Evolutionists in Inherit the Wind

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Evolutionists in Inherit the Wind

Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, written in 1955, is an exceptional play that depicts the events of the Scopes Trial in 1925. The Scopes Trial or “Monkey Trial” was held in Dayton, Tennessee. Previous to the trial, the Butler Act was passed in Tennessee to ban the teaching of evolution. In an attempt to test the law, high school teacher John Scopes taught the theory of evolution to his class. After violating the act, Scopes was taken to jail where he waited for a trial to be held. Clarence Darrow would later represent him in the trial against William Jennings Bryan on the prosecution. Inherit the Wind uses the Scopes Trial as a basis for the play by comparing the views of fundamentalists and evolutionists. In the play, the fundamentalists include the townspeople, Matthew Harrison Brady (William Jennings Bryan), and Reverend Brown. They represent the “backwards” ways of the town of Hillsboro where the play takes place. The evolutionists in the play include Bert Cates (John Scopes), Henry Drummond (Clarence Darrow), and E.K. Hornbeck. In Inherit the Wind the evolutionists are cast in a more favorable light because of their intelligence level versus that of the fundamentalists, the ideas presented by the defense in the trial, and the stylistic devices used throughout the play. In Inherit the Wind, the audience is more apt to cheer for the evolutionists because of their level of intelligence as opposed to that of fundamentalists. The two evolutionists that present the most intelligence include E.K Hornbeck and Henry Drummond. Hornbeck is presented in Act 1, Scene 1 as an atheist newspaper reporter with a sarcastic tone. Although he is sarcastic, his attitude is represented in a humorous light. This allows the audience to favor Hornbeck and his humorous remarks, and compare his intelligence level with that of the townspeople. For example, Elijah (townsperson and “holy man”) asks Hornbeck if he is an...
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