STEAL analysis of Captain Beatty in Fahrenheit 451.
When Montag begins to question things, Beatty is immediately suspicious and plays mind games with Montag. He is successful at making Montag feel anxious and guilty. Beatty plays the role of the oppressive authority quite well. But Beatty is also a hypocrite. He stresses the danger of literature, but he is able to quote classic works with ease. He even uses his literary knowledge to make his points that society is better off without literature.
Much or most of what we know of Beatty's thoughts come from his speech. Beatty has an extensive knowledge of the history of firemen and the history of literature. Oddly, he uses his literary knowledge to support his position as the Chief in charge of book burning. Beatty is a more complex character than he appears. There may be a conflict in Beatty's mind. He has all of this literary knowledge, but he uses it against itself. Also, in the end when Montag kills him, Montag thinks Beatty had wanted to die. This lends credence to the idea that Beatty was conflicted.
Effects on Others
Beatty's most noticeable effect is on Montag himself. He has an authorial, domineering influence on Montag. At one time he was his friend, but as Montag begins to learn, Beatty becomes more of an enemy. One of the most striking events in the novel is when the woman chooses to burn with her books and Beatty carries this execution out. This deeply affects Montag and adds to his skepticism about the entire culture of book burning.
Beatty might be conflicted in his mind, but his actions illustrate his dedication to being the Chief Burner. He is even willing to let the woman burn alive with her books. He understands that there is a potential for any fireman or citizen to be curious about literature. So, he gives Montag a pass when Montag takes a book, but he does send the Mechanical Hound to instill some fear. His only action that seems to betray his loyalty to the culture of book burning is in the end when he dies. Montag thinks that Beatty had wanted to die. If this is true, this complicates Beatty's worldview, making him a much more complex character than he is at a glance.
There are a few examples where Beatty appears like a statue, almost like the Mechanical Hound. "Beatty stood there looking at him steadily with his eyes, while his mouth opened and began to laugh, very softly." And just before Beatty accuses Montag of guilt, "Beatty was looking at him as if he were a museum statue. At any moment, Beatty might rise and walk about him, touching, exploring his guilt and self-consciousness." Beatty is very effective in asserting his authority over others. He is also excellent in making others feel anxious and guilty. This comes from his position as fire chief but it also has to do with his commanding presence and domineering gazes and expressions.