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The Crucible by Arthur Miller

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After World War II a common fear in the U.S that came about was Communism. In the 1950’s Senator McCarthy claimed he knew of communists in the U.S that were part of the government. He led searches for these people and put them on trial without any proof of the accused; this became known as the Red Scare. This event in history has been found most similar to the Salem Witch Trials. Arthur Miller wrote a play called The Crucible that told the tale about how the Salem Witch Trials came to be. Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible as an allegory so that he could express his criticism towards McCarthyism.

In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible the main character Abigail is depicted as Senator McCarthy. She was put in a situation where she was accused of being a witch and tried to benefit from the problem by lying to the town. She and the other girls in the town claimed to see people of the town with the devil and claimed they were witches. “I danced for the Devil; I saw him; I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osborn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!” Abigail wanted to be with John Proctor but knew that if his wife was still alive he would not betray her again. Abigail then accused Elizabeth proctor of being a witch to get her out of the way. Senator McCarthy was afraid of loosing power so he made false claims of people being communists so that he may gain power and he stole money from the founds for his own personal benefit. When John Proctor was arrested Abigail realized that she had gone too far with her lies and what she wanted was corrupted. It is said that while the U.S was in a panic from the Red Scare the S.U was able to benefit from that scare more than become weakened. “Ironically, the greatest threat to American freedom in the fifties was not the communism that was feared by so many, but the spread of irrational anticommunism and the rise of right wingers and fascists who were willing to suspend civil liberties and other constitutional rights and freedoms in order to fight an overblown communist threat.”
Another character that can be related to people involved with the Red Scare is Reverend Hale. Reverend Hale is a man with a good heart and only wants to try and help but his findings were not true. He only realized that the accused were innocent too late. The people he was trying to help were hanged. When the FBI tried to prove that McCarthy was not telling the truth the people they were investigating got arrested because they were thought to be communists. Nineteen people were hanged before the court realized that the whole thing was a sham. The Rosenburg’s were tried and found guilty and put to death before the country realized that the evidence was unjust.

The reason why Miller wrote an allegory instead of writing directly about the Red Scare was because it would not be politically popular. Like John Proctor was accused of being a witch; “You’re the Devil’s man!” Miller might have been accused of being a communist and that would not have done the country any good. The benefits of writing an allegory were that no one could directly accuse Miller of being anti McCarthyism. Within an allegory Miller was also able to compare and contrast how similar the Red Scare was to the Salem witch trials. When people today look back on the Salem witch trials they realize how ridiculous they were; the same thing is now done with the Red Scare. Society is easily persuaded when set in a stage of fear and hatred.

McCarthy was a power hungry man and didn’t care if his actions affected other people. He created a nation wide panic called the Red Scare. His careless actions are depicted in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible where Miller writes a play about the Salem witch trials. His play was discovered as an allegory to the Red Scare and helped people realize how ridiculous the panic actually was. Society is easily persuaded when set in a stage of fear and hatred.



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