Inherit the Wind

by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee

Act I

Scene I: The setting is in and around the Hillsboro Courthouse. The foreground is the courroom, and on a raked level above it is the courthouse square, the Main Street and the converging streets of the town. Howard, a boy of thirteen, wanders onto the courthouse lawn carrying a fishing pole and a tin can. Melinda calls from offstage. She tries to make conversation, but he is not interested. She is disgusted by the worms that he has for bait, so he says that she was a worm once. Melinda says that that's "sinful talk" and threatens to tell on him. He then calls her father a monkey. Rachel Brown enters, a distracted girl of twenty-two. She tries not to be noticed by Howard, who asks a worm what it wants to be when it grows up. Rachel calls to Mr. Meeker, the bailiff. He had just finished shaving. She is there to see Bertram Cates. Meeker brings Cates up to see her. Cates tries to cheer her up by saying that the food is better in jail than at the boarding house. She brought a clean shirt, his best tie, and some handkerchiefs. Rachel is worried about Matthew Harrison Brady coming to tell Bert how wrong he is from Chattanooga. Cates's crime was reading from Hunter's Civic Biology book, Chapter 17 about evolution. Rachel asks him why he can't be on the right side of things. Meeker comments about seeing Brady at a Chatauqua meeting. The next day, the Storekeeper enters as Mrs. Krebs saunters along the square. When the storekeeper asks her if it warm enough, she responds that "the Good Lord guv us the heat, and the Good Lord guv us the glands to sweat with." Reverend Brown enters, angry that the banner wasn't up. Corkin tells him that the paint didn't dry until then. Bollinger says that Brady's train is on time, and Cooper says that people will pour in. The storekeeper is delighted that business will boom, while Bannister wonders where everybody will sleep. Platt says that it's the biggest day for the town since Coxey's Army came through. Melinda and Howard enter, she selling lemonade. They raise a banner that blares "Read Your Bible." A Hawker tries to sell hot dogs. Mrs. McClain enters, selling fans compliments of Maley's Funeral Home. Elihaj, a holy man from the hills, tries to sell Bibles. Mrs. McClain tries to sell E.K. Hornbeck a fan, while Mrs. Krebs asks him if he has a nice place to stay. He replies cattily that he had one, but he left to be there. He had a reservation at the Mansion House. Hornbeck buys a hot dog instead of a Bible. Hornbeck was a writer for the Baltimore Herald. An organ grinder with a monkey enters, and Hornbeck asks it if it is testifying for the prosecution or defense. It takes Melinda's penny. Brown assembles the members of the Bible League to welcome Brady. The storekeeper refuses to tell his opinions on evolution. Brady, a gray, balding, paunchy man of sixty-five enters with Mrs. Brady, the Mayor, Reverend Brown, and Tom Davenport, the circuit district attorney. They sing "Gimme that Old-Time Religion." Mrs. Brady seems always to be in her husband's shadow. Even Hornbeck is impressed by Brady. Mrs. Brady steps out of a picture with her husband and the Mayor, but is shocked that a picture is taken of Brady without his alpaca coat on. The Governor gave the mayor authority to confer on him a commission as Honorary Colonel in the State Militia. Brady beams whenever the food is brought out, and Mrs. Brady warns him not to overeat. He calls her Mother. Rachel says to Brady that Cates isn't a criminal, and is really a good person. Rachel says that she won't tell anything about him. Brady tries to use sympathy to get her to talk about Cates. Hornbeck tells Brady that the Herald is sending Henry Drummond to defend Cates. Drummond had just got two Chicago child murderers off the previous week. Brown calls Drummond an agent of darkness and perhaps the Devil himself. The mayor thinks of ways to keep Drummond out of town, but Brady welcomes the challenge. Brady thanks the Ladies' Aid for the food and then leaves. Rachel talks to Hornbeck Hornbeck says that beauty and biology may be on their side. Rachel asks Hornbeck if his article sympathetic to Cates will be published in Hillsboro. Rachel says that Brady is the champion of ordinary people, but Hornbeck says that the times passed Brady by. The town is silent. Melinda screams because she sees the devil- Drummond. Hornbeck welcomes him to hell.

Scene II: Davenport asks Bannister if he attends church regularly, and he says only on Sundays. Drummond asks him if he knows anything about Evolution or Darwin, or even the Bible. Bannister can't read. Drummond accepts him. Jesse Dunlap, a farmer and cabinetmaker is next. He is rejected because he says that he believes in the Holy Word of the Bible and in Brady. Brady is angry because Drummond doesn't even ask him a question, so Drummond asks him how he is. Drummond becomes angry that they refer to Brady as "Colonel," so the mayor makes Drummond a colonel as well. Sillers from the feed store is accepted by both. Brady mentions the Endicott Publishing case which Drummond was part of. The Judge makes an announcement about a prayer meeting. Rachel wondres why Cates doesn't just admit that he's wrong. Cates feels that people look at him as if he were a murderer. Drummond says that he murdered an old wives' tale. Drummond saays that when one loses the power to laugh, they lose the power to think straight. Rachel accuses Drummond of using Cates to trash the Bible. Drummond decides to let Cates plead guilty only if he believes what he did was wrong. Rachel tells Drummond how she fears her father and never knew her mother.

Act II

Scene I: The courthouse lawn on that same night. Brady is giving a speech, and a Reporter with a British accent from the Reuters News Agency in London asks his personal opinion of Henry Drummond. Brady says that he is disappointed that Drummond does not support him. Brady is disappointed that Hornbeck is so biased. Sarah Brady worries about her husband's throat. Brown, a combination Milton Sills and Douglas Fairbanks, gives a passionate Fundamentalist speech. They pray to call down hellfire on Cates, so Rachel rushes to the platform and pleads with her father not to pray to destroy Bert. Brown calls the same curse down on her. Brady cautions Brown on being overzealous, and reminds him of the wisdom of Solomon- "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind." Drummond and Brady meet, and Brady asks why Drummond is so far away from him now. Drummond says that all motion is relative, and that perhaps Brady moved by standing still.

Scene II: Howard is on the stand, testifying about what Cates taught them in science class. Brady says that he has no intention of making a speech, then makes one. Drummond, while on cross-ex, tries to establish that everybody has the right to think. Drummond asks Howard if he became evil after hearing Cates' teachings. He asks Howard if a tractor is sinful because it isn't mentioned in the Bible. Drummond says that "right" has no meaning to him, but "truth" does. Davenport calls Rachel, who testifies that Cates stopped going to church two years ago after Tommy Stebbins drowned. Brown said at the funeral that the boy would burn in hell because he was not baptized. Cates says that religion is supposed to comfort people, not frighten them. Rachel also testifies about the remark "God created Man in His own image, and Man, being a gentleman, returned teh compliment." Hornbeck laughs at this joke. Drummond tries to call Dr. Amos Keller, head of the Department of Zoology at the University of Chicago. The judge does not allow this. Drummond then tries to call Dr. Allen Page, Deacon of the Congregational Church and professor of geology and archeology at Oberlin. He then tries to call Walter Aaronson, a philosopher and anthropologist. Drummond brought fifteen noted scientists. The Judge rules that any testimony on On the Origin of Species is irrelevant. Drummond then calls Brady to testify on the Holy Scriptures. Drummond asks Brady if he has ever read from Darwin because it is a pagan book. Drummond asks if everything in the Bible should be taken literally. He mentions Jonah and Joshua and asks where Cain's wife came from. They then discuss original sin. Drummond says that the one thing holy is the advance of man's knowledge. Drummond presents a rock dated at ten million years old, but Brady says that it cannot be more than six thousand years old. The world supposedly began on October 23, 4004 B.C. at 9 A.M. They discuss whether it is a twenty-four hour day. Brady accuses Drummond of trying to destroy everybody's belief on the Bible. Drummond calls Brady "the Prophet from Nebraska." Everybody laughs at Brady. Brady starts listing the books of the Bible, and cries to his wife. She cradles him in her arms.


Scene I: The next day at the courtroom, Drummond and Cates wait for the jury to return. Hornbeck says that he will miss Hillsboro- it must have been designed by a congressman! Drummond says that he never picks sure things because he did on Golden Dancer, a rocking horses. Golden Dancer had a bright red mane, blue eyes, and was gold with purple spots. Ma skimped on groceries and Pa worked nights for a month so that he could have it. And it broke. Harry Esterbrook sets up for a radio announcement, and the Mayor tells the Judge to be easy on Cates for the upcoming elections. Esterbrook says that one cannot say God on the radio. Cates if found guilty, and gives a short speech. He is fined one hundred dollars, but Drummond says that he will appeal the decision. The judge fixes bond at five hundred dollars. Brady is not allowed to make a speech. Melinda and Howard aren't sure who won. Brady collapses, and Meeker and Davenport catch him. As he is carried out, he gives presidential acceptance speeches. Cates isn't sure whether it won or lost. Drummond said that Cates helped the next person. Rachel decides to leave her father. Rachel believes that ideas need to be born. Brady is dead. He died of a busted belly. Hornbeck gives a speech criticizing Brady, and Drummond shouts at him for such contempt. Hornbeck says that Brady delivered his own obituary- "He that troubleth his own house..." Hornbeck accuses Drummond of contempt of conscience and sentimentality. Cates and Rachel leave, forgetting Rachel's copy of Darwin. Drummond takes the Darwin and the Bible and slaps the two together and put them in his briefcase.