Who is Beatty in Farhenheit 451?
Beatty is the captain of the firefighters, the one who advocates the burning of books. His character is the ultimate of hypocrites, for he uses quotations from famous pieces of literature to justify his (pardon the expression!) inflammatory position.
An example of Beatty using literature is when he says, "Who are a little wise, the best fools be."
In this instance, the captain is quoting the poet John Donne and his poem, "The Triple Fool," which concludes,
To love and grief tribute of verse belongs,
But not of such as pleases when 'tis read.
Both are increasèd by such songs,
For both their triumphs so are published,
And I, which was two fools, do so grow three.
Who are a little wise, the best fools be.
Of course, the use of Donne and numerous others by Beatty is ironic. He no more recognizes himself as a fool than he realizes the value in the books he sets aflame.
Beatty is Captain Beatty, Montag's captain in the firehouse. Beatty is an avid book burner, but he has a in-depth knowledge of literature, suggesting much complexity to his character. Although he shows sympathy to Montag in the search for understanding, he is ultimately devious and cunning, and a man who relishes instant gratification. His tone can switch quickly from being sarcastic and cold to bitter and passionate. He represents the ability of the new society to strip intelligent men of their humanity.