Jack from the Titanic

Jack Dawson, in the film The Titanic, has almost all of the characteristics and qualities that indeed make him worthy of the honorable title “Tragic Hero”.
Tragic Hero: Jack Dawson
We feel that Jack is suited for the title of "Tragic Hero" because he meets most of the requirements for Aristotle's characteristics of the Tragic Man, and the elements of a modern Tragic Man.
Having A Sense of Commitment
Even though Jack is of a lower class, he is still proud to be who he is and is not afraid to stand up for himself. For example, when he attends dinner with the first class passengers, Jack shows his confidence and ego as he charms the table with his witty jokes and fascinating stories about his life. He shows the pride he has of his lower-class life style, stays true to himself, and sticks to his outgoing, free-spirited, confident personality. Like the tragic hero, this gives Jack a unique dignity and power over the so called “superior” wealthy people.
Having Supreme Pride
Jack's Capacity for Suffering
Throughout the movie, Jack faces many dilemmas in which he makes his own brave choices. One of the most significant situations in which Jack does this is when he finds Rose DeWitt Bukater, a beautiful first-class passenger who comes to play his love interest, trying to commit suicide by jumping off the boat because of her repetitive lifestyle and forced engagement to Caledon, a.k.a Cal, Hockley. Jack decides to save her and stop her from committing suicide. He approaches her and tells Rose not to do it. When she yells at him to go away, he says “I can't. I'm involved now. You let go, and I'm, I'm 'onna have to jump in there after you.” Rose then tells him he would be killed if he jumped too. Jack replies “It would hurt, I'm not saying it wouldn't. Tell you the truth, I'm a lot more concerned about that water being so cold.. it hits you like a thousand knives stabbing you all over your body. You can’t breathe. You can’t think. At least, not about anything but the pain. Which is why I'm not looking forward to jumping in there after you. Like I said, I don't have a choice. I guess I'm kinda hoping you’ll come back over the railing an’ get me off the hook here.” This scene shows that Jack decides that if Rose jumps, he jumps and he has the faith and courage to accept the outcome of this choice, even if that means killing himself.
Believing in His Own Freedom:
Tragic Hero Project: Jack from the
Titanic

By: Rose Giandana and Morgan Martinson Period 1
Example of Jack Having Supreme Pride:
Even when Rose’s pretentious mother, Ruth, confronts Jack at the dinner table about his lower class status and says “You find that sort of ruthless existence appealing, do you?”, he has the pride to reply “Well, yes, ma'am, I do... I mean, I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what's gonna happen or, who I'm gonna meet, where I'm gonna wind up. Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people. I figure life's a gift and I don't intend on wasting it. You don't know what hand you're gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you... to make each day count.” This shows that Jack is proud to be who he is, even though he is of a very lower class and his noble reply to Ruth gives Jack dignity and makes him the better person in the situation compared to the snobby, rude rich passengers.
Vigorous Protest
Transfiguration
Jack's Impact
Jack is majorly impacted by the tragedies he faces and it is assumed that he gains a deeper understanding of the importance of love as he demonstrates that when love is true nothing, including society, can stop it. But not only does Jack impact himself, he also impacts Rose and the audience significantly, as they come to see the power of hope and love as well. As the ship begins to sink and Jack is in the freezing water slowly dying, he says, “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?” Rose replies, “I can't feel my body.” Jack then tells her, “winning that ticket, Rose, was the best thing that ever happened to me... it brought me to you. And I'm thankful for that, Rose. I'm thankful. You must do me this honor. Promise me you'll survive. That you won't give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now, Rose, and never let go of that promise.” Rose says, “ I promise.” Jack then replies, “never let go.” Rose says, “I'll never let go, Jack. I'll never let go.” Here, it is clear that Jack considerably impacted Rose’s live. He was not only her first lover but he also was her savior in the tragic sinking of the Titanic as he tells her to never give up hope and that as long as she stayed on the door, she would be alright and live a long, happy live. This scene also impacts the audience through catharsis. When Jack dies from hypothermia and Rose is devasted, the audience feels complete sadness and pity. They see that Jack was a great, heroic man and wish Jack could have survived so he and Rose could continue to be together like they deserved to be. Overall, Jack has a major impact on himself, Rose, and the audience.
Jack's Role in Society and How He is Treated
Society serves as the oppressor in that he is treated poorly due to his low status, third-class and is prevented from being with Rose, who is of a much higher, wealthy class. For instance, Roses pretentious mother forbids Rose from seeing Jack because he is of a lower class and their relationship undergoes many problems as society gets in the way of their love. In fact the tragic movie could have had a much happier ending if society (aka Caledon, a wealthy passenger who was supposed to be married to Rose) hadn't locked Jack in a steerage level room when the boat began to sink, as Jack and Rose would've been able to escape quicker. Also, staff on the boat determined which people could get into the life boats first, based on their class status and role in society. But because Jack was of a lower class, he was not allowed on the boat and if he had been, he and Rose could have survived. The prejudicial and classist society clearly served Jack poorly.
The Audience and Jack
After seeing Rose and Jack’s romance evolve, the audience is completely invested in their relationship. The romance they share is captivating and like many love stories, Jack and Rose’s story is believable for the most part. It grips the audience and makes them root for the two to survive and love each other. So, when Jack dies due to hypothermia, the audience is devastated by his death and feel empathy for Jack as they wish he did not have to die so the love he and Rose shared could continue. The classic “never let go” lines sends the audience over the edge and pulls at their heart strings. Also, jacks death has no recognition or ceremony, a common element in the modern tragedy. This makes the audience feel even more sympathetic towards him, as he dies forgotten and not recognized as the great hero and man he proved to be.

Jack's Status in Society
In the early 1900’s time period in which the movie, Titanic, takes place, Jack is in the lower class and has a very low status in society. He is a third-class artist, and is only able to board the ship because he won two tickets, one for him and his friend Fabrizio De Rossi, by beating two Swedish men in a game of poker. Later on in the movie, the crew finds Jack and Rose sprawled out on the floor together, after Jack saves Rose from committing suicide, but not knowing this, they call the Master at Arms, which caused Cal, Rose’s forced rich fiance, to come to the scene. Cal attempted to have Jack arrested and called him “filth”, which showed how third-class passengers were looked down upon. It is clear that Jack is not of high status which comes to affect him tremendously throughout the movie.
In conclusion, we feel that Jack Dawson, from Titanic, is the perfect Tragic Hero because he fits almost all of the requirements from historical and modern literature.
Jack suffers tremendously throughout the movie. He suffers because he believes that the love he and Rose shares is true, even though society does not want him to be with Rose because of his lower class status. He also has the strength to endure the pains society inflicts upon him. We see Jack suffer in multiple scenes. One scene in which Jack suffers is when he is accused of stealing the Heart of the Ocean, a beautiful necklace Rose wore when Jack drew a photo of her. At first, Rose believes Jack stole the necklace and feels betrayed, and Jack is then devastated that his love does not believe him when he says he did not steal it. We also see Jack suffer when the ship begins to sink and Jack is arrested and handcuffed to a pole on level E of the ship by Ruth and Cal for supposedly stealing the necklace. The room rapidly begins to flood and Jack starts to feel desperate, but has no fear of death, as he trusts that Rose will come to save him. Finally, Jack suffers for Rose near the end when he finds a door floating in the water but there is not enough room for the two of them to float on it together, so he lets Rose lie on top of it, as he freezes in the ice cold water. It is evident that Jack suffers because he loves Rose and is so dedicated to her that he endures the pain and problems thrown at him.
Jack is committed to Rose no matter what. Once the forces of society set conflicts in motion, Jack is devoted to being with Rose. One example in which Jack shows his dedication to Rose is when her mother, Ruth, forbids Rose from seeing him since she views Jack as an uncivilized, poor child. When Jack realizes this, he borrows a coat from an unsuspecting passenger and goes to see Rose unnoticed. He then tells her, “ I'm not an idiot, I know how the world works. I've got ten bucks in my pocket, I have no-nothing to offer you and I know that. I understand. But I'm too involved now. You jump, I jump remember? I can't turn away without knowing you'll be all right... That's all that I want.” This goes to show that even though Jack knows he has nothing to offer Rose because of his low class status, he will always be committed to her and her well being because all he cares about is being with her and making sure she is alright. We also see Jacks commitment to Rose later on in the movie, as he is devoted to making sure she is safe when the ship begins to sink.
Even with all odds against him, Jack never accepts his fate against the situation in which he finds himself and he tries to get through the situation with logic, vehemence, and pain. For instance, as the ship begins to sink and Jack and Rose are trapped behind a gate, their last hope to escape is a terrified steward with a key to the gate. However, the steward drops the key in the water and as more water rushes into the hall, runs for his life. Although it then seems like Rose and Jack have no chance of survival, Jack refuses to drown and he dives under the water, and reaches as far as he can for the key. Jack could have easily given up in this situation, but instead he risked drowning to save his and Rose’s life. Jack also refuses to allow society to control him and take his life. For example, when Cal chases Jack through the ship with a hand gun and tries to kill him out of anger and jealousy of Rose’s love for Jack, Jack does not allow himself to be murdered, as he runs away from Cal until he runs out of bullets. Jack’s vigorous protest is clear as he refuses to die and keeps Rose safe, no matter what situation he is in. However, Jack does not cry out against the gods, his own weaknesses, the world, and the forces that placed him in jeopardy. He does not pity himself once and he fights through the problems he faces instead of crying out against him, which makes him an even more honorable tragic hero.
In the Titanic, Jack does not have a clear transfiguration. He does suffer tremendously due to the wrath of society and the sinking of the ship, but Jack's transformation is not completely evident or easy to see. Jack does not see more clearly his place in the universe and the greatness that is human potential and Jack does not rise from the ash heap a wise and more humane individual; he already is a wise and humane individual when the movie begins. Yet, Jack's death does leave a memory of glory in Rose's and the audience's heart, as he dies after saving Rose and giving her the strength and motivation to live. Although Jack's transfiguration is unclear, the audience can infer that Jack has learned from his agony the importance and power of love and that if you truly love someone, nothing can get in your way. This can be assumed because the audience witnesses Jack conquer the many problems society throws at him, such as when Cal tries to kill Jack, and he fights through such problems because he loves Rose so much and won't let anyone stop him from doing so. Thus, even though Jack's transfiguration is not clear in the movie, his story fits all the other characteristics and he deserves a place of honor with the greatest of tragic heroes.
Aristotle's Characteristics of the Tragic Man:
1.) A belief in his own freedom
2.) A supreme pride
3.) Capacity for suffering
4.) A sense of commitment
5.) Vigorous protest
6.) Transfiguration
7.) Impact
Elements of Modern Tragedy:
1.) Status
2.) Society
3.) Audience
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