Crucible and McCarthyism

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:English

Document 1

Miller was one of the people questioned by the House Of Representatives committee which was investigating people accused of being involved in Un-American activities such communism. The setting of the play is in a small town named Salem where the reigning parish minister Reverend Parris realizes some girls including his daughter and niece were engaged in strange dances in the forest. This discovery forced one of the girls by the name Betty to collapse leading to rumors of witchcraft across the town. Later on, the girls confess their sins while accusing different people of being involved in witchcraft. One of the people accused is Elizabeth, wife to John Proctor, a man who had been having an affair with Abigail, Reverend Parris’ niece. Reverend Hale an expert in witchcraft investigation is invited to take part in the trials. Author Information Arthur Asher Miller was born in New York on October 1915, before his death in February 2005. He was an accomplished playwright who mainly concentrated on social consciousness. He was a student at the University of Michigan where he started writing plays. One of the first projects that earned him recognition was “Focus” a television production and a novel talking about anti-Semitism. He also won the Pulitzer Prize in 1949 after the success of his play the “Death of a salesman. ” However, the crucible remains to be one of his biggest plays which resulted in a variety of awards and a lawsuit (Deery 5). The play was based on the Salem trials something that earned him an invite before the committee on Un-American Activities.

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He declined to name any of the people he had seen in a communist seminar leading to his conviction, but he later on appealed and won. Salem Witch Trials The 1962 Salem Witch trials marked an unfortunate period in the history of America. Over 200 citizens were accused of engaging in witchcraft-related activities, and about 20 were executed during the frenzy. The trials have always been linked to injustice and paranoia considering that most of those accused were innocent people (Deery 5). The trials continue to mesmerize people even in the modern world even though the authorities admitted that the trials were a mistake and the victims were compensated for their predicaments. The trials were motivated by the fact that Christian at the time believed the devil could give witches the power to harm others.

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Also, the rivalry between families of those linked to wealth and those dependent on agriculture is another reason that led to the Salem trials. This shows that most of the accused were people from humble backgrounds rather than rich individuals. The ladies accused of witchcraft were Osbourne, Tituba, and Sarah Good. After a series of interrogations, Osbourne and Good pleaded innocent while Tituba admitted that the devil asked her to serve him. The investigations were marred with controversy since Sarah Good’s youngest daughter was among those interrogated by the magistrates, but her fearful responses were considered as a confession. This proves that the magistrates were not interested in conducting credible trials. Bridget Bishop’s accusation might have been motivated by her negative behavior such as gossiping. Thus there were people out there who did not like her and had intentions of harming her.

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Impacts of McCarthyism McCarthyism is a United States system where claims of treason and sabotage were made without reasonable evidence. The practice was named after US Senator Joseph McCarthy. The practice happened between the 1940s and the 1950s a period commonly known as the Second Red Scare. However, a number of people lost their jobs in relation to the allegations. Others faced public condemnation for charges that they knew nothing about. As a result, the concept of McCarthyism became a common way to define persecution of innocent people. Individuals now use the term McCarthyism in a situation where one is condemned for a certain crime even when there is no evidence to prove that they committed a crime. It's common when people are accused based on pure speculation thus leading to unnecessary fear among the people.

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This suspicion affected integration capabilities in society. As a result, people started to accuse some of their own without substantial evidence (Flowers 5). Those suspected to have weird behaviors were labeled as communists. American culture was greatly affected since people no longer hand a uniting factor as fear led to vengeance and retaliation. This was a big blow to the American culture which was blossoming in the previous years especially after the Renaissance. This included a witch-hunt on Hollywood writers, actors, and directors (Miller, et al. This a practice that affected Miller directly considering that he was a writer. Also, having attended a communist rally meant that he was a person of interest in the McCarthyism. Though he refused to testify on the issue, Miller and his colleagues were blacklisted meaning that they could not take part in any Hollywood activity.

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Therefore, “the crucible” was an innocent way of condemning McCarthyism without attracting unnecessary attention mainly because Miller did not want to be identified as a covert communist. McCarthyism is a practice that has become common when describing unsubstantiated allegations and defamation of character. Although, McCarthyism was based on unproven allegations it still had serious effects on the American society. People turned against each other due to reduced trust and fear. “The Crucible” was a perfect way to address the political situation in America at the time. It was an indication of how people get convicted for crimes that they never committed.  The effects of McCarthyism on the autobiographical writings of Lillian Hellman. Harrold, D. Crucible Background Video.  Oct.  2013, www. com/watch?v=6IavxgMZA-0. Miller, A. et al.  Death of a salesman: The crucible.

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Caedmon, 2002.

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