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At the beginning of Inherit the Wind,
Brady arrives pompously, confident that the trial is as good as
won. Scornful of the threat that Drummond might present to him as
the opposing attorney, Brady exhibits hubris, or excessive pride,
in failing to consider the prospect of his own humiliation. Playing
on his home turf in rural Christian Tennessee, Brady basks in the
glow of his simple-minded supporters’ praise. When Drummond undermines
Brady’s authority, Brady breaks down, for he lacks the inner strength
to reconsider his own beliefs and adjust to an unexpected challenge.
We learn that Brady ran for president in three consecutive
elections but never succeeded. This failure plagues him throughout
his life and manifests itself during the trial. When Brady falls
ill following his floundering responses to Drummond’s line of questioning,
he deliriously spews forth the speech he had prepared for a possible presidential
victory. Brady is a caricature of the real-life prosecutor William
Jennings Bryan. Like Brady, Bryan lost three presidential elections
and died shortly after the Scopes Monkey Trial. In Inherit the
Wind, as in the national media in 1925,
Brady’s / Bryan’s death symbolized the humiliation he suffered in
the trial and the end of an obsolete brand of politics. Bryan was
a Democrat, but in the decades after his death, his party took on
a more progressive, liberal stance. Not that conservative elements
disappeared from American politics—they now exist as tenets of the
Although his politics and values are rigidly fundamentalist, Brady
remains a complex character. Although he subscribes to a rather
traditional brand of Christianity, he embraces more of the Bible
than the Hillsboro preacher Reverend Brown does. When Brown harshly
calls for eternal hellfire as punishment for Cates and all those
who side with him—including even his own daughter—Brady interrupts
Brown and reminds the crowd of the Christian doctrine of forgiveness.
Brown’s version of Christianity, with its frequent casting out of
sinners, is grounded in the harsher books of the Old Testament.
Brady’s, on the other hand, recognizes the more compassionate elements
of Jesus’ message and the possibilities that this compassion creates
Ace your assignments with our guide to Inherit the Wind!