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Free Essays - Fear of the Unknown in The Crucible

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Fear of the Unknown in The Crucible  


Arthur Miller's play The Crucible demonstrates the cruelties people face when society turns their back upon them. Miller wrote The Crucible as a reflection of a similar incident that happened during the 1950's, the McCarthy Trials. Both historical events focused on people's and society's fear of the unknown or different.

However, there was one difference between the two events; one was a witch hunt while the other was a Communist hunt. In both historical events people were accused, tried, and found guilty of being either a witch or a Communist. Miller wrote The Crucible during the McCarthy trial era, as a protest toward society's actions during the shocking "red trials". The Crucible is a revelation of the McCarthy Trials in exposing how truly primitive people are when they are confronted with their deepest fears.

The basis for Miller's play was obviously the Salem Witch Trials. What is so interesting is how people reacted the same way to the McCarthy Trials almost 300 years later. In the case of The Crucible, Miller reveals society's and people's primitive side by exposing them to the unknown, witchcraft. The mere mention of the word witchcraft threw the whole town into a frenzy. The deplorable part of the play is that the accusations were made by girls who were actually trying to practice witchcraft. When the girls were confronted with the accusations of practicing witchcraft, they simply placed the blame on the theory that witchcraft had possessed them. In order for their lives to be saved, they started naming people in the town who they were not fond of as potential witches. Appallingly, when the accused were brought to trial they all were found guilty. This occurred mainly because of the girls testimony and Miller saw the same similarities 300 years later.

The McCarthy Trials started in a similar manner. During the 1950's, Communism was on the rise in Europe and Asia. The United States stated their campaign by participating in the Cold War. The United States launched its campaign against the largest Communist countries, such as the Soviet Union. When Communism started to appear in the United States, people began to become wary of neighbors, friends, and family. This constituted the whole "red scare" epidemic, which led up to the McCarthy Trials. If someone showed the slightest notion of sympathy or support for Communism, they were immediately labeled as a Communist and brought to trial. Senator McCarthy made it his mission to find every last Communist or Communist supporter in the United States and punish them severely. This led to many innocent people being unfairly punished, which is very reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials.

Miller exposed the primitive nature of people when they are faced with the unknown. People looked at witchcraft and Communism as a disease that could spread if the carriers were not destroyed. It became everyone's mission to seek and destroy every witch and Communist which were present. Many innocent people were unjustly punished in both of these cases. Miller was trying to make a point that society had not improved at all in 300 years because people were doing the same thing the Puritans had done prior. By comparing the two historical events to one another, Miller created a forceful message that reached society and its people. People finally saw how they retreated back into their primitive ways when confronted with their deepest fears.



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