Sumaiya In Inherit the Wind, the Scopes trial is


According to Inherit the Wind,
what was the Scopes trial about?

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to Inherit the Wind, the Scopes trial was about the Scopes “Monkey”
Trial that took place in 1925. The authors of the play, Robert E. Lee and Jerome
Lawrence, wrote of the fictional account to teach of the conviction of Scope
when he taught the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin to a high school
class, even though it was not allowed due to Tennessee state law. The play
succeeded in showing the disputes between evolutionists and creationists due to
the trial. In Inherit the Wind, the Scopes trial is expressed as the
trial of Bert Cates, who is a high school biology teacher. Cates broke
Tennessee law by teaching evolution to his class and as a result, he is
imprisoned in jail. The play follows the prosecutor of the trial, Matthew
Harrison Brady and the defender, Henry Drummond, as they fight for religion and

Describe the motivations of those
opposed to the teaching of evolution in Inherit the Wind.

The motivation
of those opposed to the teaching of evolution in Inherit the Wind is
religion. Those who opposed the teaching of evolution due to religion believed
that people should follow the Bible and its story of the Divine Creation of man,
which does not mention that humans have evolved from apes. Those who opposed
this idea were known as fundamentalists, people who took the Bible as the
literal word of God. They believed Darwin’s theory conflicted with the idea of
creationism. In Inherit the Wind, the people of the town opposed the
theory of evolution because they were narrow minded and ignorant. They followed
what the church and the government said and did dare to question their views.

According to Carol Iannone, what are some key
differences between the real Scopes trial and its fictionalized counterpart in Inherit
the Wind?

Some key differences between the real Scopes trial and its
fictionalized counterpart in Inherit the Wind are that the names of
characters have changed and the play has distorted many details. The real
Scopes trial revolves around John Scopes while Inherit the Wind revolves around
Bertram Cates. Cates is arrested in the act of teaching Charles Darwin’s theory
of evolution because of citizens who had been morally offended while Scopes was
approached by citizens who wanted to bring publicity to the town. Scopes did
not have much knowledge of evolution and was only chosen as a candidate to
challenge the Butler Act. Another key difference is that while Scopes was free
from imprisonment, Cates was held in a jail cell and he ended up losing his
job. This differs from Scope’s fate as his job was still available to him.
Throughout the play, Bert Cates is shown to be in fear while on the actual
trial, Scopes lives far from it. Scopes is able to enjoy his life and the
roughest treatment he received was a reprimand for being late. The play even
succeeded in distorting Bryan’s character. Brady, who portrays Bryan in the
play, is shown to be distressed and a biblical literalist. However, Bryan is
portrayed as focused and fun and is not known as someone who takes the Bible

Which of the differences noted by Iannone are
significant in your view? Why?

The most significant difference noted by Carol Iannone is how the playwrights
have changed many of the characters by distorting their thoughts and
personalities. For example, William
Jennings Bryan who is portrayed as Matthew Harrison Brady in Inherit the
Wind, was a focused man during the trial that was familiar with Darwin and
his theory. The play expresses him as a distressed being that follows every
word of the Bible. This difference was significant as the play took important
people and changed them into humans who had completely different views. By
doing this, it allows people to view characters with ridicule and hides the
truth. People who read the play do not really know of the true characters and
this changes how they view the trial. If characters who are strong in the real
world are portrayed as weak in the play, they will not be taken seriously.

Did the writers of Inherit the Wind
intend their play to be viewed as an accurate depiction of the real Scopes
trial? What was the message they thought they were communicating in their play?

The writers of Inherit the Wind did not intend their play
to be viewed as an accurate depiction of the real Scopes trial. They have said
that the play is not history and have made characters that have lives of their
own, as well as names.  The authors have
admitted that Inherit the Wind is theater and while some phrases in the play
have been taken from the actual trial, their play is an exodus on its own. The
message the authors thought they were communicating in their play was an
individual’s control over their own thoughts and beliefs. Their theme was not
the theory of evolution itself but the right to think, the right to be wrong
and the right to be lonely. They wanted to defend the mind and how it allows
individuals to think and have the ability to produce ideas.

possible problems are there in relying on movies and plays to teach us about
historical events?

When relying on movies and plays to teach us about historical events,
there are many possible problems that may occur. One possible problem is that
when movies are created, they use information from texts that are reliable but change
some of the crucial information to better fit the context of the movie. This
leads to incorrect historical information which is then viewed by people who
absorb the information and believe it to be true. Plays and movies add in
information to create a riveting plot that would be viewed by a large audience
and this information is fabricated to add tragedy, romance and drama into the
story. Many individuals who watch movies and plays often take them seriously
and will end up repeating the mistakes found in the film or the play. Historical movies are a blend of facts and fiction and
it is difficult to separate the two. People who watch those films or plays will
not be able to differentiate between fact and fiction, leading them to believe
most of it is true.

Why do you think Inherit the Wind remains
popular today?

Inherit the Wind remains popular today because it was written for a controversial
topic; one that can still be argued about today. It brought to light the
division between religion and science. Many individuals took sides during the
Scopes trial and the play did an exceptional job of expressing that. Inherit
the Wind caused people to question their beliefs and explore ideas they
would not have dared to explore before. The play resulted in curiosity and curiosity
leads to more exploration. People began to study science to see whether the theories
were true and could be proven. The play focused on an individual’s ability to
think for themselves and that concept is still seen in the world today. The
play dealt with crucial issues and those issues led to people thinking, which led
to the idea of the freedom of thought. This idea is a significant part of our
everyday lives.


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