twenty-four-year-old science teacher and the defendant in the trial.
A soft-spoken and humble man, Cates has been arrested for teaching
his students the theory of evolution from a biology textbook. His outlook
on human knowledge is skeptical, and he wonders about the nature
of the universe.
in-depth analysis of Bertram Cates.
Matthew Harrison Brady
- A national political figure and a three-time loser
in presidential campaigns who arrives in Hillsboro to lead the prosecution
in Cates’s trial. A Christian fundamentalist and Nebraska native,
Brady defends the literal truth of the Bible against what he labels
Cates’s big-city agnosticism. Drummond, however, exposes the obvious
contradictions of this viewpoint, much to Brady’s embarrassment.
in-depth analysis of Matthew Harrison Brady.
famous lawyer from Chicago whom the Baltimore Herald
defend Cates. Drummond, a believer in human progress, argues for
freedom of thought.
in-depth analysis of Henry Drummond.
E. K. Hornbeck
cynical, wisecracking journalist and critic who speaks in colorful
phrases. Hornbeck travels to Hillsboro to cover the trial for the Baltimore
. He despises Brady’s religious fundamentalism and
the townspeople’s simple-minded acceptance of Brady’s views. In
his column, Hornbeck portrays Cates as a hero.
Rev. Jeremiah Brown
- The figure of religious authority in Hillsboro.
Reverend Brown preaches a creed based on the fear of God and the
punishment of sinners.
daughter of Reverend Brown. Twenty-two-year-old Rachel teaches the
second grade at the school where Cates also taught. Rachel is close
friend of Cates, and their relationship has a romantic element.
Rachel fears her father’s disapproval and becomes upset when Brady
calls on her to testify about her personal conversations with Cates.
in-depth analysis of Rachel Brown.
judge presiding over Cates’s trial. The judge conducts the trial
impartially, although his personal views about the Bible’s legitimacy
are in line with those of the rest of the townspeople of Hillsboro.
At the mayor’s prompting, the judge gives Cates a lenient sentence
after the jury’s guilty verdict.
bailiff at the Hillsboro courthouse. Meeker lets Cates in and out
of his jail cell and jokes that Cates is a threat to the community.
Harrison Brady’s wife. Mrs. Brady monitors her husband and nags
him not to overeat. Brady calls her “Mother.”
twelve-year-old girl. Melinda believes in the Bible and fears the
idea of evolution.
student in Cates’s science class. Howard grasps the idea of evolution
in only a rudimentary way, as we see when he asks a worm in the
play’s opening scene what it wants to be when it grows up. At the
trial, Howard gives testimony that is used against Cates.
outspoken Hillsboro woman. On behalf of the Hillsboro Ladies’ Aid,
Mrs. Krebs serves lunch to Brady on his arrival in town.
eleven-year-old boy who drowned while swimming in a river. Cates
befriended Stebbins, who had a curious nature and enjoyed looking
through Cates’s microscope. According to Reverend Brown, Stebbins
was damned when he died because he was never baptized. Brown’s harsh
condemnation of Stebbins disgusted Cates, who stopped attending church.
member of the jury. Bannister has read neither Darwin nor the Bible
because he is illiterate.
mountain man. The illiterate Elijah sells Bibles to the townspeople
and preaches his beliefs to the crowd.
mayor of Hillsboro. The mayor supports Brady and welcomes him to
town by naming him an honorary colonel in the state militia. Under
pressure from the state capitol, he instructs the judge to pass
a lenient sentence at the trial’s conclusion.
local district attorney. Davenport assists Brady during the trial.
He attempts to stop Drummond’s humiliation of Brady at the end of
the trial, but by the time he objects, Brady has already made a
fool of himself.
Harry Y. Esterbrook
- A radio host from WGN in Chicago. Esterbrook broadcasts
the announcement of the verdict and Cates’s sentencing and cuts
off Brady in the middle of his victory speech.
Jesse H. Dunlap
- A farmer and cabinetmaker. Dunlap stands as a potential
juror, but Drummond dismisses him because of his enthusiastic support
employee at the local feed store and a member of the jury. Drummond
accepts Sillers as a juror after Sillers tells him that he focuses
on making a living while his wife takes care of religious matters
for both of them.
owner of a store across the square from the courthouse. The storekeeper
professes not to have convictions about creation because they are
not good for business.