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McCarthyism in Arthur Miller´s "The Crucible"

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Lena Lund

on 2 June 2015

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Transcript of McCarthyism in Arthur Miller´s "The Crucible"

McCarthyism in Arthur Miller´s "The Crucible"
Presentation by Saskia and Lena
What is McCarthyism?

Comparison Witch Trials - McCarthy Hearings

Group Work 1

5 minute break

Focus on Miller and Proctor - Group Work 2

Miller´s intended frame


What is McCarthyism?
Comparison Witch Trials - McCarthy Hearings
The practice of making accusations of disloyalty, especially of Pro-Communist activities, in many instances unsupported by proof or based on slight, doubtful, or irrelevant evidence.
Group Work 1
Read the description of the person and decide by which character from "The Crucible" they are portrayed.
Focus on Miller and Proctor -
Group Work 2
Miller´s intended frame
no interpretation possibilities
reader knows that it is partly fictional and associates the characters with the people taking part in the McCarthy era
criticism concerning the McCarthy accusations becomes clear
his personal experience with McCarthyism
1. Explain Miller´s situation during the McCarthy era while taking the mentality of the accused into consideration.

2. Compare the life of Arthur Miller with his character John Proctor from his play "The Crucible".

3. Comment on Miller´s situation in which the play "The Crucible" was "an act of desperation" (Miller).
"Second Red Scare"
"McCarthy era": 1947 - 1956 (McCarthy 1950 - 1955)
important institutions / persons:
Joseph McCarthy (Republican U.S. Senator)
HUAC (House of Un-American Activities Committee)
J. Edgar Hoover (FBI)
Martin Dies jr. (first chairman in HUAC)
by Herbert Block, 29/03/1950, Washington Post
McCarthy Hearings
: HUAC investigates 47 volunteered people from the Hollywood film industry = the Friendly Witnesses
Salem Witch Trials
: Joseph McCarthy announces he has a Blacklist of communist State Department employees
: 3 girls are having fits and accuse a slave, Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn of being witches
special court summoned
McCarthy Hearings
Salem Witch Trials
: 109 "investigations" in total, carried out by HUAC and also other committees
-> many imprisoned
: many accused of witchcraft, not only by the girls
-> 26 people condemned to death by hanging, one killed by torture
2nd December 1954
McCarthy censured because of "conduct
that tends to bring the Senate in dishonor and
: Governor Phipps prohibits accusations & arrests on "spectral evidence", pardones accused people, denies enforcement of court
McCarthy Hearings
Salem Witch Trials
thinks it is his duty to free country of communists
retain post
make people pay attetion to communist dominance and threat
wants to clear her name after being accused as a witch
wants to get rid of "bad people"
dirty jars = dirty accusations
instable evidence
people are McCarthy´s supporters
elephant = Republican party
-> cannot have stable position
with McCarthy
"In an ordinary crime, how does one defend the accused? One calls up witnesses to prove his innocence. But witchcraft is ipso facto, on its face and by it´s nature, an invisible crime, is it not? Therefore, who may possibly be witness to it? The witch and the victim. None other. Now we cannot hope the witch will accuse herself; granted? Therefore, we must rely upon her victims - and they do testify, the children certainly do testify. As for the witches, none will deny that we are most eager for all their confessions. Therefore, what is left or a lawyer to bring out?"
Judge Danforth, The Crucible, page 103, ll. 10-19
Thank you
for your attention!
Do you have any questions?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zF38CTK0EH U
I. Comment on how Arthur Miller criticized

II. Do you think this way of criticism is effective?
Explain why.
-> other people start
doing same
Full transcript