BROWN. Lord, we call down the same curse on those who ask grace for this sinner—though they be blood of my blood, and flesh of my flesh!
BRADY. (Rising, grasping BROWN's arm) Reverend Brown, I know it is the great zeal of your faith which makes you utter this prayer! But it is possible to be overzealous, to destroy that which you hope to save—so that nothing is left but emptiness. (BROWN turns) Remember the wisdom of Solomon in the Book of Proverbs—(Softly) "He that troubleth his own house…shall inherit the wind." (BRADY leads BROWN to a chair, then turns to the townspeople) The Bible also tells us that God forgives His children. And we, the Children of God, should forgive each other. (II, I, 168-81)
Brown and Brady are both big shots among their respective religious followers, but they have very different takes on how to treat fellow sinners. This passage shows how even within Bert's group of opponents, there are various degrees of fanaticism.
MRS. BRADY. (Soothing) It's all right, baby. It's all right. (MRS. BRADY sways gently back and forth, as if rocking her husband to sleep) Baby…Baby…! (II, II, 820-23)
It's hard not to feel for Brady, as arrogant as he is, when he gets baby-fied by his nice wife. It's also hard not to want to vomit.
DRUMMOND. How quickly they can turn. And how painful it can be when you don't expect it. (He turns) I wonder how it feels to be Almost-President three times—with a skull full of undelivered inauguration speeches.
After their fierce competition is over, check out the way that Drummond himself "turns" and starts to feel for his opponent. Drummond's change of heart demonstrates how even a hardened lawyer can have a kind heart (just not when he's in the heat of battle).
CATES. (Softly) Did you see his face? He looked terrible… (III, 494-96)
Even though Brady is the one that got him a guilty sentence, Bert is able to feel compassion for the old man. Bert's compassion for the enemy proves that he's a complex character; he's more than meets the eye. While he would be totally justified in hating his opponent, he takes the high road, letting the balancing scales of justice inform his opinions.
HORNBECK. […] Why should we weep for him? He cried enough for himself! (III, 606-07)
The reporter has no compassion for Brady; he feels he should keep the insults flying. So while the play shows that some supporters of evolution can also be intolerant and closed-minded, Hornbeck serves as evidence of extremist evolutionists. Brady's the extremist on his side of the camp.
DRUMMOND. You smart-aleck! You have no more right to spit on his religion than you have a right to spit on my religion! Or my lack of it! (III, 613-16)
When Hornbeck makes fun of Brady, Drummond really puts himself in Brady's suspenders. So he defends the guy. Sweet, huh?
HORNBECK. (Askance) Well, what do you know!
Henry Drummond for the defense
Even of his enemies!
DRUMMOND (Low, moved) There was much greatness in this man. (III, 617-24)
Hornbeck tries to bait Drummond into talking smack about Brady, but Drummond is just too good. How does this Drummond compare with the one we've seen in the first two acts? How has he changed, and to what do you attribute that change?
HORNBECK. I charge you with contempt of conscience!
Self-perjury. Kindness aforethought.
Sentimentality in the first degree. (III, 671-74)
He's a real joker, that Hornbeck. But these lines reveal that he's not all fun and games. He's serious about wanting everyone to stay strong and stick to what they believe in, no matter what human emotions might intrude. And he's really unhappy that no one wants to join his bullying club. He's a rational man, and to him, that means going hard all of the time, no ifs, sympathies, or buts about it.
HORNBECK. "Be-Kind-To-Bigots" Week. Since Brady's dead,
We must be kind. God, how the world is rotten
With kindness! (III, 678-81)
It almost seems like Hornbeck is the one with principles here, since he's being consistent in his hatred. But could there be another way to explain everyone's attitudes toward Brady? Is being unequivocally nasty really the same thing as being principled?
DRUMMOND. […] But Matt Brady got lost. Because he was looking for God too high up and too far away. (III, 683-85)
Remember how Drummond and Brady were pals back in the day? It seems like Henry is recalling those times now that the show is over. And apparently, his assessment of the situation is that Brady got a little too obsessed with fame to have a "real" relationship with God and goodness.
HORNBECK. […] The Baltimore Herald, therefore, is happy to announce
That it is sending two representatives to "Heavenly Hillsboro":
The most brilliant reporter in America today,
And the most agile legal mind of the Twentieth Century,
(This name is like a whip-crack.)
At this point in the text, Brady has already arrived on the scene, but Bert's lawyer's identity hasn't been announced yet. And then: ta-da. This moment tells us that the fight at the center of Inherit the Wind is going to be a feisty one. The stage directions, especially—with their simile of the whip-crack—really reveal to the hubbub that Drummond's name causes in the town.
BRADY. If the enemy sends its Goliath into battle, it magnifies our cause. Henry Drummond has stalked the courtrooms of this land for forty years. When he fights, headlines follow. (With growing fervor) The whole world will be watching our victory over Drummond. (Dramatically) If St. George had slain a dragonfly, who would remember him. (I, I, 628-33)
This is Brady's "bring it on" moment; he looks forward to a good competition, because it will bring him even more press. And he's not even shy about his fame addiction. He seems to think he's justified because any press for him is press for Good. Right, Brady. Right.
HORNBECK. I'm inspecting the battlefield
The night before the battle. Before it's cluttered
With the debris of journalistic camp-followers.
(Hiking himself up on a window ledge)
I'm scouting myself an observation post
To watch the fray. (I, I, 693-98)
Hornbeck's metaphor for the courtroom is a battlefield, and it's an apt one, given how bloodthirsty both sides end up being. Good thing we have the poetic Mr. Hornbeck around to set the scene for us. Thanks, bro.
BRADY. […] I want people everywhere to know I bear no personal animosity toward Henry Drummond. There was a time when we were on the same side of the fence. He gave me active support in my campaign of 1908—and I welcomed it. (Almost impassioned, speaking at writing tempo, so all the reporters can get it down) But I say that if my own brother challenged the faith of millions, as Mr. Drummond is doing, I would oppose him still! (II, I, 25-32)
This little bit of backstory shows us how the Drummond-Brady showdown is actually sort of a rematch between these two characters. The fact that these two lawyers have a history—that they're old BFFs turned arch-nemeses—adds even more drama to the play. This is some As the World Turns -level drama, kiddos.
DRUMMOND. Do you ever think about things that you do think about? (There is some laughter.
But it is dampened by the knowledge and awareness throughout the courtroom, that the trap is about to be sprung) Isn't it possible that first day was twenty-five hours long? There was no way to measure it, no way to tell! Could it have been twenty-five hours?
(Pause. The entire courtroom seems to lean forward.)
BRADY (Hestitates—then) It is… possible…
(DRUMMOND'S got him. And he knows it! This is the turning point. From here on, the tempo mounts. DRUMMOND is now fully in the driver's seat. He pounds his questions faster and faster.) (II, II, 671-83)
Reading this scene is like watching a boxer chase his opponent into a corner and bite his ear off. (Yikes, sorry Mike Tyson.) This moment is especially important in the play because we can pinpoint it as the climax. The stage directions tell us that this is the point of no return, when the losers become the winners. The tables have turned for Drummond and Bert, and now we know they'll come out on top (in some sense). We're on the edge of our seats for the grand finale…
DRUMMOND. […] Must men go to prison because they are at odds with the self-appointed prophet? (BRADY is now trembling so that it is impossible for him to speak. He rises, towering above his tormenter—rather like a clumsy, lumbering bear that is baited by an agile dog) (II, II, 757-62)
The simile comparing Brady to a clumsy bear and Drummond to an agile dog gives the reader a vivid image of the mismatch between the two lawyers; one seemed bigger and stronger, but he wasn't quick enough to get the better of the underdog. We here at Shmoop would bet on the doesn't-miss-a-thing Mr. Drummond any day.
DRUMMOND. (Sighing) Someday I'm going to get me an easy case. An open-and-shut case. I've got a friend up in Chicago. Big lawyer. Lord how the money rolls in! You know why? He never takes a case unless it's a sure thing. Like a jockey who won't go in a race unless he can ride the favorite. (III, 59-64)
Here, Drummond lets us know that he'd rather lose a good fight than win a boring one. This little insight is important to how we understand his character. Though he's not a superficial attention-seeker like Brady, he does have something in common with his enemy; this trial isn't just business for him. It's personal. He chooses the cases he's interested in carefully, and only gets involved in those cases.
MELINDA. (Calling to HOWARD across the courtroom) Which side won?
HOWARD. (Calling back) I ain't sure. But the whole thing's over! (III, 342-47)
The fact that these kids can't even tell who won the case lets us know that it was the drama, way more than the outcome, that had everybody in town interested in Bert's trial. The court case was entertainment for them, and the townspeople were like the audience of a play. Do they even believe that the outcome will affect them? Probably not. They're just in it for the popcorn and Twizzlers. This circus-like dynamic of the trial reveals to us the playwrights' desire to highlight the injustice of the justice system; clearly, they think the courtroom is more a stage for grandstanding lawyers than a place where truth and honesty take center stage.
CATES. I'm not sure. Did I win or did I lose?
DRUMMOND. You won.
CATES. But the jury found me—
DRUMMOND. What jury? Twelve men? Millions of people will say you won. They'll read in their papers tonight that you smashed a bad law. You made it a joke! (512-21)
Here, the arena gets a lot bigger than just little old Hillsboro's courtroom. Bert might have lost his case in the tiny town of Hillsboro, but the huge radio audience will declare him a winner, according to his lawyer. (Besides, dude only got sentenced to a one hundred dollar fine; that was just a slap on the wrist, and everybody knows it.)
DRUMMOND. I can't imagine the world without Matthew Harrison Brady. (III, 593-95)
This line provides us insight into Drummond's complexity. First of all, once the competition is over, he's allowed to show compassion for his opponent. So, clearly, pinning people against each other in a gladiator-like arena can bring out the worst in folks. Plus, this brief quote shows how Drummond needs an opponent in order to feel most like himself. Brady wasn't just his Drummond's enemy; without the other half of his competitive dynamic duo, Drummond's kind of a humdrum dude.
(BANNISTER, PLATT and other townspeople gather excitedly. They are colorful small-town citizens, but not caricatured rubes.) (I, I, 204-06)
This stage direction takes great efforts to portray the people from Hillsboro as somewhat ignorant, but not totally stupid. Since the playwrights are so hard on ideologically intolerant people in this play, they have to be careful not to look like hypocrites; of course, city folk can be intolerant, too.
MRS. KREBS (Unctuously, to HORNBECK) You're a stranger, aren't you, mister? Want a nice clean place to stay?
HORNBECK. I had a nice clean place to stay, madame,
And I left it to come here.
Hornbeck's comments are a perfect example of big-city snobbery. In these lines, we get the stereotype that rural areas do not have the comforts of the city; they are dirty little hovels. Of course, then, Hornbeck is also living out the stereotype that people from the city don't have manners. Nice.
HORNBECK. The unplumbed and plumbing-less depths!
Ahhhh, Hillsboro—Heavenly Hillsboro.
The buckle on the Bible Belt. (I, I, 276-78)
Comparing the town of Hillsboro to the buckle on the Bible belt is a humorous way to let us know a lot about not only how important religion is in the small town, but also how the big city outsiders perceive it. It's so tiny and insignificant that it can't even be the belt; it has to be the buckle on the belt.
BRADY. […] I have come because what has happened in a schoolroom of your town has unloosed a wicked attack from the big cities of the North!—an attack upon the law which you have so wisely placed among the statutes of this state. (I, I, 432-27)
Brady is playing on old tensions between the north and south in the U.S. to show his audience that he's one of them—not an outsider like Drummond. Even though the Civil War was almost one hundred years old at the time the play was written, those old scars are still vulnerable. Especially if you're from the South, you know that there's some truth to this animosity between the northern and southern states, even today.
MAYOR. Just about everybody in Hillsboro knows everybody else. (I, I, 517)
Sometimes you wanna go, where everybody knows your name. And sometimes you want to get out. That's small-town life for you.
HORNBECK. There's a newspaper here I'd like to have you see.
It just arrived
From that wicked modern Sodom and Gomorrah,
Baltimore! (I, I, 706-09)
Here, Hornbeck is poking fun at the Hillsboro residents' religious beliefs. He's likening his own city to the burned-down cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which, in the Old Testament, were destroyed by God for their sinful ways. Obviously he doesn't think modernity is bad; he just wants to make the townspeople look like fools for their outdated and ignorant (in his opinion) beliefs.
RACHEL. Will this be published here, in the local paper?
HORNBECK. In the "Weekly Bugle"? Or whatever it is they call
The leaden stuff they blow through the local linotypes?
I doubt it. (I, I, 741-44)
Even Hillsboro's local paper is subject to Hornbeck's snooty commentary. Here he implies that people in small towns aren't as well informed as city slickers—even if those people happen to be journalists. Ouch.
BRADY. (With affable sarcasm) Is the counsel for the defense showing us the latest fashion in the great metropolitan city of Chicago?
DRUMMOND. (Pleased) Glad you asked me that. I brought these along special. (He cocks his thumbs in the suspenders) Just so happens I bought these galluses at Peabody's General Stores in your home town, Mr. Brady. Weeping Water, Nebraska. (I, II 67-74)
Oh, no, he didn't. But he did… Drummond turns the tables on Brady in this back-and-forth, all over a pair of questionable suspenders. His point is that Mr. Brady isn't as much of a small town boy as he seems—he's after big money and big fame. So much so that he and Mr. Drummond, the accused "city slicker," share the same taste in suspenders.
DAVENPORT. I object to this, Your Honor. Colonel Brady has been called as an authority on the Bible. Now the "gentleman from Chicago" is using this opportunity to read into the record scientific testimony which you, Your Honor, have previously ruled is irrelevant. (II, II, 434-38)
The nickname "gentleman from Chicago" is an underhanded diss. It's all polite on the surface, but this comment really aims to highlight how weird Drummond is because he's an out-of-towner. Basically, Davenport's accusing him of being a snob who thinks he's too good for the little old town of Hillsboro; and, by doing so, he's hoping to turn the jury against him.
RACHEL. There's one out at five-thirteen. Bert, you and I can be on that train, too! (III, 708-10)
This run-away scene seems to show that the only way to live among open-minded people is to get out of the small town. What do you think about that? Are there a lot of free-thinking small towns out there, despite what Inherit the Wind seems to imply?
BRADY (Reaching for a sympathetic ear, trying to find the loyal audience which has slipped away from him) My friends—Your Honor—My Followers—Ladies and Gentlemen— (II, II, 768-70)
This line is important because it's the first sign that Brady, even if he wins the case, has lost his audience. And since we know that attention is his real goal—not defending the law against evolution—we know that this line means a true defeat for poor old Brady.
BRADY. (Still erect on the witness stand) Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi…
(His voice trails off. He sinks, limp and exhausted into the witness chair.) (II, II, 803-06)
Taking the stand might have been a bad idea for Brady; it leaves him flapping on the shore like a fish out-of-water. He's no longer a big, strong bear, is he? The tides sure have turned.
MRS. BRADY (Taking his hand) Matt—
(BRADY looks about to see if everyone has left the courtroom, before he speaks.)
BRADY. Mother. They're laughing at me, Mother!
MRS. BRADY. (Unconvincingly) No, Matt. No, they're not!
Mrs. Brady is usually the wind beneath her Mister's wings, but even she can't convince him that people aren't laughing at him in this sad scene. Probably because, well, they are laughing at him. Yikes. We're a little disturbed by Mr. and Mrs. Brady's relationship dynamics in this play. They don't seem quite healthy. Someone call Freud …
MRS. BRADY. (Soothing) It's all right, baby. It's all right. (MRS. BRADY sways gently back and forth, as if rocking her husband to sleep) Baby…Baby…! (II, II, 820-23)
From giant to baby in one fell swoop; this visual image is the picture of defeat. This is another moment where the special circumstances of the theatre are used to show rather than tell what is happening in the play. Mr. Brady sure has fallen far from his original larger-than-life stardom.
The courtroom is almost empty. Two spectators doze in their chairs. In comparative shadow, BRADY sits, eating a box lunch. He is drowning his troubles with food, as an alcoholic escapes from reality with a straight shot. (III, 6-9)
Why do you think that Brady has given up here? It's too early for him to know that he's lost the bigger battle, isn't it?
JUDGE. The jury's decision is unanimous. Bertram Cates is found guilty as charged!
(There is tremendous reaction in the courtroom. Some cheers, applause, "Amens." Some boos. BRADY is pleased. But it is not the beaming, powerful, assured BRADY of the Chautauqua tent. It is a spiteful, bitter victory for him, not a conquest with a cavalcade of angels.) (III, 218-25)
This ruling should be a defeat for Bert and Drummond. But Brady is the one that seems really disappointed here. The change in his demeanor is what gives away the fact that his goal has not been accomplished; he wanted to crucify Bert. Instead, all Bert has gotten is a slap on the wrist. And Mr. Brady has already been humiliated in front his once-adoring public. Poor Mr. Brady. We guess.
(BRADY is fretful and disturbed. He's won the case. The prize is his, but he can't reach for the candy. In his hour of triumph, BRADY expected to be swept from the courtroom on the shoulders of his exultant followers. But the drama isn't proceeding according to plan.) (III, 270-75)
This line shows us that defeat isn't only about what happens in public; you can win the case, but if you had higher expectations for yourself, you can still feel like you lost. It's our own internal compasses that determine our understandings of certain events as wins or losses. Are we right?
JUDGE. […] The court deems it proper—(He glances at the MAYOR)—to sentence Bertram Cates to pay a fine of—(He coughs) one hundred dollars. (III, 83-86)
This is a very sweet defeat for Drummond. Even though he lost the case, Bert's sentence is so light that we know things will go his way eventually… whether he finds justice through court appeals, or the court of popular opinion.
(The mighty Evolution Law explodes with the pale puff of a wet firecracker. There is a murmur of surprise through the courtroom. BRADY is indignant.)
What an image. The "pale puff of a wet firecracker," huh? Does that sound like a big victory to you? Nope.
DRUMMOND. […] I wonder how it feels to be Almost-President three times—with a skull full of undelivered inauguration speeches.
HORNBECK. Something happens to an Also-Ran.
Something happens to the feet of a man
Who always comes in second in a foot-race.
He becomes a national unloved child,
A balding orphan, an aging adolescent
Who never got the biggest piece of candy. (III, 477-86)
These lines remind us that Brady, who up to this point has been painted as a beloved, famous man, is really a lifetime loser. He's just "an aging adolescent" who crumbles when he doesn't get his way. The way that Brady reacts to Drummond's questioning during the trial pretty much convinces us that this accusation is true; Brady really is a big baby. It's pretty hard to have any respect for the guy.
MEEKER. […] Seems kinda queer havin' a schoolteacher in our jail. (Shrugs) Might improve the writin' on the walls. (I, I, 92-94)
The bailiff's comment reminds us of the position a schoolteacher is supposed to have in a community: teachers are supposed to be respectable, law-abiding, and good at grammar and spelling. How does Bert live up to, or not live up to, these stereotypes? Do you think teachers are still widely respected today?
BRADY. I'm sure you teach according to the precepts of the Lord.
RACHEL. I try. My pupils are only second-graders. (I, I, 534-35)
Both Brady and Rachel believe in bringing religion right into the classroom, even in public schools. But what about the separation between church and state?
RACHEL. You make it sound as if Bert is a hero. I'd like to think that, but I can't. A schoolteacher is a public servant: I think he should do what the law and the school-board want him to. If the superintendent says, "Miss Brown, you're to teach from Whitley's Second Reader," I don't feel I have to give him an argument. (I, I, 756-61)
Where do you think that the rules for what is taught in schools should come from? Students? Teachers? Administrators? Politicians? This is a thorny issue, Shmoopers.
HORNBECK. Ever give your pupils a snap-quiz on existence?
HORNBECK. Where we came from, where we are, where we're going?
RACHEL. All the answers to those questions are in the Bible.
HORNBECK. (With a genuine incredulity) All?! You feed the youth of Hillsboro
From the little truck-garden of your mind?
Hornbeck is pushing Rachel to see whether she ever thinks for herself. He's upset to find out that not only does she not think too much, but she doesn't want her students to, either. This moment will become very important at the end of the play, when Rachel shows a real change in her attitude. Even "old dogs" can learn new tricks, eh?
BRADY. If you had a son, Mr. Sillers, or a daughter, what would you think if that sweet child came home from school and told you that a Godless teacher— (I, II, 158-60)
What does this line tell us about the way children are considered to be fundamentally innocent, no matter what they do? Is this how you view kids? Why or why not? Do you think this view stems from certain readings of the Bible? Why or why not?
BRADY. […] I tell you, if this law is not upheld, this boy will become one of a generation, shorn of its faith by the teachings of Godless science! (II, II, 56-58)
Wowzers, Brady is really taking this trial to an extreme place. But he does that because he understands the influence education can have on an entire generation of children. At least Drummond and Brady can agree on that point, even if they don't agree on the particulars of what should be taught in schools.
BRADY. […] The people of this state have made it very clear that they do not want this zoo-ological hogwash slobbered around the schoolrooms! (II, II, 309-10)
This line makes an interesting point about our educational system in the U.S.: states are supposed to make decisions about their students' educations, not the federal government. What do you think about the fact that each state makes its own decisions regarding school curricula? Do you think this is a good system or a bad one?
BRADY. The Bible satisfies me, it is enough.
DRUMMOND. It frightens me to imagine the state of learning in this world if everyone had your driving curiosity. (II, II, 525-27)
Drummond is "driving" at the idea that education isn't just the teacher's job… the students have to be curious and want to learn, too. At the same time, he's leveling a punch at Mr. Brady for not being "curious" enough to look for answers outside of what the Bible can provide him.
BRADY. […] Is it possible that something is holy to the celebrated agnostic?
DRUMMOND. Yes! (His voice drops, intensely) The individual human mind. In a child's power to master the multiplication table there is more sanctity than in all your shouted "Amens!", "Holy, Holies!" and "Hosannahs!" An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man's knowledge is more of a miracle than any sticks turned to snakes, or the parting of waters! But are we now to halt the march of progress because Mr. Brady frightens us with a fable? (II, II, 570-80)
Bet you never thought about what a miracle it is to learn the times tables. Here, Drummond is revealing that he is not just a hard-nosed atheist who has no time for miracles. He is showing that he is able to marvel at the world, which he considers a spiritual act. His spirituality is just cut from a different mold than Brady's, you know?
BRADY. I'll tell you what he's trying to do! He wants to destroy everybody's belief in the Bible, and in God!
DRUMMOND. You know that's not true. I'm trying to stop you bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the education of the United States! And you know it! (II, II, 702-06)
If you didn't think that education was a hot political topic, then you should reread this exchange between Brady and Drummond a few times. Yikes. Trust us; things aren't so different today, Shmoopers. People never stop being concerned about who's "controlling the education of the United States," and for good reason, too.
BRADY. […] My friends of Hillsboro, you know why I have come here. I have not come merely to prosecute a lawbreaker, an arrogant youth who has spoken out against the Revealed Word. (I, I, 420-23)
This line lets us know that for Brady, the case isn't just about some technicality in the law; it's about Justice with a capital J. It's about bringing down a man who seems to be waging a war against the Bible.
BRADY. […] Now what will Drummond do? He'll try to make us forget the lawbreaker and put the law on trial. (I, I, 642-43)
This is often what happens when people are put on trial for breaking controversial laws: the trial becomes not about the person being prosecuted, but about whether or not the law itself is just. Sometimes the only way to change the law is to break it, and incite a court case.
BRADY (Annoyed) Does Mr. Drummond refuse this man a place on the jury simply because he believes in the Bible?
DRUMMOND. If you find an Evolutionist in this town, you can refuse him. (I, II, 93-97)
Courtroom dramas give us a cool look into the inner workings of the justice system that seemed so dry in civics class. Of course, both lawyers try to stack the jury in their favor by choosing people that are amenable to their side of the case.
DRUMMOND. The use of this title prejudices the case of my client: it calls up a picture of the prosecution, astride a white horse, ablaze in the uniform of a militia colonel, with all the forces of right and righteousness marshaled behind him. (I, II, 121-25)
Now, there's an image. Drummond is saying that it isn't fair to call Brady a "Colonel" because it unfairly biases the jury and the media to think that he's the righteous one—he's got the military behind him, after all. Can you think of any other titles that change the way that people see the person who gets to use it? (Where would Principal Skinner be without his title?)
BRADY. I've seen what you can do to a jury. Twist and tangle them. Nobody's forgotten the
Endicott Publishing case—where you made the jury believe the obscenity was in their own minds, not on the printed page. It was immoral what you did to that jury. Tricking them.
Judgment by confusion. Think you can get away with it here? (I, II, 217-22)
Here, Brady's calling Drummond out for using some questionable tactics in order to win a previous case. Is it moral to convince a jury of something that might be untrue, in order to bring about a verdict that you believe is just? Wow. That's a pretty tough question. How much truth can you sacrifice in the pursuit of some larger sense of justice?
BRADY. […] But if the full penalty of the law is meted out to Bertram Cates, the faithful the whole world over, who are watching us here and listening to our every word, will call this courtroom blessed! (II, II, 58-61)
Legal justice is closely related to divine justice for Brady. In fact, he doesn't seem to care as much about defending the law as he does about his own belief system being promoted.
DRUMMOND. (To the JUDGE) I am trying to establish, Your Honor, that Howard—or Colonel
Brady—or Charles Darwin—or anyone in this courtroom—or you, sir—has the right to think!
JUDGE. Colonel Drummond, the right to think is not on trial here.
DRUMMOND. (Energetically) With all respect to the bench, I hold that the right to think is very much on trial! It is fearfully in danger in the proceedings of this court! (II, II, 86-94)
So, Bert is technically on trial for teaching evolution. But Drummond is trying to take people's attention off of that law, which it's pretty obvious that Bert did break, and focus on questioning the righteousness of the idea behind the law. This courtroom tactic was very important in the 20th century; lawyers felt they had to bring unjust laws all the way to the Supreme Court so they could get them thrown out.
DRUMMOND. (In a low voice) Realizing that I may prejudice the case of my client, I must say that "Right" has no meaning to me whatsoever! (There is a buzz of reaction in the courtroom) Truth has a meaning—as a direction. But one of the peculiar imbecilities of our time is the grid of morality we have placed on human behavior: so that every act of man must be measured against an arbitrary latitude of right and longitude of wrong—in exact minutes, seconds, and degrees! (II, II, 142-49)
What is the difference between legal justice and right and wrong? Where does truth fit into all of this? Is it possible to have a non-"arbitrary" moral compass without religion? Do you think the relations between religion and morality are part of what motivate Brady to so zealously defend the law on trial in this play?
DRUMMOND. […] For it is my intent to show this court that what Bertram Cates spoke quietly one spring afternoon in the Hillsboro High School is no crime! It is incontrovertible as geometry in every enlightened community of minds! (II, II, 341-45)
Drummond's aiming to really manipulate the jury's thoughts and feelings in this case. He's admitting outright that his client broke the law, in order to try to make them see that it's the law that's truly wrong, not Bert.
BRADY. Your Honor, this entire trial is unorthodox. If the interests of Right and Justice will be served, I will take the stand. (II, II, 377-78)
Brady pretends to be at the mercy of Right and Justice, but we'll see later that he's really a slave to his own fame. This quote is just another example of him showboating.
CATES. It isn't as simple as that. Good or bad, black or white, night or day. (I, I, 139-40)
Bert's attitude is very threatening for some people, especially if they believe that being principled means dividing the world into right and wrong. What do you think?
RACHEL. Mr. Drummond. You've got to call the whole thing off. It's not too late. Bert knows he did wrong. He didn't mean to. And he's sorry. Now why can't he just stand up and say to everybody: "I did wrong. I broke a law. I admit it. I won't do it again." Then they'd stop all this fuss, and—everything would be like it was. (I, II, 267-72)
Rachel wants Bert and Drummond to go against their principles in order to avoid the spectacle of the trial, and the possibility of a jail sentence for Bert. But these two characters are having none of that. Rachel, unlike Bert and Drummond, is motivated by fear. She would rather things be unfair than to rock the boat.
DRUMMOND. […] Cates, I'll change your plea and we'll call off the whole business—on one condition. If you honestly believe you committed a criminal act against the citizens of the state and the minds of their children. If you honestly believe that you're wrong and the law's right.
Then the hell with it. (I, II, 332-37)
Here, Drummond is making sure that his client is all the way on board with his strategy in the trial. He's a principled man who knows his client is technically guilty, so he's going to try to show the jury that the law itself is unjust… if Bert agrees.
CATES. (Quietly, with determination) No, sir. I'm not gonna quit.
RACHEL (Protesting) Bert!
CATES. It wouldn't do any good now, anyhow. (I, II, 346-51)
Bert is a stubborn guy. Even with a nice girl like Rachel tempting him to back down and plead guilty, he sticks to his guns.
DRUMMOND. […] Bert, whenever you see something bright, shining, perfect-seeming—all gold, with purple spots—look behind the paint! And if it's a lie—show it up for what it really is! (III, 96-99)
This image of a flawed rocking horse exemplifies Drummond's understanding of his mission in the world: he's a truth-seeker, someone who calls it like it is, and shows all of those pretty-painted but rotten-to-the-core ponies what they're up against.
CATES. […] (With difficulty) I feel I am…I have been convicted of violating an unjust law. I will continue in the future, as I have in the past, to oppose this law in any way I can. I— (III, 264-67)
You can't keep a good man (or dog) down. Even after his loss, Bert lets everyone know that he'll continue to fight for what he believes is just—and that's to teach modern science to future generations of children.
BRADY. (Thundering) Your Honor, the prosecution takes exception! Where the issues are so titanic, the court must mete our more drastic punishment—
DRUMMOND (Biting in) I object!
BRADY. To make an example of this transgressor! To show the world— (III, 295-305)
Drummond and Bert aren't the only ones with principles. Brady, too, is planning to take this battle all the way to the bitter end. He wants to reveal Bert as a sinner who's waging some sort of unholy war against the Bible. Yeesh.
DRUMMOND. Just a minute. Just a minute. The amount of the fine is of no concern to me. Bertram Cates has no intention whatsoever of paying this or any other fine. He would not pay it if it were one single dollar. We will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of the state. Will the court grant thirty days to prepare our appeal? (III, 306-12)
In this passage, Drummond lets everyone know once again that this trial wasn't about keeping Bert out of prison. He won't be satisfied until the law that put Bert on trial is changed. He's ready to pursue this case to the bitter end.
DRUMMOND. You don't suppose this kind of thing is ever finished, do you? Tomorrow it'll be something else—and another fella will have to stand up. And you've helped give him the guts to do it! (531-35)
Dude. So Drummond believes the purpose Bert's trial wasn't just to highlight the injustice of the law against teaching evolution. He wants to inspire other free-thinkers to stand up for what they think is right. We're imagining a whole new generation of Drummonds matriculating to law school right this very minute…
RACHEL. Mr. Drummond, I hope I haven't said anything to offend you. You see, I haven't really thought very much. I was always afraid of what I might think—so it seemed safer not to think at all. But now I know. A thought is like a child inside our own body. It has to be born. If it dies inside you, part of you dies, too! (Pointing to the book) Maybe what Mr. Darwin wrote is bad. I don't know. Bad or good, it doesn't make any difference. The ideas have to come out—like children. Some of 'em healthy as a bean plant, some sickly. I think the sickly ideas die mostly, don't you, Bert? (III, 575-85)
Finally, our girl Rachel starts to think for herself. Here, she's basically saying that pursuing the truth—be it right or wrong—is more important than feeling secure in what one already knows. Way to go, Rach.
HOWARD. […] When the whole world was covered with water, there was nuthin' but worms and blobs of jelly. And you and your whole family was worms! […]
MELINDA. Howard Blair, that's sinful talk! I'm gonna tell my pa and he'll make you wash your mouth out with soap!
HOWARD. Ahhh, your old man's a monkey! (I, I, 40-47)
This argument between Melinda and Howard shows how evolution has been misconstrued by many. Maybe they shouldn't be so mad at Bert for teaching evolution, because at least he could set kids like these straight.
HAWKER. Hot dog?
(HORNBECK up-ends his suitcase and sits on it.)
HORNBECK. Now that poses a pretty problem!
Which is hungrier—my stomach or my soul?
(HORNBECK buys a hot dog.)
ELIJAH (Miffed) Are you an Evolutionist? An infidel? A sinner? (I, I, 281-89)
Hornbeck's joke points out the way that religion can sometimes seem to be sold or pushed onto people like a petty product—like hot dogs in the park.
BRADY. […] What a challenge it is, to fit on the old armor again! To test the steel of our Truth against the blasphemies of Science! To stand— (I, I, 507-09)
Here Science and Religion are like two professional wrestlers… and they are not on the same tag team. When Brady uses rhetoric like this, he intends for Truth and Science to sound completely incompatible. If that were true, then Bert's actions must've been wrong.
DUNLAP. (Vigorously) I believe in the Holy Word of God. And I believe in Matthew Harrison Brady! (I, II, 85-86)
There's some kind of creepy hero-worship seeping into the discourse here, as Brady becomes about as important as God himself. We think Brady'd agree with Dunlap. Ugh.
DRUMMOND. You murder a wife, it isn't nearly as bad as murdering an old wives' tale. Kill one of their fairy-tale notions, and they call down the wrath of God, Brady, and the state legislature. (I, II, 294-97)
Do you think what Drummond says here is true? Can society handle a murderer easier than someone with revolutionary ideas?
BRADY. […] I say that these Bible-haters, these "Evil-utionists," are brewers of poison. (II, II, 50-51)
Oh, he went there. Even Brady isn't too high and mighty to make a nice pun on "evolutionists." But he's playing his listeners, trying to make them fear evolutionary science. He wants to make people shake in their boots at the prospect of new ideas… which kind of makes him sound like he's opposed to learning, doesn't it?
CATES. Religion's supposed to comfort people, isn't it? Not frighten them to death! (II, II, 206-07)
Clearly, Bert and Reverend Brown don't agree about the purpose of religion. Bert thinks religion should be a comfort in people's lives; Rev. Brown thinks it should scare people into doing what he thinks is right or good.
DRUMMOND. […] How can you be so cocksure that the body of scientific knowledge systematized in the writings of Charles Darwin is, in any way, irreconcilable with the spirit of the Book of Genesis? (II, II, 426-29)
Drummond, unlike Brady and many of the townspeople, believes it's possible to reconcile Science and Religion. One can believe in evolution, and believe that it is God's hand that set evolution in motion, for example. This also foreshadows the very last scene of the play…
HORNBECK. We're growing an odd crop of agnostics this year! (III, 656-57)
Hornbeck is surprised that Drummond can quote the Bible. He's got religious people stuffed into a pretty tiny box, and he has trouble wrapping his head around a complex guy like Drummond. Drummond seems like a religious man, in some respects: he values moral rightness, truth, and justice. But he ain't no fool.