Inherit the Wind, a play written by Jerome Lawrence, and Robert E. Lee, is one of the greatest and most controversial plays of its time. It was written at a time of scientific revolution to benefit people of the day and in the future, however, people of the day had a hard time accepting new ideas. It is societies unwillingness to change, and accept new ideas that create racism, and hate groups of today. This unwillingness is one of the major themes of this play. This thesis will be further explained, and supported by such literary elements, as setting, and character throughout the essay.
The first example of the people’s unwillingness to accept new ideas, such as Darwinian theory, is towards the beginning of the book when both sides of the prosecution arrive in Hillsboro. The town is parading up and down the streets chanting, “give me that old time religion”, and “down with Darwin”. The irony of this is that none of them have read Darwin’s book, for example, when E.K. Hornbeck was talking to Eliza, the Bible salesman. Eliza said, that he, “can’t neither read nor write”, so he could not have read Darwin’s book, but yet he is calling Hornbeck a “sinner, and “evil-utionist” for believing in its ideas. None of the town’s people on Mr. Brady’s side of the trial have read, The Evolution of Species, not even Mr.Brady himself. Nevertheless, they will not accept the idea or take it into consideration. It is the town’s people who represent society, and even today people will make false accusations about issues without even researching or knowing about the topic. Just saying something that they hear someone else say, then someone will hear them say it and so on, and that is the theme the book addresses, and this has created a problem in our society.
The setting of this play has a lot to do with the main theme. Because the setting is a small town, it is not use to new ideas, and major cultural shock such as a large city. The people of the town have followed more traditional ancestral views about society, whereas people in a large city have been exposed to different cultures, and new ideas. A small town, in general, has no economic stature, and therefore, people of conditioned thought and tradition does not easily accept scientific revolutions from the big city. It is a great setting for the major theme, because those people are unwilling to accept new beliefs because they have been taught only one. In a large city, there will not be as much picketing and hatred for the idea, and that is why the people of Hillsboro make a great representation of our society, and their unwillingness to accept new ideas and changes.
The characters in the novel also play an important part in the theme of the play, in that what they really represent to us. Cates portrays the change in our society when he is talking to the children of his class about evolution, and not abiding by the law. The town represents society, and Colonel Brady represents the unwillingness to change, and helping to warp the minds of the town’s people having them cling to every last word he says. Colonel Drummond represents the minority of the people who agree with the change, and that he is representing Cates in this trial. Other characters in this play have a few significant roles, but not that directly relate to the theme.
In conclusion, there are many different themes of this play, but there is only one to be selected. The one chosen, “societies unwillingness to accept new ideas and changes”, is a subject that we are fighting today, and one in which people need to change and learn more about what is different. This is the theme of this play, and the most important one, one we need to learn from in which not everything is black, and white, right or wrong, good or bad, but it is the gray area that people need to come to a compromise about. Society would then be a better place for children to grow up in, and minority