SumaiyaChaudhry1. According to Inherit the Wind,what was the Scopes trial about?Accordingto 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 JeromeLawrence, wrote of the fictional account to teach of the conviction of Scopewhen he taught the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin to a high schoolclass, even though it was not allowed due to Tennessee state law. The playsucceeded in showing the disputes between evolutionists and creationists due tothe trial. In Inherit the Wind, the Scopes trial is expressed as thetrial of Bert Cates, who is a high school biology teacher. Cates brokeTennessee law by teaching evolution to his class and as a result, he isimprisoned in jail. The play follows the prosecutor of the trial, MatthewHarrison Brady and the defender, Henry Drummond, as they fight for religion andscience.
2. Describe the motivations of thoseopposed to the teaching of evolution in Inherit the Wind.The motivationof those opposed to the teaching of evolution in Inherit the Wind isreligion. Those who opposed the teaching of evolution due to religion believedthat 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 opposedthis idea were known as fundamentalists, people who took the Bible as theliteral word of God. They believed Darwin’s theory conflicted with the idea ofcreationism. In Inherit the Wind, the people of the town opposed thetheory of evolution because they were narrow minded and ignorant.
They followedwhat the church and the government said and did dare to question their views. 3. According to Carol Iannone, what are some keydifferences between the real Scopes trial and its fictionalized counterpart in Inheritthe Wind? Some key differences between the real Scopes trial and itsfictionalized counterpart in Inherit the Wind are that the names ofcharacters have changed and the play has distorted many details. The realScopes trial revolves around John Scopes while Inherit the Wind revolves aroundBertram Cates. Cates is arrested in the act of teaching Charles Darwin’s theoryof evolution because of citizens who had been morally offended while Scopes wasapproached by citizens who wanted to bring publicity to the town. Scopes didnot have much knowledge of evolution and was only chosen as a candidate tochallenge the Butler Act. Another key difference is that while Scopes was freefrom imprisonment, Cates was held in a jail cell and he ended up losing hisjob. 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 actualtrial, Scopes lives far from it. Scopes is able to enjoy his life and theroughest treatment he received was a reprimand for being late. The play evensucceeded in distorting Bryan’s character. Brady, who portrays Bryan in theplay, is shown to be distressed and a biblical literalist.
However, Bryan isportrayed as focused and fun and is not known as someone who takes the Bibleliterally. 4. Which of the differences noted by Iannone aresignificant in your view? Why? The most significant difference noted by Carol Iannone is how the playwrightshave changed many of the characters by distorting their thoughts andpersonalities. For example, WilliamJennings Bryan who is portrayed as Matthew Harrison Brady in Inherit theWind, was a focused man during the trial that was familiar with Darwin andhis theory. The play expresses him as a distressed being that follows everyword of the Bible. This difference was significant as the play took importantpeople and changed them into humans who had completely different views. Bydoing this, it allows people to view characters with ridicule and hides thetruth.
People who read the play do not really know of the true characters andthis changes how they view the trial. If characters who are strong in the realworld are portrayed as weak in the play, they will not be taken seriously. 5. Did the writers of Inherit the Windintend their play to be viewed as an accurate depiction of the real Scopestrial? What was the message they thought they were communicating in their play?The writers of Inherit the Wind did not intend their playto be viewed as an accurate depiction of the real Scopes trial. They have saidthat the play is not history and have made characters that have lives of theirown, as well as names.
The authors haveadmitted that Inherit the Wind is theater and while some phrases in the playhave been taken from the actual trial, their play is an exodus on its own. Themessage the authors thought they were communicating in their play was anindividual’s control over their own thoughts and beliefs. Their theme was notthe theory of evolution itself but the right to think, the right to be wrongand the right to be lonely. They wanted to defend the mind and how it allowsindividuals to think and have the ability to produce ideas. 6. Whatpossible problems are there in relying on movies and plays to teach us abouthistorical 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 thatwhen movies are created, they use information from texts that are reliable but changesome of the crucial information to better fit the context of the movie. Thisleads to incorrect historical information which is then viewed by people whoabsorb the information and believe it to be true.
Plays and movies add ininformation to create a riveting plot that would be viewed by a large audienceand this information is fabricated to add tragedy, romance and drama into thestory. Many individuals who watch movies and plays often take them seriouslyand will end up repeating the mistakes found in the film or the play. Historical movies are a blend of facts and fiction andit is difficult to separate the two. People who watch those films or plays willnot be able to differentiate between fact and fiction, leading them to believemost of it is true.7.
Why do you think Inherit the Wind remainspopular today?Inherit the Wind remains popular today because it was written for a controversialtopic; one that can still be argued about today. It brought to light thedivision between religion and science. Many individuals took sides during theScopes trial and the play did an exceptional job of expressing that. Inheritthe Wind caused people to question their beliefs and explore ideas theywould not have dared to explore before. The play resulted in curiosity and curiosityleads to more exploration. People began to study science to see whether the theorieswere true and could be proven. The play focused on an individual’s ability tothink for themselves and that concept is still seen in the world today.
Theplay dealt with crucial issues and those issues led to people thinking, which ledto the idea of the freedom of thought. This idea is a significant part of oureveryday lives.