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MonkeyNotes-Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee
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THEME

In Inherit the Wind, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee dramatize the necessity to encourage independent thinking. Ironically, both the protagonist and the antagonist are populists, supposedly dedicated to the needs of the common people and advocating a more equitable distribution of wealth and power. Although Brady and Drummond seem to have the same end goals, they have vastly different ideas about the means to achieve their goals. For Brady, the authority of God and the elected leaders should be accepted, followed, and never questioned. Drummond, on the other hand, believes that people must think for themselves and not simply accept the dictates of others. He knows that there is plenty of room in life to accommodate many different beliefs. He proves this during the trial, when he shows he is comfortable with both the ideas of the Bible and the ideas of Darwin. He symbolically represents this when he puts both Darwin's book and God's book in his briefcase together. Drummond, however, fully accepts that God has given man the capacity to think and expects him to use it. The dispute in the play, therefore, is between censorship and independent thinking.


Rachel Brown gives the idea of independent thinking a birth metaphor, for she says that all ideas should be allowed to exist. If they are good ideas, they will live on, and if they are weak ideas, they will die out. Unfortunately, the play reveals that it takes a long time for bad ideas to pass away. Reverend Brown and his fundamental and heartless teachings have thrived in Hillsboro for a long time. The state legislature has passed laws prohibiting the teaching of Darwin, and these laws have been on the books for a long time as well. But because of people like Cates, who are willing to fight for the truth and the freedom to think, there is hope that things will eventually change in Hillsboro; but it will take a long time. For a while, the Reverend Brown will continue as the town's moral leader. The mayor will continue to cater to the lowest common denominator and protect his political interests. Evolution will still be banned from the schools for years to come. In fact, in 1995, the state of Tennessee was once again attempting to curtail the teaching of evolution in the public school system. The play was revived on Broadway in recognition of that fact. There needed to be a reminder that censorship of thought in any form destroys rationality.

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