Book Review: Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee

Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence, Robert E. Lee |, Paperback ...

Title: Inherit the Wind

Author(s): Jerome Lawrence, Robert E. Lee

Genre: Classic Plays

Number of Pages: 144

Rating: B

Recommended?: Yes



One of the main things that struck me upon reading Inherit the Wind for the first time was how forward-thinking and modern it felt. It’s criticism of people who take every word of the bible literally without ever stopping the question anything felt like it could have been written right now and be just as relevant and just as potentially controversial. Inherit the Wind is both a classic work of fiction and a play, neither of which are genres I’m particularly familiar with.


It’s based on a true story about a schoolteacher who was taken to court for teaching evolution to his students in a small town in the 1920’s. Since for some reason fundamentalist Christians find belief in evolution and faith to be incompatible, they act like the poor teacher was speaking in tongues and defiling a crucifix in the middle of the street.


From the very beginning, it seems extremely unlikely he’ll win the case and the odds are stacked up against him, with so much bias and hate directed at him from the get-go. Pretty much the whole play is set in the courtroom as the teacher Bertram Cates’ fate is decided by a group of very different people with a variety of agendas.


Like most plays, Inherit the Wind is a quick read and it wastes no time getting to the point. It’s interesting how the different personalities play off each other, and how in several cases they end up being quite a bit different than you expected them to be. I found the most interesting character to be the persecuting attorney Matthew Brady, who is beloved by the locals and is the ultimate phony politician whose only genuine concern is being made a fool of. He’s not entirely unlikable which makes him more compelling as an antagonist.


I didn’t connect much to any of the characters in this story and unfortunately Bertram Cates is one of the least dynamic, despite being the one who sets all of the events in motion. I would have like to have gotten to know more about him, because even though his plight was easy to sympathize with I didn’t like him or connect with his character otherwise. The character of his girlfriend was also pretty flat, not unlike most female characters of a certain era. Otherwise I enjoyed it and I would recommend it for casual reading, not just because you’re in high school and got saddled with it by your English teacher.


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