What are the four sociological concepts in Titanic?

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melnhough eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the film Titanic, the characters interact with a variety of social constructs which define who they are and how they fare. Four main sociological concepts that are central to the movie are social class divisions, racial strife, gender issues, and the conflicting roles each character acts in. 

The divisions in social class are paramount in the film. The passengers on the Titanic are sectioned off according to their class: those who are wealthy, like Rose and her fiancé Cal, are provided with state rooms full of grandeur. Meanwhile, Jack's third-class status leaves him in a room well below deck and shared with multiple other men. There is a strict division on the ship, and passengers of different classes are not meant to have dinner service together or even share the same lifeboats. Even among the wealthy class, there are divisions. One character who functions in this is Molly Brown, a newly-made woman whose husband struck gold in the western United States. The way in which she flaunts her new fortune make those with "old money," such as Rose's mother and Cal, look down on Mrs. Brown. Although she is in their social class on the ship, they do not accept her into their world.

As it notes the divisions in class, Titanic also notes the divisions in culture and race among the passengers. Those who do not speak English, or who are not from a strictly European nation, are treated as second-class citizens. It is seen in the film that those who cannot easily communicate meet their end during the sinking. This is evident in the Muslim family struggling to translate the sign to go up to the deck of the ship as well as in the man searching for his son, who cannot understand Rose and Jack's warning that rising water is coming.

Gender issues are also highly at play throughout the film. Rose is expected to marry the abusive Cal without a single protest. Her mother knows that this is the only way that they can save their family's affluence. Gender is further at play when the ship is sinking. Women and children are put into the lifeboats first, including Rose, who is forced against her will to momentarily abandon ship. Her bravery in risking herself to stay by Jack's side goes greatly against her role as dutiful daughter and fiancé.

This leads to the roles that each character plays in the film and how they break or maintain those roles. Rose's character begins by listening to her family's wishes, although it leads her to attempt suicide. She wants to fulfill her role of wife and daughter, of good woman. However, she leaves that role behind after falling in love with Jack. He fits the role of third-class passenger but is also a savior, even trying his hand at dressing in nice clothing and masquerading as an upper-class gentlemen. Molly Brown is another excellent example of breaking roles: she is expected to be attended by her husband, not to flaunt his money and her new wealth as she does. She does not fit into the role of true upper-class woman but is instead shunned for her ways.

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are various types of sociological concepts addressed in "Titanic". Four that most play a part in the movie are those concerning gender, social class and ethnic inequalities, and the question of "nature versus nurture".

Gender: Rose and her mother have been left destitute by her father's death. Their only hope for "survival" is to marry Rose to a wealthy husband. Her fiance, Cal, makes it quite clear that Rose is to reflect well on him, and that he is capable of violence towards her if she does not comply.

Social class: Titanic is so stratified that the third class passengers do not mingle with first, although the first class dogs come to their deck to defecate. When the boat is sinking, despite claims of "women and children first", third class passengers are kept locked below. 

Ethnicity: People who do not speak English--and speak it "properly"--are not treated well. There are no signs in any other languages to help the passengers navigate the ship. The Irish built the ship, but it is owned by the English.

Nature versus Nurture: When Jack attends the first class dinner party in a borrowed tux, Cal smirks that he "almost looks like a gentleman." It is assumed by some of the first class passengers that they deserve their money, despite the fact that most were born with it. The poor are looked down as simply for not having money; they are somehow suspect simply for being poor. The movie makes the point that Jack, poor man though he is, is a much better human than Cal.

You could make more connections with this movie to different types of sociological concepts.