(Critical Analysis of character, form, structure, language and context)
Bitzer – a satirical and ironical portrait
He has a very ‘business-like and logical manner’ (3 viii), recognising ‘that the whole social system is a question of self interest’ (3 viii), thereby being a satirical instrument for the severest critique on society of the time. Rather in the way of the two ostlers in ‘Dr Faustus’ showing that moral contamination spreads down to the lower levels of society, Bitzer is characterised as having taken on Gradgrind’s corrupt moral philosophy which has the ‘fundamental principle’ that ‘everything was to be paid for’ and ‘gratitude was to be abolished’ (3 viii).
In the schoolroom, he ‘caught the end’ of the sunbeam that symbolically further drew out his ‘little colour’ – this imagery is used as a structural contrast with Sissy who is antithetically ‘irradiated’ as she ‘came in for the beginning of a sunbeam.
Bitzer identifies the physiological nature of a horse as ‘Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth and twelve incisive.’ (1ii). His attitude is contrasted with that of the circus and, later, Sleary’s declaration that the ‘people must be amused’. He, however, wants neither recreations’ (2i) nor a ‘wife and family’ (2i).
He is later employed as a light porter but also is ironically said to ‘hold the respectable office of spy and general informer’ (2i). He is expected to ‘rise in the world’ because ‘his mind was so exactly regulated, that he had no affectations or passions.’ (2i). Not only does Gradgrind despairingly discover this when he says, ‘Bitzer … have you a heart?’ (3viii) – where presumably Dickens intends the reader to put the emphasis on the word ‘have’ – but also his mother suffers from this ‘young economist[‘s]’ actions when she is ‘shut up in the workhouse’ (2i). Bitzer rises to take Tom’s place and subsequently has a long career of: ‘quibble, plunder, false pretences, vile example, little service and much law.’ (3ix)