|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||American history American literature The Crucible Salem witch trials|
The book Crucible is an allegory. An allegory refers to the story that possesses an obvious meaning but with other hidden connotations. In the book, Arthur Miller succeeds in portraying the Salem witch-hunt as the apparent meaning, while McCarthyism as the hidden meaning. The story is based on the fear, hysteria, paranoia as well as the suspicion which the people of Salem underwent during the witch-hunt. Undeniably, the events here are mostly identical to the happening within the United States during the 1950s. During this time, Communism was rapidly spreading across the world, and the Americans were afraid of this ideology taking over their nation, based on the fact that had taken over and dominated the major parts of Russia. Nearly everyone accused of being a communist as subjected to a capital sentence with heavy punishment, usually a life sentence (Hamilton 27). The situation in the United States is represented as the significant allegory in the book and a very effective one. Citizens were subjected to trials all the time in America, just like in the Salem witch hunts. In fact, everyone felt unsafe as people were unreasonably accused. The outbreak of the fear and paranoia dramatically resembles the McCarthyism. Due to the dangers of challenging McCarthyism, Arthur Miller indirectly criticizes it through his play "The Crucible"; a historical fiction about The Salem Witch Trials to highlight the similarities between the two. This essay will, therefore, illustrate how Crucible is an Allegory of McCarthyism.
In the play, Miller provides the insights of the conditions through which Abigail and several other young women accuse the innocent women of Salem for the actions of witchcraft. During the trials, many people were subjected to persecution, for example, John Proctor. Undeniably, this event in history can be linked with the Red Scare in the United States where citizens were being tried for their questionable influences of the communism. Miller attempts to make a comparison between John Proctor and himself. At this point, readers can figure out similar experiences faced by both men. In fact, Crucible substantially provides a demonstration of the kind of struggle against corruption involving the legal institutions, which eventually led to the death of many people in Salem. Just like in the book, McCarthyism was also dominated by several incidents of accusations and false allegations. McCarthy himself had numerous predicaments that he had masked to hide from the public. He married to inform the society that he was not homosexual and alcoholic (Hamilton 38). Just like Abigail Williams in the Crucible who accused other people of being witches to have her evade the consequences of the illegal activities in Salem, McCarthy would also accuse his fellow bureaucrats because of his social power. His actions draw another similar line to The Crucible that when Mary Warren accuses Abigail of fraud, she finds herself of being a witch. Undeniably, the Crucible is portrayed as an allegory of McCarthyism therefore.
The book produces an allegory for the author's struggle with McCarthyism based on the fact that the similar experiences he underwent relate to Proctor's battle against Witch Trials in Salem. The relations between the court actions in both situation the play and the McCarthyism period refers tremendously. In the novel, he asserts that "Should the accused confess, his honesty could only be proved by naming former confederates." In this statement, he explains the manner in criminal justice systems operated regarding coming to their ruling conclusions. This narrative illustrates the experience with the trials that involve the Red Scare and those that happened in Salem. In fact, the Witchcrafts Trials in Salem were much alike with the communism suspicions in America, where citizens were unreasonably accused of that they were not involved (Hamilton 25). The responsibilities of the courts in both the situations involved drawing the names of other participants known as the 'crimes.' Substantial similarity between Judge Danforth's sentiments to McCarthyism further depicted in the statement, "Mr. Proctor. When the devil came to you did you see Rebecca Nurse in his company?" (Crucible 129). It shows the manner in which such institutions believed in the testimony of individuals especially on the mention of other people.
The manner in which Joseph McCarthy made false communist allegations that ruined lives and increased the hostility highly resembles the way the girls in Crucible attempted to escape the consequences of their actions to accuse other people. McCarthy propagated false accusation on specific individuals to further his political career. In the case of Crucible, not even a single person wanted to stand against this due to the fear of being accused by themselves. Abigail and other young women pursued accusations to avoid being hung and opted to continue this after they had accomplished what they wanted after self-serving reasons. At the end of act 3, Miller portrays the court where it questions Mary Warren, thereby creating a conflict as an example of truth and untruth. In a broader note, Warren is trying to say that she and other girls were pretending. However, other girls knew that they would be subjected to severe trouble and decided to turn against Mary and acted even more that she was working for the devil and against them too (Hutchins-Viroux 144).
Crucible occurs in a place known as Salem, Massachusetts in the spring of 1692. One year before this event, an execution of a witch in the nearby town of Beverly was carried out leading to the spread of the same type of battles to the village of Salem. Being drawn to each other, many rumors spread, with the inhabitants of the town left unaware of the people to blame-the slaves, the girls and the wicked works of the devil (Hutchins-Viroux 143). The fear that spread around the city compelled people to isolate themselves from people and individuals they previously related as their friends. Courts as the element of the existing legal systems, churches, and unity within the community wholly reduced as both the community structure and fear facilitated such executions. As Miller illustrates, the religion considerably played an integral role in the lives of the Salem people, and this meant that any individual who was unable to stand with the church was not even allowed in the community. This implied that once they were spotted and believed to be witches, they were subjected to a massive punishment usually through execution. At the end of act 4 of the play, Proctor, and Rebecca the Nurse are hanged. During this time, Proctor confessed that he had been working with the devil and dismissed that anyone else was also in the same operation. The use of this technique by Miller creates tension as the ending is hurried and little information is provided. The audience is further unaware of the young girls were found out as well as how long the trials for the Salem undertook. In this way, turning back to God by repenting and revealing the names of other witches in the community was the sole way through which the people of Salem could survive.
As history repeats itself, the same scenarios happened themselves during McCarthyism where on February 9, 1950, more than two hundred people were charged in the U.S State Department of being affiliated to the communist's ideological operations and influence in the United States (Hutchins-Viroux 141). In fact, the only way that people could survive whenever accused of being communist or supporting it as an ideological spirit that was rapidly spreading across the United States was through naming other people they thought were communist. Senator Joseph McCarthy received his reinforcement from the FBI as well as his friend Edgar Hoover. Both of them struggled the entertainment industry with a lot of vigor to subject the accused on trials. Mr. Proctor was one of the few people charged with the anti-American ideology in the United States. Proctor admitted that indeed he had been attending the small number of the informal meetings organized by the communist party but refused to mention anybody who also participated.
In conclusion, it becomes evident that Due to the dangers of challenging McCarthyism, Arthur Miller indirectly criticizes it through his play "The Crucible"; a historical fiction about The Salem Witch Trials to highlight the similarities between the two. This essay has tremendously illustrated the manner in which The Crucible is an allegory of McCarthyism. Firstly, the events and the characters in both the play and the McCarthyism resemble each other regarding their actions as well as the actions that led to those events. Abigail William resembles Joseph McCarthy both pursued allegations and accusations of different groups of people to avoid being punished and opted to continue this after they had accomplished what they wanted after self-serving reasons. Just the same way McCarthy would accuse his fellow bureaucrats of guilty of different charges is the same way Abigail accuses Mary Warren of being a witch when Abigail made fraud allegations towards her. In another instance, Miller portrays Abigail and several other young women accusing the innocent women of Salem for the actions of witchcraft. Majority of the accused were subjected to heavy punishment usually a life sentence. Miller vividly compares this event this in history with the Red Scare in the United States where citizens were being tried for their questionable influences of the communism. Finally, the criminal justice systems ion both the play and McCarthyism resemble each other. The same way the accused were subjected to trials and later capital punishment in Crucible mirrors the manner in which innocent citizens were tried and killed during McCarthyism. In fact, Sen. McCarthy accused, charged and killed more than two hundred people in the U.S State Department for being affiliated to the communist's ideological operations in America. They were required to name their confederates to survive. In The Crucible, the victims of accusations were also needed to name the people they thought were witches to survive. All these illustrations make The Crucible an allegory of McCarthyism.
Hamilton, Craig. "Allegory, blending, and censorship in modern literature." Journal of Literary Semantics 40.1 (2011): 23-42
Hutchins-Viroux, Rachel. "Witch-hunts, Theocracies and Hypocrisy: McCarthyism in Arthur Miller/Robert Ward's opera The Crucible and Carlisle Floyd's Susannah." Revue LISA/LISA e-journal. Litteratures, Histoire des Idees, Images, Societes du Monde Anglophone-Literature, History of Ideas, Images and Societies of the English-speaking World 6.2 (2008): 140-148.
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