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Crucible Witch Hunts Essay

The Witch Hunt in The Crucible and During the Time of McCarthyism

1356 Words6 Pages

In this essay, I intend to analyse the historical context of The Crucible and its relevance in today’s society. I believe that Arthur Miller’s life and his experience of McCarthyism strongly influenced the writing of The Crucible.

McCarthyism, named after Joseph McCarthy was a period of intense anti-communism, which occurred in the United States from 1948 to about 1956. During this time the government of the United States persecuted the Communist party USA, its leadership, and many others suspected of being communists. The word McCarthyism now carries the suggestion of false, hysterical accusation and large scale attacks on a minority. This anticommunist crusade stumbled in 1954, when the hearings were televised allowing the press and…show more content…

Both The Crucible and McCarthyism involved people being wrongly accused of actions that they did not commit. Also, if someone in The Crucible confesses to being a witch in order to save their life, then their reputation is ruined and no one will ever view them the same way. In both McCarthyism and the Salem witch trials, if the person was not convicted, their image would be ruined and they would have a hard time building their image back to the way it was. Some cooperated but others, like Miller, refused to give in to questioning. Those who were revealed, falsely or legitimately, as Communists, and those who refused to incriminate their friends, saw their careers suffer, as they were blacklisted from potential jobs for many years afterward.

The society in Salem was a theocracy, a government based on religious beliefs. Therefore any sin would be seen as an offence against the public as well as against God. Sins, especially in Salem would most likely have been hidden away from public view, and this would also explain the way Miller wrote The Crucible. Everyone seemed to know, or want to know everyone else’s business. In both McCarthyism and the Salem witch trials, there was a huge amount of pressure to reveal the secret sins of friends and neighbours. People, therefore began to take advantage of this, and began using the opportunity to take out personal grudges, for example

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"Mc Carthyism" Vs. The Witch Trials In "The Crucible"

In today's society, many people are accused of crimes so absurd that when put to trial, they name others of the same crime. This is to redirect the focus from them to others. "The Crucible" and in "McCarthyism" had the same influence on people. People were accused of witchcraft and being communist, so they accused others to lessen their penalty and redirect focus. "The Crucibl"e is about the witch trials in Salem in 1692. "McCarthyism" is about the communist trials in the United States during 1950 to 1954. These two events in history are very similar, yet also very different.

Both the witch trials and McCarthyism had innocent people wrongly accused, had reputations ruined, had people put in jail or worse, and the accused had very little choices afterward. In both cases, many were wrongly accused of being a witch or being communist. In The Crucible, Abigail and Betty accuse many of being "with the devil" (pg. 48). They accused others to blame others for being caught dancing in the woods one night. Once it got started, the "whole country's talkin' of witchcraft!" (pg. 18). Senator Joseph McCarthy accused others of being a communist to stop the fear of communists, to stop an uprising against the government, and to stop espionage, whether the accused were innocent or not. The fear of the communists led to the "Red Scare" (named after the communist color: red). (http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/Dl/McCarthy/McCarthy documents.html) One instance is a big Hollywood investigation, where the House of Un-American Activities Committees (HUAC) investigated 41 people, named the "friendly witnesses" who blacklisted 19 people. The "Hollywood Ten" refused to talk or name names, using the first amendment as justice to their cause. Those ten were sent to jail for six to twelve months. (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk.USAmccarthyism.htm) This emphasizes the point that the accused had very little choices. The choices were to: A. to confess, and live and not be jailed, B. to name others, or C. be silent and be put in jail or worse, put to death. Both events in history had people lose their excellent reputation or had people lose their lives, jobs, and everything. Both McCarthyism and the witch trials had wrongly...

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