Q.Explore the ways in which Lawrence and Lee make Brown contribute so much to the dramatic impact of the play?
The above given play “Inherit the Wind”, is written by Lawrence and Lee and was first published in the 1920s. They use the character Reverend Jeremiah Brown, to amplify dramatical impact of the play. He is the “head of the religious community in Hillsboro” and his “fervent” beliefs in the Bible intensify the dramatic conventions in the play. Lawrence and lee use dramatic dialogues, stage directions and character delineation to do so effectively.
Lawrence and lee use dialogue delivery and diction to help convey this dramatic character. Being the religious head of Hillsboro, an extremely conservative town, the reverend is expected to be a powerful and strong character, this reflected in his dialogues. What makes this extremely dramatic however, is the fact that the reverend always put his religion above even his family. He even went as far as to force his daughter to reveal private conversations she had held with Cates in order to help make Brady’s case stronger. It is extremely fascinating for the reader to see a sudden shift in tone when the reverend addresses his daughter and when he addresses Brady. Where he seen to be ”fierce” to his daughter, he is gentle and humble towards Brady. He put his own daughter in an emotional torment
but still does not fail to show his pride in her religious upbringing and his teachings of always doing “the right thing”. He is also extremely proud and confident of the conservationist mindset of Hillsboro and the people who are “fervent in their belief”. This amplifies the dramatic impact of the play and compliments the image of Hillsboro as a town which was about to be “vigorously awakened”. Furthermore, during the prayer meeting, the reverend is seen to be an extremely powerful character, who even manages to overshadow Brady, with use of extremely powerful diction. He uses words like “sinner”, “hellfire” and “curse” to depict the aggression and antagonism within the fundamentalists which sets forth the play. Lawrence and Lee use Brown’s sermon to both remind the audience of the creation story as it is told in the Bible and to illustrate how narrow-minded the anti-evolutionists are. Another element that brown uses in his speech is exaggeration. “O lord of the Tempest and the Thunder!”, “O lord of the Righteousness and the Wrath!”, the style of writing adds depth to the dialogues. The reference to the archaic English “thou” and “didst” emphasises on the hyperbolic tone of the scene. Lawrence and lee clearly describe the hatred Brown has towards the evolutionist and use it to make the play more dramatic. In this meeting, Brown is revealed as a hard-hearted person who shows no compassion for another human being (Cates) or his own child (Rachel). “though they be blood of my blood, and flesh of my flesh!” the statement strongly advocates brown’s uncaring behaviour towards Rachel. It is made clear that religious banners have redistricted his thoughts to such an extent that he went against his own blood.
The playwrights also use stage directions to make Browns character so dramatic. It depicts the gestures, emotions and tone with which Brown delineates his dialogues. During the prayer meeting, the playwrights use stage directions ti the fullest to create an image of rising tension in the air due to the reverend. They help portray him as a powerful and influential character. The playwrights describe how every eye was on the reverend at his prayer meeting by calling him a “Combination of Milton Sills and Douglas Fairbanks”. Both of them were actors in the 1950, who played extremely influential roles. This could probably be a pun, to probably show that his speech and actions were nothing more than an act or to probably elucidate what a good and powerful orator the revered was. This is further built up by the usage of phrases like “reaching out”, “whispering”, “whipping em up” and “milking the expectant pause”. The result of his powerful oratory skills is clearly visible when voices of the audience rise in a “crescendo”. The playwrights further exclaim how “each voice” was “mightier than the last”. It therefore provides an image and antagonism the dialogue must have been said. The comparative degree “mightier “also focuses on the fact that the crowdsn mind was slowly been captured by the fundamentalist and the crowd‘s belief for Brady and bitterness for Cates both shoot up. This contributes in making the play dramatic. At this point, Rachel also enters, but “remains at the fringes of the crowd”. This could show how Rachel was afraid of her father and probably even ashamed to face him as she had gone against his wishes and had sided with Cates. This further reiterates how the reverend chose his religion and profession to be above his family. Usage of phrases like “Rachel slips off” and “She rushes to the platform” further display her helplessness in the matter.
What further contribute in making his character so dramatic is his hatred for evolutionists, Drummond and Hornbeck is particular. At the very onset of the play, when the character of Drummond has not even been introduced o the audience, he is ridiculed in public by Brown. His features are compared to those of an animal and portrayed as a villain who will plague the minds of the citizens of Hillsboro. Brown calls him “an agent of darkness” , “the devil himself”, “agnostic” and even goes as far as to deny him entry into the town. Even once Drummond has entered the town, Brown continues to detest him and “glowers at Drummond” at the prayer meeting. Brown seems to hate Hornbeck in a similar fashion. Even when he doesn’t know him, he holds “negative connotations”. Brown is clearly the head of conservative ideologies, Drummond and hornbeck are the representative of creationist ideologies. Their feud foreshadows how their ideologies can never coexist and one will always come out on top. This helps in further intensifying the drama in the play.
According to me, what makes the character to Reverend Jeremiah Brown so dramatic, is the command he held over the people of Hillsboro. At the time of the prayer meeting, for the first time, he is in the spotlight. His presence dominates even Brady who is “the biggest man in the country next to the president”. This shows how he was quite a authority figure in the stagnant minds of the citizens of Hillsboro. He held an strong grip over their religion and in turn their lives and was easily able to manipulate their wills to his cause against the “evil-utionists”. This elucidates in the readers mind, the power to unite that religion holds, of how it has the power to hypnotise and blindfold people against a common cause. This is exactly what Drummond and Cates and fighting against, and thus the reverend and his blind faith in his religion, can be seen as the antagonists in the play.
Thus by using dramatic dialogues, stage directions and character delineation, Lawrence and Lee make Brown’s character contribute so much to the dramatic impact of the play.