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definition - Inherit_the_Wind_(play)

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Inherit the Wind (play)

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Inherit the Wind
Written byJerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee,
CharactersHenry Drummond, Matthew Harrison Brady, E. K. Hornbeck, Bertram T. Cates, Rachel Brown, Rev. Jeremiah Brown

Inherit the Wind is a play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee. The play, which debuted in 1955, is a parable that fictionalizes the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" Trial as a means to discuss the then-contemporary McCarthy trials.[1]



Inherit the Wind is a fictionalized account of the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" Trial, which resulted in John T. Scopes's conviction for teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to a high school science class, contrary to a Tennessee state law that prohibited the teaching of evolution. The fictional characters Matthew Harrison Brady, Henry Drummond, Bertram Cates and E. K. Hornbeck correspond to the historical figures of William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow, John Scopes, and H. L. Mencken, respectively. However, the playwrights state in a note at the opening of the play that it is not meant to be an historical account.[2] Their intent was to criticize the then current state of McCarthyism or anti-Communist investigations of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUA) and Senator Joseph McCarthy. The authors used the historical Scopes trial as the background for a drama that comments on and explores the threats to intellectual freedom presented by the anti-communist hysteria. In 1996 Lawrence commented in an interview that, "we used the teaching of evolution as a parable, a metaphor for any kind of mind control [...] It's not about science versus religion. It's about the right to think." [1]


The play's title comes from Proverbs 11:29, which in the King James Bible reads:

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind:
and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.

In Act 1, Scene 3, Brady admonishes Reverend Brown with this bible quote for alienating his daughter when he gives a fiery sermon against Cates.


Act One, Scene One

The play begins with Howard looking for worms, then Melinda appears. They have a small chat, which tells the audience about the evolution teachings. Rachel enters, and calls for Mr. Meeker (The Bailiff). They have a talk, and Rachel convinces Meeker to bring Bertram Cates (the defendant) up so Rachel and Bert can talk. During this time, we are told more about why Bert taught evolution. Rachel and Bert are in love, and they kiss. Meeker comes in as they are kissing, saying he needs to sweep. Rachel then exits. Meeker talks about a time when he saw Mathew Harrison Brady, the prosecuting attorney. At the time, Bert's lawyer is not revealed, but he says he is coming from the "Baltimore Herald."

Reverend Brown enters, and he has some small chat with the town's people. Everyone is all excited about Matthew Harrison Brady coming. When Howard sees the smoke from the train, everyone exits. A reporter, E.K. Hornbeck, makes himself known as a not-so-nice reporter. After Mr. Hornbeck feigns conversation with a monkey, the crowd enters, and Brady begins his speech, and everyone is excited to see him. The Mayor reads his welcoming speech, and makes Brady an "Honorary Colonel in the State Militia". The mayor then introduces Mr. Brady to Reverend Jeremiah Brown. Members of the town's Ladies Aid bring in a buffet lunch for Mr. Brady as he talks about how he will fight his opponent. Hornbeck then announces that the Defending Lawyer will be Henry Drummond, one of Mr. Brady's old friends, and a well known lawyer. The scene ends with everyone in the town escorting Mr.and Mrs.Brady to their hotel.

Scene Two

Scene Two begins in the court house with Davenport (Circuit District Attorney) questioning Mr. Bannister for Jury duty. Mr. Bannister says he attends church on Sundays, and the prosecution accepts him. Mr. Drummond then questions Mr. Bannister, and it is revealed that Mr. Bannister is illiterate. Mr. Drummond then states "Well, you are fortunate." Mr. Bannister takes a seat in the Jury. Jesse H. Dunlap is then called to the stand, and Mr. Brady calls a motion that everyone takes off their coats, because the temperature is "now 97 degrees Fahrenheit." The judge agrees, and everyone removes their coats. The prosecution then asks Dunlap if he believes in the Bible. Dunlap says yes. Drummond then rises and says "No questions, not acceptable." After a little exchange of words between Brady and Drummond, Drummond goes up to him and asks how he is. Dunlap says he's hot, and Drummond says he is too. Drummond then excuses Dunlap. Drummond doesn't like that Brady has the title of "Colonel." The Mayor then jumps up, while Meeker calls George Sillers to the stand. The Mayor confers with the Judge, and decides to make Drummond a "Temporary Honorary Colonel." Brady then questions Sillers simply, then accepts him. Drummond asks Sillers some questions on religion, then on evolution. Drummond then accepts Sillers. Brady and Drummond have an argument that Sillers wont render impartial judgment. Brady then says that the Jury members must conform to the laws of society, and Drummond explodes at the word "conform." Brady then brings up the "Endicott Publishing Case," where Drummond made the Jury believe it was their own heads that was messing up the case. Drummond then states that he wants to stop "the clock-stoppers" from putting some medieval garbage into the Constitution. The Judge states that this is not a federal court, then Drummond says "Well, damnit, you've got to stop them somewhere." The Judge rules that both men are out of order, and that that Jury has been selected. He recesses the court until 10 the next morning. Before he leaves, he announces that Reverend Brown will hold a prayer meeting later that night. Drummond argues against it, saying that it's not fair, that he should announce an evolutionist meeting. The Judge stands that the court is recessed.

Scene Three

Scene Three starts with Brady being interviewed by some reporters from "Reuters News Agency" (Pronounced Royters), in London. Brady says that if his own brother were to challenge the faith of millions, he would still oppose him. Reverend Brown enters, stating he likes to begin his meetings on time. The rest of the crowd enters, and Brown begins saying how we believe in the spirit of God. Brown runs through all Six days of creation, and how on the 6th day, he created man, and everyone bows down to Brown. After a short speech, everyone rises again, responding in a loud roar "YES!" to each line. Brown curses the "man who has sinned against the word" (Cates), calling down hellfire on him and damning him to hell. Rachel then runs up and tries to stop her father from Damning Bert to hell, but the Reverend "calls down this same curse on those who pray grace for this sinner." Brady stops Brown, saying how he is over zealous, and states "He that troubleth his own house, shall inherit the wind." (Where the play gets its name) The towns people exit, singing, then Brady and Drummond have a talk about how they were good friends, and that they have drifted away. Drummond says that Brady has moved away, "by standing still."


Inherit the Wind opened with actors Paul Muni, Ed Begley and Tony Randall under the direction of Margo Jones on January 10, 1955. It debuted at Broadway's National Theatre on April 21, 1955.[3][4] It played on Broadway until June 22, 1957. It was revived on Broadway twice: Apr 4, 1996 - May 12, 1996 and Apr 12, 2007 - Jul 8, 2007.[5] The 1996 revival starred George C. Scott as Drummond and Charles Durning as Brady. In April, Scott had to leave the show mid-performance due to ill health and was replaced by Tony Randall for that day.[6] His illness finally led to the revival's closure.[7] Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy starred in the 2007 revival.[8] Kevin Spacey (Henry Drummond) and David Troughton (Matthew Harrison Brady) starred in a 2009 revival at The Old Vic in London.[9]

In the 1990s Jason Miller and Malachy McCourt starred in the Philadelphia production which broke that city's long run records.


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