At the time of The Crucible ‘s first performance, 1953, many observed it as a direct attack on McCarthyism, the policy of sniffing out Communists similar to the way the “witches” of 1692 were discovered. The favorite targets on McCarthy’s radar were writers and entertainers. Through highly controversial, evidence-lacking investigations, intended to root out Communist sympathizers in the United States, suspected parties were told that if they wanted to escape punishment, they would have to confess and identify other Communist sympathizers. This structure lead to an overflow of accusations, heightening the hysteria, and the black listing of three hundred and twenty promising careers . There are many sit...
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...n tell, no actual witches or devil-worshipers in Salem, and there were definitely some Communist spies, including the Julius Rosenberg, and Alger Hiss. These lionized victims of McCarthyism at the time proved to be less innocent than those of the Salem Witch Trials, like Rebecca Nurse or John Proctor.
Miller was not interested in the assent of one man and his calculated and dramatic attacks on an idea, but rather the American people themselves. They began to revel in the fear, which was being used to rule their minds, making them abandon the virtues of loyalty and honesty. This key theme does not only apply to the narrow scope of McCarthyism, and is what makes The Crucible a prime example of well-written American drama.
1. Bowers, Kristen. The Crucible by Arthur Miller: Literature Guide. San Dimas, CA: Secondary Solutions, 2006. Print.
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