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Analysis of Henry Drummond as an Admirable Character in Inherit The Wind

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There are thousands if not millions of people constantly fighting for their beliefs every single day, however, they have commonly been considered as godless people or sinners by others. This is the case for the one and only, Henry Drummond, the best lawyer in all of America. In the play, Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, Drummond takes on the initiative to be Bertram Cates’ attorney during the Scopes Trial which is about the alleged teaching of evolution in a public school in Tennessee. As he arrived in Hillsboro for the Trial in July of 1925, it was made clear that he was not welcomed by the townspeople. He was well known amongst them as a ruthless lawyer and was considered as a creation of the Devil or maybe even the Devil itself. Despite all of the bad publicity, he is actually an admirable character because he is open-minded, courageous and possesses integrity.

Henry Drummond is a very open-minded character shown through his various actions throughout the play. His open-mindedness was portrayed in the scene where he saw Rachel and Cates disputing over whether or not they should continue on with the trial. Drummond realized the circumstances of the situation and gave Cates a decision, “I’ll change your plea and we’ll call off the whole business – on one condition. If you honestly believe that you’re wrong and the law’s right. Then the hell with it. I’ll pack my grip and go back to Chicago, where it’s a cool hundred in the shade” (Lawrence and Lee 52). Drummond knows that the Butler law is unjust because it prohibits a basic human right, the right to think. However, he knew that the defendant’s opinion took priority over his. If the person he is defending prefers to accept their punishment knowing that they truly broke the law, then it would be a waste of his time. Furthermore, Henry Drummond shows his open-mindedness once more near the end of the play when he was packing up to leave as the court case was finished. He picked up the Bible in one hand and Darwin’s Origin of Species in the other, balancing the two equally as if he were a scale. He half smiled and half shrugged putting both of them into his briefcase and headed on his way. Drummond does not value the importance of the Bible over Darwin’s Origin of Species nor the other way around, he treats all books with the same amount of respect. He has read both books and believes that they can both co-exist. Drummond’s open-mindedness throughout the play has led him to be more admirable.

Secondly, Henry Drummond’s courage is strongly shown throughout the course of the play. For instance, he expressed to Cates that he prefers to focus his talents and efforts towards more challenging cases that most would find impossible to win. Not only was the trial deemed a guaranteed loss for the defence, Cates was also cast out as a pariah by the townspeople as they thought that his expression of his right to think was sinful. Drummond’s courage is evident in this scene because he refuses to let the difficulties of the case stop him, he took it knowing that there was a high chance that he would lose and tarnish his reputation. His courage allows him to stand up for people charged with horrible things, while other lawyers would not take such a hard case to win. Moreover, during the court case when it was the defence’s turn to question people, Henry Drummond presented many knowledgeable scientists to give the jury a little insight on evolution as none of them had a clue on what it was. However, the judge denied all the scientists to give a brief explanation on evolution, so he had to think and act fast. Then Drummond did the unthinkable. To be the defence attorney and call up the prosecutor to testify for the defence would be the last thing on any lawyer’s mind, however, it was the exact thing that Drummond did. Drummond confidently declares, “I call to the stand one of the world’s foremost experts on the Bible and its teachings – Matthew Harrison Brady!”. For this to actually work in his favour was going to be a long shot but Drummond’s cleverness mixed with his courage made it work out in the end. The courage that Drummond displays through various scenes has aided him in winning over the citizens of Hillsboro while at the same time adding towards his admirability.

Lastly, another admirable trait that Henry Drummond possesses is integrity. Specifically, Henry Drummond is a very honest character as he tries his best to pick an unbiased jury so neither Brady nor himself gets an advantage. He only allows people onto the jury that do not have strong opinions on Darwin’s Origin of Species nor the Bible. For example, when they were picking jury members, Drummond added, “Look, I’ve established that Mr. Sillers isn’t working very hard at religion. Now, for your sake, I want to make sure he isn’t working at Evolution”. This proves that Drummond is very honest because despite his urge to win, he ensures that Mr. Sillers is neither an evolutionist nor a creationist so no one is at a disadvantage in the trial. Furthermore, after the trial when Brady dies, Hornbeck begins to insult Brady’s beliefs and his actions after his passing. Instead of Drummond agreeing and allowing Hornbeck to continuously throw insults at Brady, Drummond stands up for Brady and puts Hornbeck in his place by asserting to him, “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!”. Despite what the readers and characters expected, Drummond stood up for his competitor even after the hard times that Brady gave him in court. This displays that Drummond has the integrity to even protect his opponent in the time of defeat because he knows that Brady is still human and deserves respect after his passing. Drummond’s embodiment of integrity has been very positive and beneficial towards his admirability.

In conclusion, Henry Drummond has been an admirable character throughout the play through his actions because of his positive character traits including open-mindedness, courageousness and integrity. The townspeople thought of Drummond as a sinner or a godless man at the beginning of the play but throughout the course of the trial, his admirability through his strong character traits have turned the townspeople to favour him over their hero, Matthew Harrison Brady. 

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Analysis Of Henry Drummond As An Admirable Character In Inherit The Wind. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from
“Analysis Of Henry Drummond As An Admirable Character In Inherit The Wind.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021,
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