Captain Beatty is the novel's antagonist and is the foil to Montag's character in Fahrenheit 451. There are several scenes throughout the novel that depict Beatty antagonizing, criticizing, and intimidating Montag. Towards the beginning of the novel, the firemen are sitting around a table playing cards. Montag asks what happened to the man whose library they set on fire. Beatty tells him they took the man to an asylum and says,
"Any man's insane who thinks he can fool the government and us." (Bradbury 31)
Beatty's comment conveys his confidence in the government which contrasts greatly with Montag's political views. Montag does not trust the government and becomes an enemy of the state by the end of the novel.
When the firemen are called to destroy a woman's book collection, they are surprised to find out that she is home when they arrive. The woman refuses to leave her books and is willing to die with them. Beatty comments,
"We're due back at the House. Besides, these fanatics always try suicide; the pattern's familiar." (Bradbury 36)
Beatty's attitude is dismissive and impatient with the woman. Montag has the opposite response, and he attempts to save the woman. Montag is sensitive and understanding. He tries to convince her to leave her books behind.
Later on in the novel, Captain Beatty visits Montag's home. Montag has recently stolen a book and is trying to avoid Beatty. Beatty explains why books were censured, and the reason intellectuals were cast out of society. He makes the comment,
"A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it." (Bradbury 56)
Again, Beatty's views on censorship contrast with how Montag feels about them. Montag is curious to read books, and the last thing he wants to do is burn them.
After Mildred calls the fire station and reports Montag for having books, Beatty confronts Montag and makes him burn his own house. Beatty expresses his affinity for fire and explains why it's convenient. Beatty says,
"A problem gets too burdensome, then into the furnace with it. Now, Montag, you're a burden. And fire will lift you off my shoulders, clean, quick, sure; nothing to rot later. Antibiotic, aesthetic, practical." (Bradbury 109)
His comments also express how he views Montag. Beatty's character views Montag as a problem that needs to be dealt with.
Right before Montag sprays the flame-thrower at Beatty, Beatty criticizes Montag for his choices. He says,
"Montag, you idiot, Montag, you damn fool; why did you really do it?" (Bradbury 112)
Beatty not only has a negative view of Montag, but he does not understand Montag's choices.