Comparing the the Red Scare and Salem Witch Trials in The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Comparing the the Red Scare and Salem Witch Trials in The Crucible by Arthur Miller

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Arthur Miller’s The Crucible utilizes a fictional account of the Salem Witch Trials to expose the mob mentality associated with the Red Scare of the 1950’s and the sometimes overzealous fight against communism in America. By references to the events that took place in the Witch Trials, the playwright successfully portrays society’s behavior at its tyrannical worst, exposing fraud, faulty logic, vindictiveness, zealotry, and evil (Brater). Arthur Miller creates a parallel between the societal events of mass in the 1600’s and those in the 1950’s. In both instances, leaders use the fear of the masses for their personal gain. Abigail, the lead character in the play, and Senator Joseph McCarthy are both able to generate a groundswell that takes on a life of its own and ruins the lives of others. Arthur Miller created this analogy in order to expose Senator McCarthy and his anti-Communist propaganda by creating an analogy to the ferocity of the Salem Witch Trials. The Salem Witch Trials and the Red Scare fed on the anxiety of the general public. The Salem Witch Trials magnified society’s ability to influence the judicial system. As the hysteria regarding the existence of witches swelled, innocent individuals were executed. McCarthyism also demonstrated society’s ability to influence the judicial system. As the hysteria regarding the threat of communism in America swelled, innocent individuals were jailed, blacklisted, deported, and fired from their jobs. The Crucible first staged in 1953, was meant to raise awareness of the effect that fear can have on human behavior and judgment. The play illustrates how Abigail’s intent to avoid punishment by accusing others of culturally deviant activity led to mass hysteria. Senator McCar...


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... The Crucible. New York, NY: Penguin, 1996. Print.
[p. 34, 74, 122]
Schrecker, Ellen. "The Growth of the Anti-Communist Network." CPCW: The Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing. Boston: St. Martin's Press 1994, 31 May 2007. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. .
Schrecker, Ellen. ""The State Steps In: Setting the Anti-Communist Agenda"" CPCW: The Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing. Boston: St. Martin's Press 1994, 31 May 2007. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. .
Schuetze-Coburn, Marje. "Bertolt Brecht's Appearance Before the HUAC." Brecht's Appearance Before the HUAC. Feuchtwanger Librarian, at the University of Southern California, Feb. 1998. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. .

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