Theme Of Captain Beatty In Fahrenheit 451

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How Captain Beatty of Fahrenheit 451 Illustrates
“The Mindset of Those Who Censor”

Persis Karim said in The New Assault on Libraries, "Obviously, the danger is not in the actual act of reading itself, but rather, the possibility that the texts children read will incite questions, introduce novel ideas, and provoke critical inquiry." Set in the 24th century, Ray Bradbury’s book, Fahrenheit 451, depicts a society in which books have been outlawed by a government fearing an independent-thinking public. Enforcing this law through incineration of book material, homes, and even book owners is the duty of firemen, such as the Chief Captain Beatty, whose insidious personality makes him the quintessence of an antagonist. However, his contradictions
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For example, when an old woman, whose house was being incinerated for keeping books, stays inside, she shouts out “Play the man, Master Ridley!” (pp. 40), originally said by a man condemned to being burned at the stake for heresy in 1555. Beatty understood this quote to the extent that he knew who and when it was said. The numerous books Beatty read had been written by a variety of authors with different and sometimes opposing thoughts and opinions. Considering the society in Fahrenheit 451 is centered about conformation, Beatty is violently averse to the thought of having conflicting vantage points. Beatty even explains to Montag, a fireman with growing inquiry, about “what traitors books can be” in attempts to deter him from reading. By traitors, Beatty means to express his coming away lost due to authors “all of them running about, putting out the stars and extinguishing the sun.” He argues that rather than challenging people with discovering truth themselves, it is in their best interest to not “give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.” Rather, “Any man who can take a TV wall apart and put it back together again, and most men can nowadays, is happier than any man who tries to slide rule,…show more content…
Despite being initiated by the people within the society, the government took advantage of its insecure people who lended them enough allowance to enforce censorship themselves. Originally being what the public wanted, the extensive measures by those such as the firemen, were disguised as peace. Referring to firemen, “They were given the new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior: official censors, judges, and executors.” Beatty explains, "Colored people don 't like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don 't feel good about Uncle Tom 's Cabin. Burn it. Someone 's written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Bum the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag.” Fire, a dangerous tool the firemen use to control public activity, symbolizes peace to some, as it cleanses their society of what they’ve considered more dangerous than the act of destroying property and people. Montag burning Beatty to death being the most obvious example of fire being powerful within the book, yet “Fire is bright and fire is clean” (pp. 59) As Michel Foucault says, “Freedom of conscience entails more dangers than authority and despotism.” Besides enforcing censorship through incineration, the government also enacted ways of preventing an ability to desire further knowledge. After all, a naïveté enough group of people don’t warrant much physical power when being used for their ignorance.
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