A Proverbial Use of Proverbs to Describe Characters of Inherit the Wind

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Proverbs Against The Wind

Along with Proverbs 11:29 serving as an inspiration and description for the title, “Inherit The Wind,” by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, a few other proverbs describe the characters in the novel. Throughout the novel, the numerous characters argued about the Bible, which contains the Book of Proverbs, and its relevance. Mrs. Brady, Bertram Cates, and Henry Drummond are amongst these characters that each had, at least, one proverb that related to them. Since the Book of Proverbs is a collection of a variety of wise sayings, readers are able to describe Mrs. Brady’s support and thoughtfulness for her husband, Bertram Cates’ foolishness for violating the law, and Henry Drummond’s strive in seeking higher knowledge, in only one proverb per character.

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“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones,” is an ideal proverb in describing Mrs. Brady ( Throughout the plot, Mrs. Brady is supportive and thoughtful towards her husband, Matthew Harrison Brady. Most of what of Mrs. Brady’s actions towards Mr. Brady are brief and can be unnoticed, if one does not read carefully. In the exposition, when Mr. and Mrs. Brady are overwhelmingly being greeted by the townspeople, Mrs. Brady tells Mr. Brady, “you didn’t have your coat on,” and puts the coat on for him, so he can pose for the photo shooting session (Lawrence, Lee 21). During the picnic, Mrs. Brady is very thoughtful, when she says, “Remember, the doctor told you not overeat,” reminding Mr. Brady to take care of his health (Lawrence, Lee 23). Unlike most celebrity wives, Mrs. Brady cares more about her family than publicity. After the picnic, Mrs. Brady politely says farewell to the Mayor, telling him about Mr. Brady, “always like to nap after a meal” (Lawrence, Lee 30). When the trial begins, Mrs. Brady proves to be a more supportive and thoughtful wife. After the turning point occurred, and Henry Drummond gains more support from the townspeople, Mr. Brady shows that he does not have good coping skills. Therefore, Mr. Brady gets upset and overloads his mind so much, that he is imagining people laughing at him (Lawrence, Lee 102). Mrs. Brady tries to convince Mr. Brady that no one is laughing at him, yelling, “No, Matt. No, they’re not” (Lawrence, Lee 103). Then, Mrs. Brady puts her arms around Mr. Brady, cradling him back and forth (Lawrence, Lee 103). For Brady’s well-being, and at times, when Mr. Brady’s coping skills are at a low, Mrs. Brady supports and shows affection towards her husband, Matthew Harrison Brady.

“He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin,” is an ideal proverb in describing Bertram Cates ( As the protagonist in the novel, Cates is accused of teaching evolution at a high school in Tennessee, where teaching evolution is illegal (Lawrence, Lee 8). He is foolish in violating the law, because the consequences of violating it has life-changing affects. If Cates did not read the textbook in class and instead, kept quiet or taught a more acceptable topic, there would be no trial and his reputation, and basically, his life, would not be in ruin. After violating the law, and being deemed as an atheist, Cates would definitely have his love life with Rachel Brown, the reverend’s daughter. In the exposition, when Rachel decides to visit Bertram at the jailhouse, it is already obvious that their relationship will or has been affected. When Rachel asks Meeker, the bailiff, if she can visit Cates, Rachel already motions that she does not want anybody, especially her father, knowing that she went to visit Cates, because that would socially incorrect. Rachel tells Meeker, “Don’t let my father that I came here” (Lawrence, Lee 5). In the jailhouse, Cates acts like a fool. He refuses to admit that he did any wrong, by saying that reading the “Origin of Species,” by Charles Darwin in a Tennessee high school cannot be judged just by the townspeople, since to Cates, “it’s not as simple as that” (Lawrence, Lee 9). Though Cates is loved and supported by Rachel, while in the jailhouse, he acts more foolish by insulting her. Rachel asks Cates, “why can’t you be on the right side of things?”, saying as Cates should do what is right and popular, since his act was not popular amongst many people (Lawrence, Lee 9). Cates, rudely, tells Rachel, “your father’s side,” mocking Rachel’s respect for her father and her mindset that religion is very important, because her father is a religious leader in the community (Lawrence, Lee 9). What is even more foolish about Cates’ act is that when Rachel starts leaving, he pleads to her, “love me” (Lawrence, Lee 9)! If Cates did not try to insult Rachel and kept his anger to himself, he would not have had gotten her upset. It is only near the resolution that Cates realizes that even though he got a controversial law was brought to court, in high publicity, it was not worth it. After the trial ends, though Cates is relieved that the trial is over, he is also worried. He asks his defense lawyer, Henry Drummond, “What will happen to me? I haven’t go a job. I’ll bet that they won’t even let me back in the boarding house” (Lawrence, Lee 123). If Bertram Cates choose to not express his opinions, and guarded his lips, he would not be worried about how his life would be in the future.

“Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge,” is an ideal proverb for Henry Drummond ( Throughout the plot, mostly during the trial, Drummond challenges others and strives in seeking knowledge. Throughout the trial, Drummond is constantly trying to emphasize that taking a literal interpretation of the Bible, instead of thinking what the stories mean, would not lead to no progress. The Bible cannot be changed, but thinking to get knowledge of a new topic grows progress. Other than Mr. Brady. Howard is the witness that Drummond challenges the most. When Howard is on the witness stand, Drummond asks “you figure anything’s [Cates reading the “Origin of Species,” by Charles Darwin.] wrong with that, Howard?,” (Lawrence, Lee 71). Though Howard does not have an answer, Drummond concludes, “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” (Lawrence, Lee 71)! When the court is picking the jurors for the case, Drummond notes that he supports knowledge and thinking, because it promotes progress, by saying, “All I want is to prevent the clock-stoppers from dumping a load of medieval nonsense into the United States Constitution” (Lawrence, Lee 47). Drummond further expressed his belief, saying that, “An idea is a greater than a cathedral. And the advance of man’s knowledge is more of a miracle than any sticks turned into snakes, or the parting of waters” (Lawrence, Lee 93). Drummond also makes the case that if faith is the most important thing, then “why did God plague us with the power to think” (Lawrence, Lee 93)? According to the Bible, there were a lot of miracles that occurred, but it is the ability for readers and believers of the Bible to think, in order for readers to understand the stories and the symbolism behind it. Nowhere in the Bible does it forbid one to not think or question about one’s faith. The most dramatic scene of Drummond trying to defend that knowledge is progress was when he told Brady that, “perhaps it is you who have not moved away by standing still,” acknowledging that since Brady was so literal and devoted to a book that could never be changed, without thought, that he has not made any progress or moved along with society, thus, straying away from the words of knowledge (Lawrence, Lee 67). Though not an atheist, Henry Drummond strives for high knowledge, so the progress and change needed in society can occur.

One verse from the Book of Proverbs could describe the plot and did inspire the title to “Inherit The Wind,” by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. The numerous characters in the novel argued about the Bible, which contains the Book of Proverbs, and its relevance. However, some of the characters, including Mrs. Brady, Bertram Cates, and Henry Drummond, has, at least, one proverb that related to them. For one proverb for each character, Mrs. Brady’s support and thoughtfulness for her husband, Bertram Cates’ foolishness for violating the law, and Henry Drummond’s strive in seeking higher knowledge, can be described.

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