Whether you love Titanic, hate Titanic, or have never even seen Titanic, there’s no way you’ve managed to escape endless theories and debates over that f*cking door. You know the one — the door at the end that probably could have fit both Rose and Jack, but which Jack lets only Rose float on while he clings to the side and eventually freezes to death. Like I said, that f*cking door.
Although Titanic director James Cameron himself debunked the theory that Jack ever could’ve fit on the door, fans of the movie tend to disagree. The debate has been so intense over the years that Mythbusters finally re-created the scene to try to get to the bottom of it, and even they concluded there was plenty of room for Jack. Well, a Reddit theory about the issue has resurfaced (unlike Jack, RIP), and it puts everything we’ve ever known about Rose and Jack’s relationship into question. Basically it asserts that Jack, in all of his floppy-haired glory, never even existed.
*pause for dramatic effect*
According to the theory, Rose merely fabricates her on-ship boyfriend as a way to cope with her horrible life. Before your eyes are all the way rolled, let’s break it down really quickly:
When Rose (Kate Winslet) and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) first meet, she’s about to take her life by jumping off the bow of the Titanic because of how distraught she is over the thought of marrying her controlling, upper-class fiancé, Cal (Billy Zane). Luckily Jack appears at just the right time and convinces her to come back over the railing instead of drowning in the icy water below. Is it a case of serendipitous timing, or merely the vivid hallucination of a woman suffering a psychotic break? According to the theory, Rose feels her life is completely out of her own control as a young, powerless woman at the turn of the 20th century, and she dreams up Jack as a way to help her be more self-assured and assertive. In the scene where he saves her from suicide, he even says the words, “You’re gonna die if you don’t break free.”
That part of the theory is supported by the fact that one of the researchers in the present-day timeline tells 101-year-old Rose that “We never found anything on Jack. There’s no record of him at all.” She responds somewhat cryptically, saying, “No, there wouldn’t be, would there? He exists now only in my memory.” Since Jack won his ticket aboard the Titanic from someone else in a poker game, it would make sense that his name wouldn’t be on the manifest and no official record of him would exist on the ship. Then again, it does help to explain the whole door debacle.
You see, when Jack dies and sinks into the ocean, leaving Rose all alone on the door, it symbolizes that Rose is now a totally independent woman. When she’s saved, she takes on a new identity, Rose Dawson, and is free from Cal’s influence. She no longer needs the imaginary Jack because her mental state has returned to normal, so her brain comes up with a way for her to say goodbye to the manifestation (by forcing him to freeze to death and/or drown, apparently). That’s why Rose doesn’t move over for Jack on the door, even though there’s plenty of room for him — he doesn’t really exist, y’all.
Obviously, like the Titanic, there are holes in this theory. Who drew the naked sketch of Rose? And who did she get it on with in that car if Jack wasn’t around? Sure, she might’ve drawn the portrait herself (they had mirrors back in 1912, right?), and technically she could’ve been having a passionate moment alone in that car (more power to you, Rose). Clearly there’s a lot about the movie we’ll never know, but I think we can all agree that — real or fantasy — JACK DAWSON DESERVED BETTER.