WITCHES AND COMMUNISTS
THE RELATION BETWEEN ARTHUR MILLERS’ THE CRUCIBLE AND THE MCCARTHY ERA By
The Americas la
Dr. Tim Jelfs15 October, 2014
Between February 1692 and May 1693, in several towns in the state of Massachusetts, dozens of people were accused of witchcraft. Nineteen people were sentenced to death by the state government because of all the villagers that accused each other of being possessed by the devil. In contemporary times, these events are generally known as the Salem witch trials. A few hundred years later, in the early 1950’s, author Arthur Miller wrote a play about this part of American history called The Crucible. In this analysis I will argue that The Crucible, a play with hysteria and paranoia as main themes, partly represents the McCarthy Era, in which hundreds of United States inhabitants were accused of being communistic without hard evidence. After the second World War, the world immediately got caught up in another war that would cover many years: the Cold War. It was a time of military and political tension between the United States capitalists and the Soviet communists. Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953, when Senator Joseph McCarthy accused dozens of people who worked for the US government of being communist infiltrators, without any evidence. The fear he spread among the people from the United States at that time is comparable to the fear for witches that the inhabitants of Salem spread in their own villages. “The witch-hunt was a perverse manifestation of the panic which set in among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individual freedom” (Miller, 16). This sentence illustrates that the witch-hunt was the product of mass-panic, just as the hunt for communists was. The Crucible is not fully relatable to McCarthyism. As Miller himself says his article “Why I Wrote The Crucible” in The New Yorker: “McCarthy’s power to stir fears of creeping...
Cited: Miller, Arthur. The Crucible (Penguin Classics). London: Penguin Classics, 2003.
Miller, Arthur. "Why I Wrote The Crucible: An Artist 's Answer to Politics." New Yorker 21 (1996).
Please join StudyMode to read the full document