Arthur Miller’ “The Crucible”: Political Parable or a Psychological Character Study?
Introduction and Biography.
Arthur Miller was one of the most important and famous American dramatists of the twentieth century. The personal experiences in his childhood (the Great Depression, stock market crash in the 1930’s, his family background) had a great influence on his later writing, “which would comment on the loss of the American Dream.” (Contemporary Authors Online). His work always had autobiographical references: Miller’s dramas were mostly family centered and the use of various family member constellations was typical for the author. One of the most important writings that deals with his past experiences in a very metaphorical way was the drama “The Crucible”, with reference to his experiences with the “Un-American Activities Committee” under the McCarthy era. This Essay is to evaluate in how far the parallels between the critical drama “The Crucible” and Miller’s past have a psychological reference to his own experiences with the McCarthy era.
The McCarthyism is explained as the “practice of publicizing accusations of political disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence” and as the “use of unfair investigatory or accusatory methods in order to suppress opposition” (Dictionary of English Language). It became a synonym for political persecution and stigmatization of dissidents and is named after Joseph Raymond McCarthy (1908-57), a US Republican senator, who led the notorious investigations of alleged Communist infiltration into the US government. A part of this investigation was the House Committee on Un-American Activities where Miller himself was called before in 1956. Some of Miller’s colleagues had also been called before the committee, too, for example his brother-like friend Elia Kazan, who (in contrast to Miller) gave several names of suspected Communists, which caused extreme embitterment in Miller...
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