Rosa Dartle is an orphaned relation of James Steerforth; after the death of Rosa's parents, Mrs. Steerforth engaged her as a companion. Rosa and Steerforth therefore grew up together and at one point were sweethearts—according to Rosa, she was the object of Steerforth's "truest" love. Unfortunately, Steerforth's spoiled upbringing and consequent selfishness ruined any possibility of a lasting relationship between the two. Although Rosa continued to love Steerforth exclusively and obsessively, Steerforth flirted with Rosa as a way of passing the time between what is implied to be a string of lovers. These experiences permanently twist Rosa's character, turning her into a bitter, sarcastic, and angry woman who vents her frustrations on those she sees as responsible for her own misery—most notably, little Em'ly and Mrs. Steerforth. Rosa's warped personality is echoed in her physical appearance; she bears a scar on her face from a time when Steerforth lost his temper and threw a hammer at her.