Salem vs McCarthyism

analytical Essay
1651 words
1651 words

Imagine you are called in by an official of your government. He sits you down in a chair and informs you that you have been accused of something terrible, something that everyone in your city fears. You defend yourself and tell him that you had nothing to do with this crime. The official says he believes you, but in order to let you leave, you have to give him the name of someone you know who has committed this crime. You know of no one who would commit such a heinous crime, but the official refuses to let you go until you give him a name. One name. Any name. This situation sounds a little extreme, and even a bit barbaric. One would think that it would have happened a long time ago, before men were civilized and refined. They are right. This situation perfectly describes what happened with the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. One might also say that this could never happen in modern times. That is where they would be wrong. This scenario just presented not only perfectly describes the Salem Witch Trials, but it also perfectly describes the Red Scare of the 1950s and the practice of McCarthyism that went on during it. I’d like to take a look at the parallels between the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism of the 1950s. Let’s begin with the famous Salem Witch trials of 1692. It all started in the Puritan communities around the area of Salem Massachusetts. The Puritans were a very upstanding, strict, religious, and superstitious people. Everything in their lives was centered around their faith. Church and state were most definitely not separate. Almost all of the laws in New England Puritan villages were taken directly from scriptural teachings. They were a God-fearing people, who believed that anything bad that happened to them was a ... ... middle of paper ... ...

In this essay, the author

  • Narrates how they defend themselves and tell the official that they had nothing to do with the crime. the official refuses to let them go until they give him a name.
  • Analyzes how the salem witch trials in 1692 and mccarthyism of the 1950s were perfectly described.
  • Explains that the salem witch trials of 1692 started in the puritan communities around the area. they were upstanding, strict, religious, and superstitious people who believed that anything bad happened to them was a form of punishment.
  • Describes how reverend samuel parris of salem was shocked to discover his nine-year-old daughter elizabeth (known as "betty") and his eleven- year- old niece abigail williams acting extremely strangely. an unknown doctor examined the girls and could not find anything physically wrong with them.
  • Narrates how betty, abigail and two other "afflicted" girls named tituba, reverend parris' slave, sarah osborne, and sarah good, a town beggar, bewitched them and caused their strange sickness.
  • Describes the vicious cycle of people being accused of witchcraft and thrown in jail. those who denied being witches were supposed to name another in the community who was a witch.
  • Compares the salem witch trials and the red scare of the 1950s.
  • Explains that the house un-american activities committee was formed in 1938 to investigate the activities of the klu klux klan, but became a committee to expose communists in the united states.
  • Describes how the huac called a group of hollywood producers, writers, directors, and actors in for questioning. they refused to answer, stating that they were using their first amendment rights of freedom of speech.
  • Narrates how the nation went crazy when senator joseph mccarthy made a list of 205 communist party members in wheeling, west virginia. communists were the ultimate enemy in the american people.
  • Describes how mccarthy led investigations to find supposed communists in our nation. hundreds of people were thrown in prison, and thousands lost their jobs.
  • Opines that people were pressured and harassed to confess or name someone involved with communism. they would shift the blame to someone else due to the intensity of the atmosphere.
  • Explains how mccarthy's rise to "mccarthyism" ended around october of 1953, when he began accusing people in the military and tried to expose robert stevens.
  • Analyzes how journalists started printing critical and embarrassing things about mccarthy in newspapers across the country. president eisenhower even told his vice president, richard nixon, to make a formal speech scathing mccarthy.
  • Compares the witch trials of 1692 and the communist hunt of the 1950s. people were accused of horrible activities on less than credible grounds and with shaky evidence.
  • Analyzes how people let fear get the best of them and rationalized behavior that would not have been condoned otherwise. the people of salem were afraid of witches corrupting their children and infiltrating their villages.
  • Explains that in both of the instances mentioned, even though they were centuries apart, the people allowed fear to take control and made illogical choices that had life-changing consequences.
  • Cites and mccarthyism#origins.
  • Explains the timeline of the salem witch trials, the house un-american activities committee, and the hollywood blacklist.
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