McCarthyism and The Crucible

Topics: The Crucible, Salem witch trials, McCarthyism Pages: 2 (400 words) Published: May 13, 2014
Why am I being accused?

McCarthyism had a profound effect upon the American society, much as the witch trials did upon the people of Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600's recounted in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. The manner of the interrogations is extremely similar in both situations. In McCarthy's interrogations, everyone is treated roughly in the same manner and accused wrongfully. Similarly in The Crucible, the accused are questioned repeatedly until they are broken. In Langston Hughes' interrogation, some of the questions he is asked are as follows: “Have you ever been a Communist? … Have you ever attended a Communist party meeting? … Have you ever believed in Communism?” ( The interrogator asks the same questions over and over by just rephrasing a few words all the while frantically searching for a slight variation in the answers he receives. Similarly in The Crucible, John Proctor is questioned in almost the same manner. In Act III, Danforth becomes the interrogator: “Have you ever seen the Devil? … You are in all respects a Gospel Christian? … Do you read the Gospel?” (Miller 90-91). Proctor has become the Langston Hughes of Salem. He's being accused for something he hasn't done, and is being asked the same question repeatedly in a semi-futile effort to get a different response.

An interesting link between McCarthyism and The Crucible is the fact that there are scapegoats that are blamed for any trouble that there is. In the McCarthy Trials, that would be the Communists. In The Crucible, it is the witches. In David Ayman's interrogation by Roy Cohn, a certain question is asked that stands out, that defines what they are looking to blame something on: “Were any of those persons Communists?” (Ayman). The government is only searching for the Communists at this point so it looks like they've found the enemy, and that the public will have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately this will end in some persons getting falsely accused of Communism...
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