Bitzer: Character Analysis in Hard Times

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His Physical Appearance Satirically Described

      Bitzer is introduced in the beginning of the novel, as the “colorless boy” who defines a horse in accordance with facts and it satisfies Mr. Gradgrind who had asked the question. He defines horse as: “Quadruped, Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth and twelve incisive... Hoofs hard, but require to be shed with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.” Very quickly he imbibes the factual instructions and also the utilitarian philosophy of the Gradgrind school. He is so “colorless” that he seems transparent without anything inside. The description of Bitzer’s appearance is satirically presented. One sentence is sufficient to present the satire: “His skin was so unwholesomely deficient in natural tinge, that he looked as though, if he were cut, he would bleed white”.

Bank Employee and a Spy

      After being graduate from the “model institution” of Gradgrind, Bitzer gets the job of a porter at the bank of Bounderby Except that he has to attend upon Mrs. Sparsit also who has shifted from Bounderb’s residence to the apartments of Bounderby’s bank building. He also holds “the respectable office of general spy and informer in the establishment”. For this kind of service he gets regular gifts on Christmas, more than his weekly wages.

Unsentimental and Callous to his Mother

      When Bitzer grows up he becomes extremely “clear headed, cautious, prudent” man who knows the skill to rise in the world. He lacks sentiments, emotions, passions, and all his actions are the outcome of most unemotional calculation. Mrs. Sparsit considers Bitzer to be a young man of steady principles. For example, he puts his widowed mother in the workhouse after the death of his father because he would not like to spoil her by keeping her with him and paying for her expenses. Somehow he sends his mother half a pound of tea during a year. Another instance is Bitzer’s firm opposition to getting married and rearing a family He cannot understand why other people, workmen and laborers get married, have families, and in this manner add to their economic responsibility According to him, the rational approach to life would expel marriage for those people whose economic sources are limited. He agrees to Mrs. Sparsit on the point that workers have no right to unite themselves against their employer. It is not their privilege to form a union and do anything against the wishes of employer. When Mrs. Sparsit asks him what the poor workers are doing, he replies, “Uniting, and leaguing, and engaging to stand by one another.”

Distinction between Tom and Bitzer

      Bitzer is an excellent product of Gradgrind’s model institution and he has developed skills of close observation and keen attention. He observes all the activities of Tom Grandgrind and concludes very perfectly about his villainous nature. He says to Mrs. Sparsit that Tom is a dispersed personality. He is an extravagant idler who is entirely untrustworthy He would not be able to continue his job if he were not the brother of Bounderby’s wife. He describes Tom as being extravagant and spendthrift. Further, he makes a contrast between himself and Tom that he himself knows habits of many economies He does not spend the gratuity that he receives at Christnias. Moreover; he does not even spend the whole amount of his salary He does not require any recreations because it would demand an undue expenditure. Bitzer is sensible enough to oppose gambling because “the chances are against the players.”

Prime Motive: Self Interest

      Bitzer comes on the scene again when Tom is about to be shifted to some foreign place and preperations are made by Gradgrind to transfer Tom to Liverpool in order to board a ship sailing to some foreign country Bitzer arrives in time to catch hold of Tom. He has always suspected that Tom is a guilty in the case of bank robbery. Bitzer’s has some selfish motive in catching hold of Tom and taking him back to Coketown. He wants to win the favor of Bounderby and to get Tom’s job and post as a reward for this great service rendered to his master. He admits to Gradgrind that his motive is his self-interest behind catching hold of Tom. When Gradgrind requests him earnestly to let Tom go away Bitzer reminds him that “the whole social system is a question’ of self-interest. He has learned this lesson from Gradgrind’s own model school. He clearly denies to accept any compensation or bribe in order to let Tom go away because according to his calculations, he would get more when he presents Tom in front of Bounderby When Gradgrind tells him that in his school Bitzer had got education, Bitzer replies that he has paid for that. His schooling was give and take kind of matter. Thus he remains adamant and furious though Gradgrind tries his best to entreat him.

An Example of Utilitarian Philosophy

      Though Bitzer’s role is very minor in the plot of the novel but his role is very vital in the structure of complete novel. He serves as the most remarkable example of the kind of educational theory Gradgrind is used to preach. He is among one of the finest pupils of Gradgrind’s model institution. But he is no longer a human being but a machine devoid of all passions, sentiments and feelings. He believes firmly in reason and calculation. All his activities are governed by reason and calculation. He symbolizes utilitarianism at its extreme. When Thomas Gradgrind tells Bitzer that he had got his education in his school, Bitzer’s reply is very appropriate to the theme of utilitarianism. Here Dickens makes us recall that “it was a fundamental principle of the Gradgrind philosophy that everything was to be paid for. Gratitude was to bornbolished, and the virtues springing from it were not to be”. Like Louisa and Tom, Bitzer is a pupil of Gradgrind’s school. But his principle of education brings misery to his family only.

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