Henry Drummond, the deuteragonist, or character second in importance in Inherit the Wind, can be considered the hero of the play. Functioning as the mouthpiece for Lawrence and Lee, Drummond fights for man's right to think as well as "the right to be wrong." He saves the townspeople of Hillsboro from their narrow-minded fundamentalist views.
In comparison to the Scopes trial, Drummond represents Clarence Darrow, who was the defense attorney for John Scopes. Both Darrow and the character of Drummond are similar in appearance, defend the underdog, put the prosecuting attorney on the witness stand, and lose the trial only to immediately appeal the verdict. Darrow, however, unlike Drummond, had a hostile demeanor and was sarcastic and condescending. His reason for defending Scopes was to expose the ignorance of fundamentalism; Drummond's mission is to find the truth.
Drummond is a "slouching hulk of a man." He is bent over and his head juts forward. He dresses fashionably and is evidently a sophisticated man from the North. He is idealistic and claims to be an agnostic, believing that knowing whether God exists isn't possible. Drummond has been sent to Hillsboro at the request of the Baltimore Herald to defend Cates. He is an intelligent, shrewd, and skilled courtroom attorney, well known for defending notorious criminals. He agrees to defend Cates because he believes in freedom of thought.
Given the portrayal of the townspeople, their initial reaction to the news that Drummond is defending Cates alerts the audience to the fact that Drummond is the antithesis to the values that are entrenched in Hillsboro. This dichotomy is most apparent when Melissa, a young girl, first sees him and screams that he is the devil.
Unfazed at being shunned by the townspeople, Drummond is self-confident and charming in the courtroom. He speaks in a folksy tone of voice, albeit businesslike and purposeful, and reveals his sense of humor. For example, he laughs about his purple suspenders, evidence that he is a nonconformist and, as such, different from the residents of Hillsboro.
During the trial, Drummond's sensitive and caring demeanor for his client and his passion for justice become evident. He is angry when Brady is referred to as "Colonel" for no apparent reason, a situation that is prejudicial to his case. When the judge and mayor of Hillsboro bestow a temporary honorary title on him, Drummond appears "politely amused." He is adamant about wanting a fair trial and jurors who can think for themselves, not jurors who "are run through a meat-grinder so they all come out the same." Drummond's goal is to prevent narrow-minded people from altering the Constitution of the United States with old-fashioned nonsense. He is empathetic toward Cates and his lonely situation. He is committed to defending Cates and respects Cates for "standing up when everybody else is sitting down."
When the judge tells Drummond that he cannot call his witnesses, the audience sees Drummond's quick mind, his ability to function under pressure, and his creativity. Changing tactics, he calls Brady, the prosecuting attorney, to the witness stand as an expert on the Bible. Although unorthodox, the situation is particularly significant because it pits one great man against another.
Drummond's character serves as a foil for Brady's character. This function becomes particularly evident during Drummond's cross-examination of Brady. Drummond's patient demeanor and open-minded, progressive way of thinking accentuates Brady's narrow-minded way of thinking. By hammering away at the inconsistencies and eventually attacking Brady's self-anointed status of prophet, Drummond is able to sway the spectator's support in his direction, to open their eyes to truth. As he tells Cates the story of Golden Dancer, the rocking horse that was "all shine and no substance," he makes clear that the true hero is one who discloses lies and stands up for truth.
Even though Cates is found guilty, Drummond wins a moral victory. He reveals his integrity when he defends freedom of thought, even for those he disagrees with. When Hornbeck criticizes Brady and Brady's fundamentalist beliefs, Drummond tells Hornbeck that " . . . Brady had the same right as Cates: the right to be wrong!"
Drummond is a static character; he does not change during the action of the play. At the play's beginning, Drummond is in Hillsboro to defend freedom of thought, and he has little patience for narrow-minded people who criticize the beliefs of others. At the end of the play, Drummond feels the same way and is still fighting for people's "right to be wrong."