Inherit The Wind Freedom To Think

2507 words - 10 pages


     Inherit the Wind, based on the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial” in the small town Dayton, Tennessee, was written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. The play was not intended to depict the actual history or the proceedings in the Scopes’ trial but it was used as a vehicle for exploring social anxiety and ant-intellectualism that existed in the Americas during the1950s. Lawrence and Lee wrote the play as a response to the threat to intellectual freedom presented by the anti-Communist hysteria of the McCarthy era. The major themes depicted in the Inherit the Wind include the intellectual curiosity, narrow-mindedness or limited perception, the importance of religion, and the relationship between the perception of others and self-worth portrayed by the characters in the play. The characters include Henry Drummond, Matthew Harrison Brady, E.K Hornbeck, Bert Cates and Rachel Brown; they represented the ideas and ways of thinking that existed then and now.
     Inherit the Wind took place in the small town of Hillsboro in which ‘the time was not too long ago.’ Bert Cates, a young teacher, who is imprisoned in the jail for teaching evolution to his high school biology class. The Reverend’s daughter and Cate’s fiancée, Rachel, urges Cates to tell the town what he did was wrong and he is sorry; however, the town firmly believes that Cates is wrong and awaiting for Matthew Harrison Brady to come to town to prosecute Cates. Brady is a three time presidential candidate and firm believer in the Bible. The town hung a banner “Read your Bible” on courthouse and paraded the streets enthusiastically singing “Give me that old-time religion” when Brady arrives into town. Also arriving in Hillsboro, is E.K Hornbeck of the Baltimore Herald, who is cynical reporter and comments on everything. Hornbeck informs Brady that he will be arguing against Henry Drummond in court. The town sees Drummond as the devils advocate. Drummond arrives in town with little notice and is shunned by the people in town. In the course of the trial, Brady starts out confidently and chooses witnesses who profess strong religious belief. Brady calls for Rachel to be on the witness stand and twists her words about what Cates has told her. Meanwhile, the judge excludes all Drummond’s scientific witness on the grounds of evolution itself is not on trial. Drummond calls Brady to the witness stand and reveals Brady’s literal acceptance of the Bible and presentation of himself as a prophet. The jury brings a guilty verdict and the judge charges Cates a fee of $100 dollars. Brady collapses and shortly afterward dies. Rachel and Cates decide to leave the town together. The play ends with Drummond alone in the courthouse with a copy of Darwin’s Origins of Species and Bible, which he puts them together in his briefcase.
     The essential theme expressed in Inherit the Wind is narrow mindedness vs. intellectual curiosity. As...

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