The Hillsboro Trial, like the Scopes Trial on which it is based, is called, in the press, a “monkey trial.” This derives from the teaching of evolution, and the misbegotten, popular notion of evolution, that humans are descended from monkeys. (In reality, Darwin’s theory suggests that monkeys and humans shared a common ancestor, and diverged from one another biologically many, many millions of years ago). Hornbeck talks to a monkey, accompanying an organ-grinder, in Act One, joking that the monkey might be related to some of those present in Hillsboro. The idea of a “monkey trial” also includes the colloquial sense of “monkey-houses” as places where crazy people live with, and attempt to communicate with, one another. At times, the Hillsboro Trial verges on the absurd, as ideas about the nature of God and humankind are thrown around in a courtroom, and as Brady and others make grand pronouncements about God’s will for his people. Lawrence and Lee wish to show that monkeys ought not to be a replacement for man’s relationship to God. Rather, monkeys merely serve as a vestigial indicator of man’s heritage on earth—his interrelation to other animals, and his scientific lineage as a product of earth’s own development.
Monkeys Quotes in Inherit the Wind
The Inherit the Wind quotes below all refer to the symbol of Monkeys. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:).
Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes
Did you hear that, my friends? “Old World Monkeys”! According to Mr. Cates, you and I aren’t even descended from good American monkeys!
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Monkeys Symbol Timeline in Inherit the Wind
The timeline below shows where the symbol Monkeys appears in Inherit the Wind. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
...reporter for the Baltimore Herald. When an organ-grinder, a street entertainer, enters with a dancing monkey, Hornbeck jokingly talks to the monkey, and asks if it will be testifying in the... (full context)
...Storekeeper responds that “opinions are bad for business.” Hornbeck jokingly talks again to the organ-grinder’s monkey, saying he (the monkey) is Brady’s ancestor. Townspeople waive banners (DOWN WITH DARWIN and DON’T... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Act 3, Scene 1