Inherit the Wind Essay

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Inherit the Wind
“Here in Hillsboro we are fighting the fight of the Faithful through-out the world!” (53) Inherit the Wind is the epic legal drama, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, of a controversial subject: creationism versus Darwinism. Hillsboro is extremely determined to defend creationism. Though fictional, Inherit the Wind is based on the Scopes Trial, which occurred in July of 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee. The play was published in 1957, a period of time where people, especially those of Hillsboro, the small town in which the play is set, were only allowed to teach the theory of creationism; teaching evolution was against the law. The people of the town were extremely religious. To not believe in the bible or attend church would result in being shunned by Hillsboro. In Inherit the Wind, the attitude of Hillsboro subtly changes throughout the course of the trial of the young schoolteacher who purposely broke the law. The town reflects the fiercely religious and biased views collectively shared by its people, such that it becomes an important character in itself. The changes in the town’s attitude are small, evident by certain individuals within the town learning to open their minds and accept the theory of evolution.

Before the trial of Bert Cates, the attitude of the town is reflected by its behavior towards Bert Cates, Henry Drummond, and Matthew Harrison Brady. Bert Cates is a schoolteacher who was imprisoned for teaching evolution to his class, something Hillsboro considers to be very wrong. Rachel Brown is the daughter of the Reverend, and though she tries to defy her father and his views, even she sides with Hillsboro and does not understand “why [he] can’t be on the right side of things” (8). The “right side” is Hillsboro’s side; the only “right” answer is in the bible. Because Hillsboro is so close-minded, it refuses to accept any other theories or opinions. It wants Cates to be found guilty. It considers him a criminal for what he did; therefore, the bias against him is clear before the trial even begins. In turn, Hillsboro is equally unhappy with the defense attorney, Henry Drummond. Drummond is a renowned lawyer who is described as “the most agile legal mind of the Twentieth Century” (22). He has the ability to win the case, something Hillsboro assumed would not to be done. Reverend Brown calls him the “Devil” (25) because “[one] looks into his face, and [wonders] why God made such a man” (25). Given this description, Hillsboro assumes it to be true and treats him as though he is evil. Hillsboro thinks Drummond does not believe in God because he has won cases where the defendants were clearly guilty. Hillsboro knows that Drummond is an excellent lawyer, and with him defending Cates, the trial could have a remarkably different result from what Hillsboro was expecting. By calling him the “Devil”, Hillsboro is able to turn its people against Drummond. However, the attitude Hillsboro displays towards Matthew Harrison Brady is completely opposite. The famous lawyer is the lead prosecutor for the trial of Bert Cates. Hillsboro worships Brady; he is devoted to the bible, believing “all the answers to those questions are in the Bible” (34) and that evolution is nonsense. Hillsboro is overjoyed, and rather star struck to have him in town. All of Hillsboro gathers to welcome Brady with a feast and frequently sings, “It is good enough for Brady” (17). The difference with which Hillsboro treats Brady compared to Cates and Drummond is colossal. Everyone is completely taken in by his charm and presentation; each hang on every word he says. Before the trial begins, Brady already has Hillsboro on his side. With the negative attitude Hillsboro displays before the trial, how could Bert Cates stand a chance against their bias and closed minds? Throughout the trial of Bert Cates, the behavior and bias Hillsboro had previously displayed, remains, and escalates, to the point where even...
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