The Crucible Essay
In Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”, There are several similarities to McCarthyism in the United States. In 1950 United States, Senator Joseph McCarthy accused a large number of people of being communists during the “Red Scare” which was a period of history where Americans feared the potential rise of communism. Arthur Miller was accused of being a communist which led to him writing “The Crucible”, a book about the Salem Witch Trials. In 1693 Massachusetts, more than 200 people were accused of witchcraft. Over 20 people were hung before the colony realized it was a mistake. The Crucible is a parallel of McCarthyism in the United States and The Salem Witch Trials. Miller highlights the similarities and differences of the people who are accused during the events, the people in charge, and the aftermath of both events.
When looking at the people in charge during McCarthyism in the United States and the Salem Witch Trials there are obvious similarities. Deputy Governor Danforth and Joseph McCarthy were both the main accusers in both events. Joseph McCarthy accused the American people of being communists and Danforth accused the people of Salem of being witches. In Act III, When John Procter is questioning the credibility of the girls who are accusing everyone of witchcraft, Danforth says, “I tell you straight, Mister—I have seen marvels in this court. I have seen people choked before my eyes by spirits; I have seen them stuck by pins and slashed by daggers. I have until this moment not the slightest reason to suspect that the children may be deceiving me. Do you understand my meaning?” (132). This shows that when the trials are being questioned, Danforth takes it personally because if the trials were fake than it would be Danforth’s reputation on the line. McCarthy and Danforth are similar because they both have their reputations and credibility on the line and will do anything to protect it like wrongfully accusing innocent people with little to no evidence.
The people affected by McCarthyism and the witch trials experienced similar things. The victims of both situations had everyone pointing fingers at them and were falsely accused. The victims of McCarthyism in Hollywood were accused of being communists, and the victims in Salem were accused of being witches with little to no proof. In Act 3, Danforth explains why people are being accused with no proof by saying ” And I bid you all do likewise. In an ordinary crime, how does one defend the accused? One calls up witnesses to prove his innocence. But witchcraft is ipso facto, on its face and by its nature, an invisible crime, is it not? Therefore, who may possibly be witness to it? The witch and the victim. None other. Now we cannot hope the witch will accuse herself; granted? Therefore, we must rely upon her victims—and they do testify, the children certainly do testify.” He thinks there is no way to prove witchcraft so he assumes everyone who is accused is guilty which is a reflection of how most people felt during the Salem Witch Trials. People in both situations lost their jobs and were imprisoned.
Another similarity in the two events is the aftermath. In Salem, the Witch Trials resulted in 100-200 people imprisoned, 24 accused victims murdered, and 55 falsely admitted to witchcraft. Reverend Hale says “Excellency, I have signed seventy-two death warrants; I am a minister of the Lord, and I dare not take a life without there be a proof so immaculate no slightest qualm of conscience may doubt it.” To show how many people were killed because they were suspected witches. In America the aftermath was hundreds of Americans accused and 10-12 thousand people lost their jobs. In both situations tons of people lost their careers and had damages their reputations.
The Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism were both very complex times in America. Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible to lead people from making those mistakes again. The two events were very similar and the parallels show that the hysteria was because no one knew the true facts of either situation and there was no proof to back any accusations.