Salem Witch Trials and Mccarthyism in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

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In the 1950s Americans lived in fear of infiltration of their own country. Everyone from military personnel to actors and writers was being put on trial for being suspected communists, mainly done by Senator Joseph McCarthy. This wave of fear was called the Red Scare, this Red Scare was also called McCarthyism, and it started accusing innocent mostly innocent people of something they weren’t doing and questioning people unconstitutionally. This persecution of the innocent inspires Arthur Miller to write his most famous play ‘The Crucible’ where innocent people were accused of being witches, also known as the Salem Witch Trials. Arthur Miller’s famous American play ‘The Crucible’ is an excellent allegory for the persecution of the innocent’s during McCarthy’s Red Scare and during the Salem Witchcraft Trials.

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A key element in both the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism was the punishment for refusing to confess. When Tituba was interrogated by Hale she becomes fearful when she is told she will hang if she doesn’t confess, ‘No, no, don’t hang Tituba! I tell him I don’t desire to for him, sir.’(Miller 44;act 1). She then continues to confess the names of suspected witches so she can save herself from being hanged. This is also shown in the trial of Albert Maltz, ‘…I claim and I insist upon my right to think freely and to speak freely…’(Maltz). Maltz clearly states that it is within his basic right as an American to be in whatever political party that he wants, however, because he would not answer any questions and give any names up he was blacklisted in Hollywood and went from an award-winning writer to not being able to sell his work for 25 years.

Another major key factor was the lack of evidence. When Abigail goes to accuse Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch John exclaims, ‘On what proof, what proof?’. John knows that everything the girls are saying is false and he wants to be told what proof Abigail has to accuse Elizabeth of being a witch. There was only the use of spectral evidence which would be between the suspected witch and her victim, the girls easily used this to condemn people to their death. McCarthy also does the same thing, he claims to have the names of 200 known communists, ‘He skipped several numbers, and for some cases repeated the same flimsy information.’ (McCarthyism). This can be used to prove that Mccarthy’s main goal was a political gain/power rather than trying to help Americans. Surely enough his evidence wasn’t enough to legally prove those people were communists.

People who questioned McCarthy’s trials and accusations were automatically labeled as communists. When Albert Maltz was questioned, he refused to answer the questions because it was his basic right as an American to believe in whatever political party he wanted, at the very end of his testimony the chairman says, ‘…Typical communist line.’(Maltz). Showing that just because he didn’t answer their questions or accuse others of being communists he was immediately labeled. One of the first accused to be a witch and deny it was Bridget Bishop, in her trial she stated, ‘I am as innocent as the child unborn’(Blumberg, Jess). This was deemed as her saying she was not a witch and because she wouldn’t admit to it and name other witches she was condemned to death. People who questioned the absolute justice of the trials were thought to be witches, and anyone who questioned the legitimacy of the communist trials was accused of being communist. ‘Despite a lack of any proof of subversion, more than 2,000 government employees lost their jobs as a result of McCarthy’s investigations. This one statement shows the impact McCarthy had on innocent people, on 2,000 people’s lives he ruined just to have a political gain.

In conclusion. After both witch hunts concluded Abigail Williams and Joseph McCarthy as in the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism-saw their downfall. Abigail Williams ran from Salem after John Proctor, the man she had an affair with, was condemned to hang. Joseph McCarthy ended up drinking himself to death.  

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