What is Beatty's contribution to the story of Fahrenheit 451?

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Beatty is a complicated figure. Depending upon one's interpretation and chosen focus, Beatty can be seen as fulfilling a variety of roles, some of them contradictory, but most of them are antagonistic. Beatty essentially acts as the representative of society, its most authoritative advocate, and the only "villain" that Montag can act directly against.

Some of Beatty's roles include:

  • Guide: Beatty appears to be earnestly interested in acting as a sort of mentor figure for Montag, considering that he knows many of Montag's thoughts and plans ahead of time, and was once in Montag's position regarding curiosity about books. He confides a considerable amount of his own past and the nature of their society in an effort to bring Montag willingly into compliance.
  • "Serpent": Beatty can also be seen as a character akin to the satanic serpent in the Garden of Eden story, tempting Montag to give in to something that his conscience speaks against.
  • Fallen Hero/Antihero: While Beatty may have once been like Montag, he chose to conform to the expectations of society, and so represents a more potent force for Montag to overcome. Beatty has power and authority as a representative of social authority, but also as a reflection of Montag; he is a more potent nemesis because the two characters are separated by very little in terms of their choices.

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