The following essay is from my Junior year of high school that I wrote in American Literature/English class in 2002. I found it today while packing more stuff.
In history there have been many major events that have shaped the times we live in. Two of the major events of our time are the "witchunts" of the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism. In these two events there are many similarities like the anger and fear that went on, but however, there is a lot of contrast between the two, such as the consequences. Because of these rich and controversial topics, Arthur Miller wrote his play, The Crucible, which demonstrates all of these issues. He wrote it also so that we would learn and grow from the past, instead of ignoringly repeating it.
The first way both of these events have similarities is by anger. There was a lot of anger among the people of this time. During the Salem Witch Trials, Abby hates Elizabeth Proctor and the wife of the man that she loves, which then results in Abby accusing Elizabeth of practicing witchcraft and communicating with the devil. In McCarthyism, anger is shown when Joseph McCarthy accuses people of being communists. Anyone who expressed their freedom of speech was labeled a communist just because people accused them of being one. There was so much anger in this time that people let it consume them and take over.
The second way the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism are similar is that they both were fueled by fear. The Salem Witch Trials were fueled by fear because no one wanted to be punished or killed. When Abby started accusing people of being witches or communicating with the devil, everyone started getting scared that she would accuse them. A lot of people were afraid to do activities and things that they might normally do all the time because they were afraid of being accused. McCarthyism was fueled by the fear of nuclear war. Communists snuck into America from the Soviet Union to spy on the U.S. america and the Soviet Union were on the verge of a nuclear war, so McCarthy instilled fear in everyone because no one had any idea who was a communist. He made everyone afraid to trust people, and they were afraid that they would be accused themselves.
There is one major difference between the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism. During the Salem Witch Trials, the people that were accused and denied that they had anything to do with evil, were hanged. However, in McCarthyism, no one was killed for being accused of being a communist. Most of them came out with a bad reputation whether or not they denied it. Another difference is that the Salem Witch Trials occured in the 1600's. People first accused "outsiders" of being witches and practicing evil because they were different. Some people were not used to some of the things different people did so they automatically figured they were associated with the devil. In McCarthyism, people first accused "insiders", people that were in the entertainment business that had connections and that knew a lot of people. So those people were named communists because they were part of a really huge and international industry. Another difference is that McCarthyism happened in the 1950's. A whole different time from when the Salem Witch Trials occured.
The Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism were very complex events in our time. The fear, anger and differences were very important in both events. Arthur Miller wrote the play, The Crucible, so that people could learn from them. As a result of these events, Arthur Miller's, The Crucible, became a very important play on the American stage.
* I was 16 when I wrote this. That was almost 10 years ago.*
Essay about The Crucible by Arthur Miller
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The Crucible was based in 1692 in and around the town of Salem,
Massachusetts, USA. The Salem witch-hunt was view as one of the strangest and most horrendous chapters in the human history. People that were prosecuted were all innocent and their deaths were all due to false accusation of people’s ridiculous belief in superstition and their paranoia. The Puritans in those times were very strict in personal habits and morality; swearing, drunkenness and gambling would be punished. The people of Salem believed in the devil and thought that witchcraft should be hunted out. The play can be seen as a general statement on the effects that fear and fanaticism can have on human beings and how one person can cause such catastrophe.
It…show more content…
Looking at the two historical events, we can see that hysteria was ever-present at the times in which they occurred. It is evident that this hysteria ruined the lives of many people, due to the constant accusations of witches and communists. The events that led up to the Salem witch trails and McCarthyism was also similar. Both events were irrational fears that witchcraft and communism were going to change the face of society if drastic measures were not taken.
People were involved in persecution in both time framed. In Salem, it was the witches who were hunted. With McCarthyism, it was the communists that were hunted. As in America in the 1950s (their assumption being that communists were out there), in The Crucible the villagers of Salem believed that the devil was out there. The people really believed that Lucifer was roaming the streets of Salem seeking to destroy the town and seeking to destroy the institution of the church. In many ways the assumption of devil activity seemed to be a way of finding a scapegoat for the personal problems of the community.
So 'The Crucible' is a subtle way to show what was happening in
America at the time without actually relating to that time. In Salem the accused are the communists and the accusers are McCarthyists. So
John Proctor the hero of Arthur Millers story is the equivalent of a suspected communist in the USA at the time of the cold war.