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The Crucible And Mccarthyism Essay

Essay on The Crucible and the McCarthy Era

498 Words2 Pages

Arthur Miller's The Crucible, depicts the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692 but is analogous to the McCarthy trials of the 1950s. In both situations, widespread hysteria occurs, stemming from existing fears of the people of that particular era. The Salem witchhunt trials parallel the McCarthy era in three major aspects: unfounded accusations, hostile interrogation of numerous innocent people and the ruination and death of various people's lives.

     The unfounded accusations that Joseph McCarthy and the girls in The Crucible make are what fuels the widespread hysteria in both situations. McCarthy is quoted as declaring in a speech, "I have here in my hand a list of 205 that were known to the Secretary of…show more content…

Throughout the Salem witch trials, Judge Danforth and Hathorne would constantly badger the accused to confess. In Act III, Hathorne claims, "How do you know, then, that you are not a witch?" (Pg. 1221) After Martha Corey denies herself being a witch, Hathorne persists by saying, "Why do you hurt these children?" The hostile interrogation of both periods failed to bring forth concrete evidence for a genuine communist or witch.

     The ruination and deaths of various people of the McCarthy trials and the Salem witchhunt are appalling. Multitudinous amounts of people are affected by these trials. Over 2,000 people are accused and fired by their government positions by the end of the McCarthy trials. During the Salem witchhunt, at least twenty people are hung and 150 others are jailed. The lives of these people, being changed after the trials had to rebuild a new life for themselves. People's careers are destroyed and property is taken away, as a result. The ruination and deaths of various people are a result of Joseph McCarthy's and the girls' unfounded accusations.

     The Salem witchcraft trials are very similar to the McCarthy trials in three aspects: unfounded accusations, hostile interrogation of numerous innocent people and the ruination and death of various people's lives. Mass accusations are made for personal gain and no good has resulted from these

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The Crucible And Mccarthyism Essay

Many times it has been said that if people learn form their mistakes they are doomed to repeat them. Such is the case throughout history. There are many different examples of this, but one example is the blatant similarities between the witch hunts in Salem Massachusetts and the era of McCarthyism. When looking at either one of theses events separately it is hard to believe that they could have actually happened, not only once but, twice. If one takes the time to look at both events simultaneously they are able to make many comparisons and enable numerous similarities be seen. In The Crucible Miller creates an analogy of the witch hunts in Salem to the investigation of communists by Joseph McCarthy.

One of the many resemblance's that can be clearly seen is the way in which each of event, McCarthyism and the Salem witch hunts, had the ability to ruin a persons life through a simple accusation. An example of this is very evident in The Crucible. The character of John Proctor is accused of partaking in the crime of witchcraft. When it comes time to confess, he knows that confessing will save his physical life, but at the same time it will ruin his reputation. He said "Why must it be written?… Why must I say it?" (Miller 138, 140). Proctor knows that his confession will be posted onto the church wall for all to see. This is why he ends up tearing the confessions. If it were seen by anyone in the community John Proctor's reputation would be tarnished to the point where he could no longer show his face in Salem. He therefore chooses death over humiliation. A parallelism of this can be seen in the era of McCarthyism. If one was accused by Senator Joseph McCarthy of being a communist their lives were ruined. This process became known as blacklisting. President Truman once said "Character assassination is their stock in trade." (Lately 229). This shows how those accused of communism had their lives taken away from them. Whether it be an accusation of witchcraft or communism, both have led to the ruining of innocent peoples lives.

One of the many other resemblance's that can be seen between McCarthyism and The Crucible is the questions that were asked of those that were accused, and what they were required to do in order to save their reputation. In The Crucible those that were accused of witchcraft were often asked to recite the ten commandments. When John Proctor was being accused he was asked to recite the ten commandment by Reverend Hale, "Let you repeat them, if you will. [Proctor:] The commandment?" (Miller 66). Another occurrence of this also appears in The Crucible when Sarah Good was standing trial. She was asked by judge Hathorne to "Recite for us your commandments." (Miller 58). Suspects of...

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