The Crucible and Mccarthyism

Topics: Salem witch trials, The Crucible, McCarthyism Pages: 4 (1427 words) Published: September 11, 2013
The American Heritage Dictionary defines McCarthyism as “The political practise of publicizing accusations of disloyalty or subversion with insignificant regard to evidence.” Arthur Millers ‘The Crucible’ is an extended metaphor representing the parallels between the Salem witch-hunts and accusations of communism during the McCarthyism era. Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in response to the unwarranted persecution of many Americans, who were accused of communist ties or associating with Communist governments. Two of the themes presented throughout The Crucible are Witchcraft and Personal Integrity. Miller sets up the parallel between The Crucible and McCarthyism by presenting Salem to be a puritan society and a theocracy, which would make the devil and those communing with him enemies of the town. It follows that America, then, is a democracy, which would make communism the modern devil and communists enemies of America. Witchcraft is the most important theme in Arthur Miller's The Crucible, for it is from the belief in witchcraft that the action of the story is fully displayed. Witchcraft in The Crucible can be interpreted as a parallel of the paranoia about communism that was prevalent during the 1950s. Just as McCarthy considered everything that was un-American to be communist, the Puritan society believed everything that didn’t conform to their religion to be the work of the devil. Act 1 of The Crucible commences with Reverend Parris, praying and weeping over his daughter, Betty, who has taken sick. Parris is a grim, stern man suffering from paranoia. He believes that the members of his congregation have formed a faction and are trying to get rid of him. PARRIS: Child. Sit you down. Now look you, child - if you trafficked with spirits in the forest, I must know it, for surely my enemies will, and they’ll ruin me with it… Abigail, do you understand that I have many enemies?

ABIGAIL: I know it, Uncle.
PARRIS: There is a faction that is sworn to drive me...
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