History is a "chronological record of events." These events, whether positive or tragic, often repeat themselves. The McCarthy Hearings that took place in the 1950's are a good example of this. The accusations of communism led to a nation-wide hysteria and fear of who was going to be named next. When this was over, the hope would be that nothing like it would ever happen again and nothing like it had ever happened before. However, we have not only repeated it on various occasions, but through Arthur Miller's The Crucible, we also see the parallel of the event with the Salem Witch hunts that took place years before the hearings. The connection between The Crucible and the McCarthy Hearings is not an isolated one, but can also be made with other historical and current events that are happening today.
Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in response to The McCarthy Hearings. These two events can be connected in many ways; for example, people in each situation used hysteria for their own good. "Joseph McCarthy was a flagrant self-promoter" and extremely power-hungry. (Schrecker 242) He believed that by accusing people in high positions of having ties with communism that he would become a more respected figure. McCarthy's accusations were based upon little to no evidence and of the tens of thousands accused, only a handful was actually persecuted. (Fried) "Throughout the early 1950's, McCarthy continued to make accusations of communist infiltration of the U. S. government, though he failed to provide evidence... These charges received extensive media attention, making McCarthy the most famous political figure in the nation after President Harry Truman. He was also one of the most criticized." (Appleton History) McCarthy's claims were giving him his desired attention and praise. He was already at a respected level in the government, however he desired more. In October 1953, McCarthy began investigating communist infiltration the United States Military. (Fried) When Army Chief of Staff Omar Bradley was accused, McCarthy's popularity went down. Omar Bradley was a highly respected man and a true patriot. This can be connected to The Crucible because of what the main character, Abigail, does to get what she wants. Originally, all Abigail wants is a man, John Proctor. She accuses John Proctor's wife of witchcraft in order to have him all to herself. As Abigail realizes the empowerment she has gained, she begins blaming other innocent people of witchcraft. Eventually she becomes mad with power and blames Judge Hawthorne's wife. "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." McCarthy and Abigail both gained power through their accusations, and their desire for more power led to their demise.
Another similarity between McCarthyism and The Crucible is that in both situations, people blamed others to save themselves. During the McCarthy Hearings, the only way to lower the charges against you was to expose another person working for the communists. Because of this, people were wrongly accused and punished. In the Salem witch trials, people were also released if they revealed someone who has "made a compact with Lucifer."
An additional similarity between McCarthyism and The Crucible was that there were explainable events that sparked the hysteria. In the McCarthy hearings, McCarthy's false accusations sparked it. The hysteria could have been prevented simply if people were not so easily scared by the accusations and they took the time to examine their validity. In The Crucible, the event that sparked the hysteria was when the girls were dancing in the woods. This event could have been easily explained without tying it to witchcraft and many lives could have been saved.
McCarthyism and The Crucible also have many differences. For example, the witchcraft in The Crucible was unbelievable and the testimonies were from children. If people in the village used...