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McCarthyism and The Crucible

Similarities between 'The Crucible' and 1950's McCarthyism

Anna Wilkins

on 29 November 2012

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Transcript of McCarthyism and The Crucible

Similarities between McCarthyism and The Crucible ~ The Salem Witch Trials consisted of a series of hearings and prosecutions towards people accused of practicing witchcraft throughout colonial Massachusetts. This took place between February 1692 and May 1693.
~ These trials are widely known as one of the most infamous cases of mass hysteria in American history.
~ The case has been used as an example throughout popular literature to portray the potential dangers of false accusations, isolationism and religious extremism. Thus meaning these trials have been highly influential in post American history.
~ "More than once it has been said, too, that the Salem witchcraft was the rock on which the theocracy shattered." - George Lincoln Burr

Millers Intentions ~ Miller intended 'The Crucible' to be a gateway in which he could share his view point on Communism; he wanted to let the world know the extreme numbers of people that were accusing each other of being Communist in 1950's America.
~ However, Miller was aware that if he wrote a text directly on Communism it would not be published, therefore he chose another event which had many parallels e.g the extremity of accusations. This led him to the Salem witch trials.
McCarthyism was the fear of communism which spread across America in the 1950's. The hysteria of the american citizens was due to the threat that communism would spread across the globe. This is when the paranoia began to start. During this period the FBI accused many people of communism thus meaning that the accused suffered from job loss and many of their lives, as they knew, were destroyed. The movement took the name from the anti-communist leader Joseph McCarthy. Salem Witch Trials The late 1940s & 50s saw the increase of anti-communist sentiment throughout America which created a Red Scare in which McCarthyism exploded leading to the loss of many jobs particularly in the entertainment industry. Parallels ~ McCarthy was delusional as were the girls; with both sets of people making unsubstantiated claims regarding the existence of evil with no proof.
~ McCarthy's claims ruined lives and caused tension throughout America, similarly the claims which the girls made in Salem increased hostility in the village.
~ In both cases those accused were assumed guilty, put on trial and expected to confess leading to serious sanctions e.g death in Salem and being blacklisted in 1950's America.
~ The media were unwilling to stand up to McCarthy as they feared being accused of being communist themselves, this links to Salem as the towns people lacked courage with regards to standing up in court as they also feared accusation. However, in this case it was the accusation of being named a witch.
~ Arthur Miller was called before the House Of Un-American Activities Committee having been accused of being a communist, he was subsequently blacklisted thus leading him to live in England and later write 'The Crucible'.
Modern Day Witch Hunt KKK- Resentment towards people because they are insecure about their place in society therefore this insecurity is transferred into hatred towards people who are visually different to them, or hold beliefs which could be seen to go against their own, therefore they are perceived as a threat.
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