Mccarthyism in the Crucible/1984

Topics: Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Crucible, George Orwell Pages: 6 (1026 words) Published: February 6, 2011
McCarthyism in The Crucible / 1984

Throughout history millions of people have found themselves to be guilty for crimes they

did not commit , with little to no evidence, and suffered the consequences of being scorned,

arrested, and tortured , also known as McCarthyism. One can clearly see that McCarthyism is

evident in both the play “The Crucible” and the novel 1984 by George Orwell, although

conveyed a bit differently, one can also find similarities between The Crucible and 1984

regarding McCarthyism.

The Crucible and 1984 share some similarities when it comes to McCarthyism. Both in

Salem, Massachusetts and the country of Oceania, it’s residents had to follow strict laws without

question. For example, in Salem everyone was expected to know their Ten Commandments and

to not know it would be counted as being a non-puritan. When John Proctor is asked to recall his

Ten Commandments, he forgets adultery. Reverend Hale at this point while having a deep

thought and with a worried face lets Proctor know that even something like that cannot be

counted as a small thing and excused as it is the duty for every puritan to know this. Things like

this were not accepted in a superstitious society like Salem. This made the society of Salem no

different to the society of Oceania as both societies thought that to have a perfect society meant

that the people had to sacrifice their free will in exchange. The people of Salem woke up, went to

church, worked, and slept as an everyday cycle of life. In Oceania, where people are

controlled and oppressed by the Party, led by the Big Brother, free speech, rebellious and

independent thought are forbidden. People who fail to abide by the strict laws are taken away by

the Thought Police and punished severely for disobeying the Party. In 1984, the main character

Winston Smith, is employed as a records editor. Disliking the current government, he starts a

journal of his rebellious thoughts against the Party. If discovered, this journal will result in his

execution. To be safe, Winston only writes when safe from the view of the surveying telescreens. Although McCarthyism is evident in both The Crucible and 1984, the authors convey

McCarthyism a bit differently in both stories. One difference is that The Crucible was set in a

different time and with a different type of system or government controlling the society.

Although both had strict laws that it’s residents had to abide by without question, 1984 had a

totalitarian government that was tightly controlled and everyone was monitored closely, while in

The Crucible was set in a time of superstition and religious extremism that controlled the day

today choices of life. In The Crucible, girls accused others for having relations with the devil.

The accused would then be sent to trial, most often, the accused would find themselves guilty

for something they did not commit, and be sentences to death or imprisonment. In 1984, when

one was found to be disobeying the strict laws set in Oceania, such as when Winston was found

to be in a love affair with another of the main characters Julia, he was taken away by the Thought

Police to be tortured brutally. Winston’s torturer quizzes Winston asking him how many fingers

he was holding up, Winston replies “four” as he is being constantly tortured. ‘Four, Stop it, stop i

it! How can you go on? Four! Four!’ ‘How many fingers, Winston?’ ‘Five! Five! Five!’ This

time the exclamation marks show the pain and weakening of Winston’s individualist beliefs.

The last sentence, he cries out ‘Five! Five! Five!’ which was the point he had given up.

The pain, for believing in something he wanted to believe had only brought him pain and


Arthur Miller and George Orwell have similar views towards the theme of Power and

Authority Both readings also show how easily power can be...
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