Analysing the Historical Content of the Crucible

Topics: The Crucible, Salem witch trials, McCarthyism Pages: 4 (1394 words) Published: June 12, 2005
In this essay, I intend to analyse the historical content of The Crucible and its relevance in today's society. I believe that Arthur Miller's life and his experience of McCarthyism strongly influenced the writing of The Crucible.

McCarthyism, named after Joseph McCarthy was a period of intense anti-communism, which occurred in the United States from 1948 to about 1956. During this time the government of the United States persecuted the Communist party USA, its leadership, and many others suspected of being communists. The word McCarthyism now carries the suggestion of false, hysterical accusation and large scale attacks on a minority. This anticommunist crusade stumbled in 1954, when the hearings were televised allowing the press and public to view McCarthy's bullying tactics. He suffered a backlash in public opinion, and was then, himself investigated and McCarthy faded from the spotlight overnight.

In my opinion, Arthur Miller's The Crucible takes two of the worst moments in American history, and uses them to demonstrate the pressure on people from society, to conform. Miller takes the Salem Witch trials and uses them to reflect on the McCarthyism period. By using religion as a sort of substitute for politics, Miller was able to see the similarities between the McCarthy era and the actions of the Puritans in Salem. Each event was just as cruel and merciless as the other, and even though the Salem Witch trials had occurred over 200 years before The Crucible was written, by using it to mirror the McCarthy era, the spirit of persecution was re-awoken. Just as McCarthy considered everything "Un-American" to be Communist, the Puritans in The Crucible thought everything un-explainable to be the work of the devil, and in both cases, the authorities demanded conformity.

In The Crucible people were put on trial and killed when they did something "un-explainable". I think part of how Arthur Miller put this across as them being killed over whether or not it is...
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