In the play, The Crucible, the symbolism of the characters play a very important role that go along with the time era of McCarthyism. Arthur Miller’s purpose of the characters in The Crucible was to show what people were like during the 1940s and 1950s. Symbolism is the use of an object, person, or event to represent something. In this case, Miller uses symbolism to signify the characters as people during the time of McCarthyism. In works like these, symbolism makes the story seem like every character is important and gives meaning to the story. Miller uses The Crucible as a way to vent out his feelings about the political issues and problems going on during this time. As he states, “The Crucible was an act of desperation. Much of my desperation branched out, I suppose, from a typical Depression, the blow struck on the mind by the European Fascism and the brutal anti-Semitism it had brought to power” (Miller). He wrote the play as a way to show how he felt about the way of politics and its injustice.
Miller’s fear of communism encouraged him to write this play about the struggle to hold on to pride and a sense of character in a world seen as being full of false values. He compared the Salem witch trials to the McCarthy hearings. The McCarthy era was seen to be the making of accusations of disloyalty, rebellion or treason without evidence. Many took this as an advantage.
Abigail Williams is one of the many girls involved in the witch trials. Throughout the play, Abigail is seen to be very manipulative and represents the girls who cannot be trusted. Miller portrays Abigail to be a conniving young girl who always gets her way. This goes to show what Miller thought of the women during the McCarthy era. Abigail lies about being involved with the devil and gets other girls to help up start a riot and cause havoc that lead to the trials. Many of the teenage girls involved were convinced that they were cursed by the devil. The punishment for the accused witches was prison or sometimes even execution. In order for one to not be punished, they would have to accuse another person of witch craft, which helped Miller to symbolize these women as deceiving and harsh people.
Throughout Act One, Abigail seems to be getting her way using trickery and blame. Miller allows Abigail’s words to be believed by the judges and higher authorities in the play, but the audience knows that she is a fake. He gives her qualities that allow her to dominate over the rest of the girls and show that Abby is one magnificent liar. Miller uses the witch trials to show the hypocrisy, jealousy, and vengeance of the time era, and uses Abby to portray it. Could Abby also symbolize Miller’s distrust in women? The Crucible is evidence that Miller partakes of similar fears about wicked, angry, or wise women; even if his complicity in such gynecophobia is unwitting [or accidental] (Schissel).
Miller’s symbolization of Abby being compared to the hypocritical ways of McCarthyism show how strongly he felt about the politics. Revealing the women of the time as such horrible people and makers of brutal actions represent the corrupt ways of the system. In other characters, Miller saw some good. He made John Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth, the complete opposite of Abigail. Coincidently, Abby had an affair with John, committing adultery. Although this makes Abby look worse, it made Elizabeth look like an angel.
Even though Elizabeth knew about John’s affair with Abby, she still loved him unconditionally. Elizabeth represents the only good thing left in John’s life and although he lied to her, she remains faithful. During the play, we see Elizabeth fight for John and when people found out about the affair, she stood up for him. Miller wanted to represent Elizabeth as a caring and loving person, unlike Abigail. He tied them two together just like fire and ice. Abigail embodied the bad of the politics of the McCarthy era, and Elizabeth as the little hope Miller had in...
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