Essay Comparing the Salem Witch Trials and the Red Scare

Essay Comparing the Salem Witch Trials and the Red Scare

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Inspired by the Red Scare, which was fuled by use of the either-or ( black and white) fallacy of thinking, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible depicts the village of Salem undergoing its own period of black and white thinking along with the suspicion and hysteria which followed. Miller exploits the literary element of setting to support the portrayal of the effects of black and white thinking in Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
The beginning of something new establishes a setting of opportunities, creating optimism and purpose for an uncertain future. The establishment of colonies in the New World presented a delectable scenario for curious opportunists and religious refugees. For reasons of economic gain, escape from religious repression, and a multitude of other reasons, colonists from England decided to take a risk and pursue a possibility of freedom. They perceived this New World as an unknown, a place where its native inhabitants were “blind” and desperately needed the revelation of god. Because the colonists wanted to help the natives obtain salvation, they branded this motive in the first seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony: “Come over and help us,” (The First Seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.) Their seal reflected the commercial and missionary intentions of the first colonists. The colonists viewed themselves as the flaming touch about to set light upon the shadows existing in the New World. “They believed, in short, that they held in their steady hands the candle that would light the world. […] It helped them with the discipline it gave them.” (The Crucible, 5) They were the people to work hard and show success. They were the people to maintain strict orthodox. They were the people to succeed where oth...


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...ion in the village, hysteria settled in and people turned against one another.

In a setting of purity and orthodox, the usage of black and white thinking in the village of Salem had devastating effects. After the creation a brand new society, optimism for a bright future was high. Because of this optimism, the usage of black and white thinking made any anomalies critical in the colonists’ society. The townspeople enacted blind accusations and incriminating false charges based on suspicion which arose from the usage of black and white thinking. From the colony’s staunchly religious setting, black and white thinking became a major cause of the turmoil, suspicion and hysteria that rapidly spread throughout the town. This type of either-or fallacy, like those from the McCarthy Era, turned average citizens into fearful and suspicious vigilantes against unorthodox.

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