Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee

One of the most controversial plays of its time is hands down, Inherit the Wind. The main debate throughout the play is the debate between science and religion. A bit of a background for those that are naive to the topic in this time period to follow. Small towns such as Hillsboro were very prone to streamlined views in every possible topic of extremities such as religion to minor topics relative to eateries, gossip, and small town politics.

Lawrence and Lee do an exceptional job representing and setting the scene of this town by painting the history of the play’s main characters. They make a strong point about the lack of strayed opinion as everyone is primarily religious in views and science is taught according to the bible. In a sense it is wrong for one to have a mind or speak about views that clash with what has been widely accepted in Hillsboro. 

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Drummond is a notorious criminal defense lawyer who openly voices his opinions about one’s ability to think and have a valid opinion about racy topics; anything that comes to mind. He is deemed atheist and uses his wit and knowledge of the world to humiliate his nemesis (Brady).

Drummond stems his argument from the townspeople’s tunneled vision of religion. He dissects the bible in its entirety and exposes its truths to all. “The individual human mind. In a child’s power to master the multiplication table there is more sanctity than in all your shouted “Amens!”, “Holy, Holies!” and “Hosannahs!” An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man’s knowledge is more of a miracle than any sticks turned to snakes, or the parting of waters!” (Act 2 Scene II)

Ironically to the historical context of the scopes trial; Drummond, who plays the part of Clarence Darrow, is very witty but logical in his statements. Darrow was said to be extremely sarcastic and ignorant. Darrow wanted to expose the ideals of fundamentalism while Drummond’s intent was to bring tolerance to it whilst finding the truth. Drummond’s appearance and demeanor in the courtroom was portrayed as relaxed and confident.

Due to his views he was persistently shunned by the townsmen and women. The unfavored attorney faces many personal trials through the small town court system. One being unable to call witnesses to the stand. Even with the odds against him Drummond uses his intelligence and creativity to completely sway opinions in his favor. He does this by calling Brady to the stand.

Matthew Harrison Brady is an extremely prideful and confident character. Seems irrelevant to the essay but his swagger plays a large role toward his downfall in this play. His confidence and naivety will result in his ultimate mortification. Drummond calls Brady to the stand to indeed humiliate him entirely; stating he is an “expert of the bible”. Brady was exposed as extremely tunnel visioned and narrow minded. It was fairly easy for Drummond to expose the lies associated with Brady’s anointed status and the contradicting personification of his status with the morals of which he lived by. 

Although Cates is found guilty in his trial, Drummond proves to the townspeople that everyone has a right of voice and opinion and that it is okay to be wrong. By using the town’s most anointed character and exposing his weaknesses, Drummond opens a new chapter of acceptance to fundamentalist idealism to the parochial town.

According to Weston this play is largely based on generalizations and adequate evidence of traditional values and morale. The majority of what Brady argues is generalized. His views of creationism and religion are established but to both Drummond and Cates there is more to the world to be discovered such as truths and unwritten laws; the laws of nature. Not only do we see Weston’s rules of Generalizations but also Counter-Examples.

Hence the two are opposites and this play and trial are based on two solid foundations of clear arguments. Weston explains that counter examples prompt people to think deeper than they normally would. All in all this ties coherently to the critical thinking and philosophical theory of consistent argumentative strategies. 

Another tactic used by both Drummond and Brady is Weston’s “Start from a Reliable Premise”. Both creationism and fundamentalism has concrete evidence that makes for great argument. The basis of Christianity and its widespread beliefs made Brady’s argument extremely favorable to a provincial town of which he was praised of a false hierarchy. Drummond’s appeal to knowledge and humanity made for a solid argument that changed the views of most everyone who appeared in that trial. 

The one tactic of Weston’s that Drummond clearly elaborated on rather than Brady was “Build On Substance Not Overtone”. Whilst Brady put a strong emphasis on “Reading your Bible” and quoting various scriptures as support for his arguments, Weston does a superb job assessing and analyzing Brady’s overzealous efforts to instill a religious monument upon the law.

Drummond does not channel on and on about fundamentalist ideas of which his beliefs reside, rather he weakens his opponents views of the human mind and the supposed religious control of all aspects of life. Essentially the courtroom boils down to kindness and compassion vs militant patriarchy. When Brady wins his case it is a shrewd win. Drummond uses his substance through power of language to rid of the christian doctrine motif that was so evidently present though out the trial. 

The last tactic of Weston’s that weighed substantially on the argumentative aspect of this play was Drummond’s use of language. Not only does he emphasize on loaded words but he emphasizes on moral and what is right. Drummond uses different fables and stories to get a clear point across about compassion; he brings Brady to tears in the stand.

He reveals that himself, Brady, and all else are flawed and that it is perfectly okay to be made this way; We Are Only Human. Not egotistical, but ego driven; Drummond seeks the hard truth in everyone to justify his case. “All shine, and no substance! [Turning to Cates] Bert, whenever you see something bright, shining, perfect-seeming—all gold, with purple spots—look behind the paint! And if it’s a lie—show it up for what it really is!”



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