This page contains a theoretical analysis of the character Fidget from The Great Mouse Detective. Note, this is NOT part of The Fidget Connections or The Fidget Descendants Canon and must not be compared to them in any way, shape, or form. To follow the canons, visit The Fidget Connections, The Fidget Descendants, and The Fidget Library pages. This page is a description Fidget's background and how he came about, based on research. If you have any further questions, please email The Princess
So what was Glen Keane thinking when he designed Fidget? Why did he choose a bat to be Professor Ratigan's henchman rather than a rat or another mouse? And why did he decide to make Ratigan's sidekick severely disabled with occasional mind-slips (like losing the list, enabling Basil to discover their hideout too easily)? For Professor Ratigan's character, Keane designed him with the intent of making the audience feel pity for him, similar to characters like Norman Bates from Robert Bloch's Psycho and Erik, the Phantom from Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera. For one thing, Ratigan greatly disliked being called a rat, even though that was what he is, indicating that rats were outcasts in mousedom society. In the film, almost every character is a mouse, being Disney's trademark animal in films, leaving no room for integration of any other animal species. So it's only safe to say that Fidget, being the only bat in the film, bears very similar struggles as Ratigan. Still, it doesn't answer the question why a bat was chosen to be Ratigan's sidekick rather than another rat ... or why Ratigan has hencemice rather than hencerats. After all, films like The Secret of NIMH show an apparent segregation between mice and rats. Well, according to research, studies have shown rats to be very prosocial, meaning "voluntary behavior intended to benefit another," yet they are notorious for being carriers of disease, such as the bubonic plague during the Middle Ages. In popular culture, the perception of rats doesn't deviate from scientific research. Bats, on the other hand, fall into two polar opposites in popular culture: very anti-social or collectivistic to a point where one cannot function without a group. The anti-social perception is often associated with witchcraft, vampirism, maniacal tendencies, and blatant stupidity. The collectivistic perception touches upon a bat's natural shyness and dependency on the colony, yet both sides of these perceptions touch upon only a fraction of a bat's full potential. If bats in real life were as politically engaged as human beings, they would greatly struggle to overcome controversies and false narratives just to prove themselves worthy. With all that said, what does this have to do with Keane's decision to making Ratigan's sidekick a bat? Fidget, who happens to be the only bat in the film, is a product of these two polar opposites that popular culture has placed upon his shoulders. This explains why Fidget is a "maniacal little monster" as Basil describes him, yet he is undeniably cute and and is loyal to Ratigan at a great fault. Yet very little of Fidget's full capability as a bat, able to hear sounds from a distance with his large ears, able to soar the skies while Ratigan is grounded (the bat's disabilities will be discussed in a moment), and since he's as much of an outcast in mousedom as Ratigan is, able to not only empathize with the rat but make a great advisor and second-in-command (that is, if only Ratigan wouldn't make him run such stupid errands). Given that information by itself, it only made sense for Ratigan's sidekick to be a bat rather than another rat or a mouse.
Unfortunately, there is only major flaw that prevents Fidget from reaching his full capability ... and that is his disabilities, which are his crippled left wing and his peg-leg. So why did Keane decide on making him a crippled bat rather than an able-bodied bat? As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Fidget is as much an outcast of mousedom society as Ratigan is because of popular beliefs and misconceptions. But there is yet another reason why Fidget is an outcast and it all falls on the simple fact that he "cannot fly." Bats' ability to fly is the very heart and soul of their nature and absolutely impossible for them to live without it. But poor Fidget has been robbed of this ability, how this had happen is never explained in the film. How this misfortune has befallen Fidget falls under three possible assumptions: he was born this way, was stricken with a crippling disease at an early age, or was severely injured. One could possibly say that Fidget was born deformed, which would've made him an outcast not only among rodents, but other bats. No one would've accepted him for any legitimate job since jobs during the Victorian Age were designed only for those who were able-bodied (even with technological advances in the Victorian Age, it was still very limited). Therefore, he would've been left with no other choice but to work for Ratigan just to get by. This theory would naturally be very plausible as the quality of Victorian lifestyle benefited only the upper-middle class and very rich. But as mentioned before, being the only bat in Ratigan's circle and an outcast of society, Fidget would've made a great advisor and second-in-command only if these unfortunate handicaps did not exist. During the Diamond Jubilee scene where Ratigan makes his presence and proclaims some insane laws, such as "a heavy tax should be levied against all parasites and sponges, such as the elderly, the infirmed, and especially little children." That statement alone proves Ratigan to be of low character morale, making him less likely to consider taking in a disabled creature to be his sidekick in crime. With that said, the possibility of Fidget being born deformed does not fit. This leaves us to the second possibility, that Fidget was stricken with disease at a young age.
In the second paragraph, it was mentioned that one would benefit from the Victorian lifestyle only if that person belongs to the upper middle-class or the very rich. Mice in The Great Mouse Detective film dominated the population, ranking them in the higher social status group. Creatures like Ratigan and Fidget were considered very low status, so the availability of health care was very poor and very limited, if any options were available, the quality of foods to eat would've been poor, and education would've also been poor. Both Fidget and Ratigan, being outcasts of mousedom society, would've been prone to crippling diseases such as polio and diabetes. But if this were the case, wouldn't both parties been crippled? Ratigan is as healthy as can be, while Fidget is the one to endure such a cruel fate. One could argue the fact that Ratigan is a "criminal genius," and smarter than Fidget to not get himself sick. But going back to the fact that Ratigan would levy a tax on the elderly and the sick, why would he chose a crippling bat over an able-bodied one? One could also argue that eventually Ratigan does throw Fidget overboard because the bat "outlived his usefulness," but then why would he have bothered to hire Fidget to begin with? So the idea of Fidget being stricken with disease, although plausible, does not answer why he would've been hirable if jobs were only available for the able-bodied, upper middle-class, and very rich and would be of no benefit to Ratigan if he found such characters as useless to begin with. That leaves us to the third, final, and only assumption that best answers these questions. That is, Fidget's disabilities were the result of a very unfortunate accident, leaving him injured beyond repair. So in order for Fidget to have been hirable by Professor Ratigan, he would've had to be an able-bodied bat to begin with. And although the film never explains how Fidget had received these injuries, it is safe to imply that his bumbling nature is what got him injured to begin with. In the scene after Ratigan threatens Hiram Flaversham to finish the mechanical Queen Mousetoria, he entrusts a list of items to steal to Fidget with the warning of "no mistakes." And Ratigan is known to be a cruel tyrant not only to the innocent citizens of mousedom, but also to his own henchmen, having Bartholomew being fed to Felicia for calling him a "rat" and threatening the rest of his henchmen with the bell as positive proof. And how did Fidget avoid being executed or thrown out for so long just before his final scene where Ratigan throws him into the River Thames? Being Ratigan's closest henchman of them all, Fidget must possess qualities of being a second-in-command and/or advisor to convince Ratigan not to throw him out, that Fidget could still be useful in spite of his injuries. And the fact that Ratigan makes the implication that Fidget has made too many "mistakes" could only mean that Ratigan had hired the bat out of need because he was once flight-capable and could many things that Ratigan could not. Fidget's injuries were the result of a major mind-slip.
In the past, Disney films have had their collection of villainous sidekicks, all bumbling but loyal (even if it's to a fault), showing both a sinister side and a comical side. So how is Fidget different from any of the other villainous sidekicks in the past? For the most part, older Disney films either had human characters for these roles or more popularized animals. There were Mr. Smee from Peter Pan, Horace & Jasper from 101 Dalmatians filling in the human role, then there were the goons from Sleeping Beauty, Lucifer from Cinderella, Sir Hiss from Robin Hood, and Brutus & Nero from The Rescuers, filling in the animal role. The Great Mouse Detective was the very first Disney film to have featured a bat as one of the main bad guy characters. Not to mention that Fidget's character has never been replicated or recycled like Bill the Lizard, who was first introduced in Alice in Wonderland, only to be re-introduced in The Great Mouse Detective later on. The fact that Fidget stands out in the Disney franchise makes him deserving of such popularity and even more so than was actually given. Sadly, in the GMD Press Kits and the Behind the Scenes on different DVD versions of the film, very little information on this character is provided. One would usually dismiss the matter and say, "Hey, it's just a character, only meant to be comic relief on the bad guy's side. So what?" Yes, he is a character designed for comic relief, and because he happens to be on the bad guy's side, it is naturally assumed that it's all the more laughable to see him kicked around, insulted, and all the anger you can lash out at him on a bad day (and say all the bad words you could not in the real world). But if you look at American Hollywood history and read the life stories of these so-called comedians and comediennes, you notice that in spite of making the world laugh, they all have one thing in common: They live or have lived harsh and tragic lives. One good look at the Fidget, and you can tell right off the bat (pun intended) that he is a character who has lived a harsh and tragic lifestyle. As previously mentioned under the "Why a bat as a sidekick" header, Fidget has been severely injured as a result of one of his mind-slips, scratching off the possibilities of born deformities and disease stricken off the list. But what other indicators make it so obvious that Fidget is indeed a character to be pitied? The best way to start off is basic aesthetics 101 ... the color palette.
Fidget's character design consists of five colors: yellow, red, purple, gray, and black. Out of the five colors, our main emphasis will be on three of them, yellow, red, and purple. The color yellow, used for Fidget's eyes, is a common symbol for deceit, cowardice, betrayal, jealousy, covetous, illness and hazard. All these elements are the embodiment of a character with low morale status, indicating that Fidget may be capable of back-stabbing Ratigan if he desired to do so, and probably a very legitimate reason for Ratigan not to full trust him. After all, if Fidget could deceive an innocent little girl like Olivia with a baby bonnet as a disguise, why not a grown rat? Maybe that's why Fidget was thrown overboard? But instead, Fidget is shown to be loyal to a fault. Just before Ratigan punishes Fidget for dropping the list, enabling Basil to use it as evidence, Ratigan becomes unusually calm, leading poor Fidget under a false sense of security into thinking that Ratigan would simply forgive and forget. And since we know that Fidget, although he is not 100% healthy, has not been stricken with disease. After all, he seemed pretty strong to take on Hiram Flaversham for being disabled. A person stricken with disease wouldn't have the strength to lift a finger. Cowardice is a great indicator of Fidget's pitiful lifestyle since he obviously doesn't have the guts to leave his boss who obviously treats him like dirt. Fidget's occasional mind-slips, such as dropping his hat and list, do indeed make him hazardous, most of the time to himself more than to anyone else around him. As far as jealousy and covetous, not much is shown in his actions that reflect these personality traits. However one can easily say that Fidget greatly fears losing his standing with Ratigan as he constantly aims to please his boss (or thinks he can change his boss), which is an aspect of jealousy. Jealousy by dictionary definition is "fear of losing something," different from envious or covetous, which is defined as "wanting or desiring what someone else has." In regards to envy/coveting, one can easily say without need of proof that Fidget envies the warm and loving relationship between Hiram Flaversham and his daughter, Olivia. If one had a boss/guardian who constantly punishes him/her for every little misstep or mind-slip and then sees a loving father and daughter spend quality time together where punishment does not exist, wouldn't he/she be a little envious? After all, Fidget wasn't very nice in taking away her father from her on her "very best birthday," not to mention kidnapping her then bringing her to her father, only to hold her back from visiting her father. Can you blame Olivia Flaversham for stomping on his only foot? It's also easy to believe that Fidget secretly wants his ability to fly back, thus he envies flight-capable bats. Did Ratigan ever think to ask Fidget if he considered the idea of getting surgery on his crippled wing? Has Ratigan or anyone ever asked what ever happened to Fidget's parents, or if he ever gets lonely being by himself? Overall, it is no doubt that Fidget is a highly insecure character. The eyes never lie.
The next color is red, as in the red rims around his eyes. As everyone knowns, red is the color associated with emotions, especially the extremes such as danger, aggression, power, violence, war, and excitement. And who would dare to contradict the fact that Fidget is easily excitable? If you listen to how Fidget speaks, he talks in a fast-paced manner and is very expressive in his body language when he is passionate or excited about something. Of course, one would argue and say that's just because Candy Candido's voice was sped up so that Fidget's voice wouldn't sound too low. What a lot of people don't know is that Candy Candido had a four-octave vocal range. Although he was generally a baritone/bass in both his singing and talking voice, he actually had the ability to go a high octave range, as demonstrated in Jimmy Durante's song "Cecelia." So speeding up Candido's voice wouldn't have really been necessary, but hey! Disney was on a tight budget and tight time-frame, right? The other five traits, danger, aggression, war, violence, and danger require no further explanation needed. The fight between Fidget and Hiram in the beginning is blatant enough to demonstrate his aggressive, dangerous, violent, and powerful side. It's also possible that Fidget may have some anger management issues, an example being when Olivia calls him an "ugly old thing" before Fidget throws her in the giant green bottle. Within that moment, you'll notice that he reacted with disdain in his expression after Olivia calls him "ugly." Although the film showed this in a mild-mannered portrayal, if Disney's company standards didn't have so many restrictions, Fidget's emotional side would've been emphasized a whole lot more. Besides, who would ever want to be called "ugly," even it if was true?
The next is the color purple, which is the color of Fidget's sweater and scarf (some web pages say it's blue, but it's actually purple). The color purple is often used to symbolize royalty, nobility, spirituality, ceremony, mysterious, transformation, wisdom, enlightenment, cruelty, honor, arrogance, mourning, and temperance. As for the arrogance, cruelty, and temperance aspects, purple is a mixture of red and blue together, both polar opposites of each other and a reflection of Fidget's double-sided personality. However, it is easy to focus on the obvious traits, yet overlook the subtle signs. For example, purple was once used as a symbol of royalty and nobility for monarchs, priests, and sometimes soldiers. Now we know that Fidget is not of royal blood, nor would he ever be priestly (it's not in his nature), but when he dons on the yeoman disguise, although it's not purple, it's possible to imagine Fidget being able to hold a position of nobility (if he weren't too much under Ratigan's influence, that is). Which leaves us to honor, mysterious, transformation, wisdom, and enlightenment. Fidget displays a high level of honor toward his boss, Professor Ratigan, even though he doesn't receive the same honor back in return. He may have a habit of making mistakes, but he never sways from his boss's orders, totally opposite of idea that the yellow in his eyes might imply tendencies of deceit and betrayal. And who could deny that Fidget is a very mysterious character indeed? There's just so much mystery that surrounds him, so many unanswered questions, and that's what makes Fidget stand out among all other villainous sidekicks. As for the other two colors, gray and black, the gray symbolizes "intelligence" and "modesty," indicating that Fidget is actually very smart in spite of his mistakes, an example being when he distracts Basil and Dawson in the Toy Store chase scene, showing that he is quick on his feet (or one foot in this case). He also displays his intelligence when luring Basil and Dawson to follow him to Ratigan's Lair in order to trap them. One can argue that it was Ratigan's idea, but that idea would've never worked if Fidget had not put this plan into action. But you would never hear him boast about how smart or genius he is compared to his boss. After all, he's far too modest to do so. And the black of his trousers symbolizes depth and sexuality. Remember in the Rat Trap scene where Fidget is distracted by Miss Kitty's blatantly sexy performance to the point of getting his peg-leg caught in the hole of the wooden floor? How about near the beginning when he laughs in his sleep? Most likely dreaming about a sexy woman having her way with him. And despite Olivia calling the bat "ugly" in one scene, Fidget was made to be as adorable as he is scary by Glen Keane himself. And he's more leaner and fit than his boss, so ... why not, ladies? He's single, and he's straight! And if he gets too egotistical, just slap him! ^___^
As all devoted Great Mouse Detective fans know, the film is based on two books: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, and Eve Titus's Basil of Baker Street. In the credits at the end of the film, it is indicated that it's based upon Titus's Basil of Baker Street book series, but it also has just as much of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes influence as it does Titus's book series. Unfortunately, Fidget is a character made solely by Disney and does not appear in the Basil of Baker Street canon. And there's no character like him in Doyle's Sherlock Holmes books either ... Or IS there? That's right! Fidget is not only based on one character from the series, but three. They are Sebastian Moran, Jonathan Small, and Tonga. But which one of them reflects Fidget's character best? Let's look at each individual character and see what traces of Fidget's character we can find, starting with the first: Colonel Sebastian Moran.
According to a description in The Return of Sherlock Holmes in the first chapter "The Adventure of the Empty House," Sebastian Moran was educated at Eton College and the University of Oxford before embarking on a military career. He was also a devoted sportsman and highly skilled shot, wrote a few books of his own, and served as Professor Moriarty's second-in-command. Remember in the first paragraph of "Why a bat for a sidekick?" where Fidget would've made a great second-in-command to Ratigan? It comes from Colonel Sebastian Moran. Moran is also said to have killed a man named Ronald Adair for fear that he would expose Moran because he "won a card game by cheating." Although we never see Fidget engage in any card games in the film, we do know he likes to hang out at The Rat Trap a lot, and probably for more than just getting a drink of Rodent's Delight. So one can imagine very easily that Fidget loves to play cards ... and since the yellow in his eyes mentioned earlier can imply deceit, wouldn't it be possible that Fidget wins card games by cheating? And like the film leaves Fidget's past unexplained, Holmes himself once said that it is unknown where "Moran went wrong," only that he killed a man. But as much as there are similarities between Fidget and Moran, there are also differences. Fidget has a crippled wing and peg-leg, Colonel Moran is able-bodied. Fidget is young (he did say that he was "too young to die" when Felicia was trying to eat him) whereas Colonel Moran is old. Not to mention that Moran went to college, Fidget has not, even though both are smart in their own rights. With all that said, the other two characters left are Jonathan Small and Tonga, both from Doyle's book, The Sign of the Four. It is here where we find the source of Fidget's peg-leg in the character Jonathan Small. Small was once a soldier of Third Buffs in India and lost his right leg in a swimming accident to a crocodile. Although it is highly unlikely for Fidget to have run into any crocodiles, it is highly probable that his right leg could've been bitten off by Felicia in an accident while trying to feed her (similar to how Captain Hook from Peter Pan has his hand cut off and fed to the crocodile). Both Fidget and Small get involved in stealing, Fidget with the "tools, gears, uniforms ..." on Ratigan's list and Small with the treasure from Bartholomew's grasp. Small is a solider, and Fidget, though not baring the title of soldier, possesses soldier-like values (even though these values are used for the wrong reasons). However the similarities between these two ends there. That leaves one other character that best fits Fidget's persona ... and that is the islander, Tonga. Tonga is a character known for brute strength and responsible for killing Bartholomew in The Sign of the Four, Fidget also has this brute strength which he uses to fight Hiram Flaversham in the beginning of the film. Tonga is silent, having no lines of his own in the book, Fidget for the most part is silent throughout the film, with the exception of a few lines (though they are limited in comparison with the other characters). Tonga is at first pitied by Small when found injured, Fidget is shown to be already injured and a pitiful sight, the injuries assumed to be the result of an accident. And both Tonga and Fidget meet very the same tragic fates. Tonga accidentally gets his ankle caught in a rope and fall overboard from the boat. Since Tonga does not know how to swim, he eventually drowns. Fidget, on the other hand, is thrown overboard by Ratigan after Ratigan decides he has outlived his usefulness. Since Fidget cannot fly (and bats are not known to be good swimmers), Fidget drowns and is presumed dead as he is never seen again throughout the remainder of the film.
Now that Fidget's convoluted history has been explored, what can we come away with all this? Well, Fidget is the first and only evil sidekick throughout the history of Disney animated films to have made us to look at evil sidekicks in a whole new light. Before the appearance of Fidget, never has any bad sidekick sparked so much curiosity from many viewers, whether he is loved and embraced or thoroughly hated with a vengeance. It is ashamed how such a character that is so mysterious, receiving more praise from fandom than jeers, can be so overlooked and under appreciated. Fidget is a character that deserves more than what he was given by Disney, which is why there are many GMD fans out there who have brought out Fidget's full potential through fan fiction, fan art, pastiches, parodies ... and an occasional poem or two. If Fidget's voice actor, Candy Candido, were still alive to this day, he would've been honored at how much adoration his final voiceover character has received. And a personal note to the character Fidget himself, rest assured that you are truly admired and respected, much more that Professor Ratigan ever has shown to you. You may have been thrown overboard in the film, but our fandom has brought you back to life and has given you another chance. Let us all "Lighten the Load" of our past demons and strifes. Then and only then we can all reach our full potential and step into the light.
* All properties of Fidget & The Great Mouse Detective are copyright 1986 by Walt Disney Productions. *All characters in The Fidget Connections are copyright 2002-2017 by Reyelene. *All songs in The Fidget Gramophone are copyrights of the artists stated.
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