Mccarthyism in the crucible essay

Mccarthyism in the crucible essay

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The Crucible And Mccarthyism Essay Research Paper

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Many times it has been said that if people learn form their mistakes they are doomed to repeat them. Such is the case throughout history. There are many different examples of this, but one example is the blatant similarities between the witch hunts in Salem Massachusetts and the era of McCarthyism. When looking at either one of theses events separately it is hard to believe that they could have actually happened, not only once but, twice. If one takes the time to look at both events simultaneously they are able to make many comparisons and enable numerous similarities be seen. In The Crucible Miller creates an analogy of the witch hunts in Salem to the investigation of communists by Joseph McCarthy.

One of the many resemblance’s that can be clearly seen is the way in which each of event, McCarthyism and the Salem witch hunts, had the ability to ruin a persons life through a simple accusation. An example of this is very evident in The Crucible. The character of John Proctor is accused of partaking in the crime of witchcraft. When it comes time to confess, he knows that confessing will save his physical life, but at the same time it will ruin his reputation. He said “Why must it be written? Why must I say it?” (Miller 138, 140). Proctor knows that his confession will be posted onto the church wall for all to see. This is why he ends up tearing the confessions. If it were seen by anyone in the community John Proctor’s reputation would be tarnished to the point where he could no longer show his face in Salem. He therefore chooses death over humiliation. A parallelism of this can be seen in the era of McCarthyism. If one was accused by Senator Joseph McCarthy of being a communist their lives were ruined. This process became known as blacklisting. President Truman once said “Character assassination is their stock in trade.” (Lately 229). This shows how those accused of communism had their lives taken away from them. Whether it be an accusation of witchcraft or communism, both have led to the ruining of innocent peoples lives.

One of the many other resemblance’s that can be seen between McCarthyism and The Crucible is the questions that were asked of those that were accused, and what they were required to do in order to save their reputation. In The Crucible those that were accused of witchcraft were often asked to recite the ten commandments. When John Proctor was being accused he was asked to recite the ten commandment by Reverend Hale, “Let you repeat them, if you will. [Proctor:] The commandment?” (Miller 66). Another occurrence of this also appears in The Crucible when Sarah Good was standing trial. She was asked by judge Hathorne to “Recite for us your commandments.” (Miller 58). Suspects of witchcraft were asked to recite their commandments in order to show the courts that their souls were still with God rather than sleeping with the Devil. A reflection of this can be seen when looking at the people that fell victim to the accusations of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Those that had been accused of being part of, or loyal to, the communist party were often required to recite a pledge that would state their loyalty to their own country. “Many employees, to keep their jobs, were required to take an oath of loyalty to the government” (World Book). To prove your innocence after an accusation of either witchcraft of communism you were often times required to recite some sort of pledge. This pledge usually showed others that you were loyal to God and Country.

Another comparison between the witch hunts in Salem and McCarthy’s hunt for communist can also be constructed. During each of the events it is clearly seen that people came to the realization that all the hysteria came at a great cost; a cost that need not be paid. In The Crucible the person that first comes to this realization id Reverend Hale. “Why it is simple. I come to do the Devil’s work. I come to counsel Christians they should belie themselves” (Miller 131). This displays the remorse and sympathy that Hale began to feel for the innocent people that had been imprisoned due to the false accusations that were made by the young girls. Throughout McCarthyism many people felt this remorse and sympathy for those that were falsely accused, but many people were to afraid to voice their opinions and express the remorse that they felt. One of the few people that said what they felt about McCarthy and McCarthyism was President Truman. He was quoted as saying ” Rise up and put a stop to this terrible business Take the lead against the hysteria that threatens the government from within.” (Lately 228). This displays Truman’s call for help in disabling the anti-Communist Joseph McCarthy. Within both the Salem witch hunts and the anti-Communist movement there is a visual sign of sympathy that eventually led to the end of each respective event.

While looking throughout history it is possible to retrace events and see where society has repeated their mistakes. Two of these events that are different in some ways, but similar in more, are the witch hunts that took place in Salem during 1692 and the era of McCarthyism brought on by an anti-Communist movement led by Senator Joseph McCarthy. Among the many similarities between the two events are the way in which it effected the lives of those who participated, the questioning that was brought upon the people that were accused, and the manner in which each event came to an end through the realization of how unnecessary it really was. The Crucible by Arthur Miller does an excellent job of creating the analogy between the two, very separate, events.

McCarthyism and the Crucible Essay

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Throughout history there have been many events that are direct parallels of each other. These parallels are evident in Joseph McCarthy’s, McCarthyism and in Arthur Miller’s, the Crucible. McCarthyism was the fear of communism that was created by the Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. This was a time of fear after the Second World War in the years 1950 through 1954. McCarthy had conducted hearings accusing people who were suspected of being related to communism. During these hearings, he forced people to give up names of other “followers” and if they refused to give names of others, they were imprisoned. In Arthur Miller’s, the Crucible it was a based off the Salem Witch Trials. This era had the same tactics of dealing with the supposed followers as McCarthyism, but in this case it was for witchcraft. Many people were accused of witchcraft and put to death for being related to the accusations. The Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism were both examples of false accusations and public hysteria.

The Crucible and McCarthyism were both fueled by fear. In the onset of the Crucible, Abigail, a woman who was in love with John Proctor, began blaming people of being affiliated with witchcraft and communicating with the devil. She said, “She made me do it! She made Betty do it.. She makes me drink blood!” (Miller I.43). Abby had blamed Tituba about being a part of witchcraft and it soon lead to her death because she couldn’t plead innocent. During this time the courts would just blame you for being a part of witchcraft and it was almost impossible to prove your innocence. Abigail kept blaming people and soon created the fear in the town because they believe she would blame them next. Many people became very cautious of their actions in the town because they were afraid of being accused. McCarthyism was fueled by the fear of the communists taking over and a potential nuclear war.

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Joseph McCarthy installed this fear into everyone because neither he nor the United States knew who was a communist or not. There had been spies that snuck into the states. The trust of people was lost and everyone was afraid of being accused themselves. In William Pfaffs, Revisionist View of McCarthyism Misses the Mark, he states, “McCarthyism was not about spies, it was about people who had been communist party members, or who had expresses pro-Communist or fellow traveling sympathies.” McCarthy had been cautious of the potential threats but he took it to far. It was almost impossible to prove your innocence. He made it so hard that to prove your innocence you had to tell the government about someone else who had affiliation with the communist life style.

McCarthyism and the Witch Trials had different ways of following through with their prosecutions. During the Salem Witch Trials, the people who were accused of witchcraft and denied their affiliation with the devil were hanged. There was no sympathy to the false accusitions they made. When John Proctor takes the blame for his own wife, to avoid her death he accepts the punishment but will not sign that he is affiliated, Hale says “Excellent is it enough he confess himself. Let him sign it, let him sign it.” (Miller IV.141) John Proctor believes that his word is worth the amount of his signature because if he were to sign he would be signing his life way. He would lose his dignity and eventually he lost his life. During McCarthyism nobody was killed for being accused. Most people were imprisoned and came out of prison with a bad reputation.

A major example of this was the Hollywood Ten. These were people in the filmmaking industry who were accused of communism. McCarthy assumed that they were affiliated because of their movies, or shows had hidden messages telling people to follow communism. After many court hearings these celebrities were convicted. In HCUA and The Hollywood Ten, “during and after the trials The Hollywood Ten were blacklisted. This meant that no one in the business would work with them for fear that they would be labeled a communist.” The Hollywood Ten lost their income because they had a lack of work and many of them received no further entry back into the film industry and also a bad reputation. Both of these historical events caused for public humiliation and fear.

McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Trials were very complex events in history. From false accusations, fear, public humiliation and also public hysteria, these two events played a big role in the history of the United States. McCarthyism was the fear of communism and in the Crucible it was the fear of witchcraft. The United States has faced many potential problems with fear and these two problems being an example of this concept. Both McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Trials were different events but show many correlations between each other.