The Witch Trials and Mccarthyism

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Arthur Miller's masterpiece, The Crucible, is a work of art inspired by actual events as a response to political and moral issues. Although the play provides an accurate account of the Salem witch-hunts and trials of 1692, its real achievement lies in the many important issues of Miller's time that it deals with. The Crucible is a searing parable of conformity and the imbalance of power of the 1950s.

In The Crucible, the need to conform to the church's views is quite apparent. Characters find themselves in situations where they must compromise their beliefs and values or face death. They must either turn their backs on what they believe in and lie by admitting to having had "relations with the Devil," thereby conforming with the church's wishes, or they must follow their individualistic beliefs and refuse to lie. Through the character Abigail Williams, Miller shows how people are willing to abandon their firmly established values in order to conform to the majority and protect themselves. Those who refuse to part with their conscience, such as the character of John Proctor, are consequently prosecuted. When Miller wrote The Crucible in the early 1950s, the United States was experiencing a modern "witch hunt" of its own. Senator Joseph McCarthy, provoked by the Cold War, became fearfully convinced that Communists were polluting American government. He intended to hunt them out, force them to confess, and make them name their associates, or face the consequences. The Salem judges imposed the same magnitude of conformity; innocent citizens were sought after, forced to confess, and if they refused to confess, they were sent to the gallows. Miller also questions the administration of justice, exposing how much power a sole individual possesses when that individual defines the ideologies or beliefs by which society lives. During the Salem Witch Trials, religion was the answer to the unfathomable and unknown. As a result, ministers and priests retained all the power...
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