Literature Study: Inherit the Wind
Propaganda, Persuasion and Play-writing
Inherit the Wind
Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee
Adapted from McDougal Littell Conversation:
Lessons of History
Includes links to Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts
Though based on the famous Scopes “Monkey Trail” where William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow clashed over a teacher’s right to teach evolution, this play addresses other issues of freedom of thought by students and teachers. See how the various characters use propaganda techniques and persuasive strategies to convince others to believe and do what they are told. Learn the value of challenging what you hear and of testing claims that may seem valid on the surface.
For the Teacher: Students may connect with the conflict in the play in light of the recent high profile court cases about teaching intelligent design and creationism as part of high school science courses. Depending on the students’ religious convictions, class members may take firm opposing positions to the issues raised when the lawyers use the Bible in the closing arguments.
Some students of history will recognize that this play about intellectual freedom was published around the McCarthy Era and that the Scopes trial was not mentioned in history books in American high schools and colleges until after publication of this play in which the authors mention the connection their play and that historical incident.
The students may be interested to know that the Scopes trial received the first on-the-scene mass communications coverage of a criminal trial.” [Scopes Trial (4 February 2006) wikepedia,com]