Published: 2020-06-17 01:01:06
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Category: General Studies

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The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, the madness of the Salem witch trials isexplored in great detail. There is more to the play than the witch trials,though. The Crucible was composed during a time when a similar hysteria wassweeping through America. A virtually unkown senator by the name of JosephMcCarthy was propelled into infamy when while at a speaking engagement at theeRepublican Women’s Club of Wheeling, West Virginia he charged 205 persons inthe U.S. State Department of being members of the Communist Party (Martine 8).
Fear caused the American people to succumb to the preposterous charges broughtforth by McCarthy displaying resemblance’s to that of the Salem community in1692 (Carey 51). In Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, there is evidence ofparallels between the Salem of 1692 and America of the 1950’s, the AmericanGovernment of the 1950’s and its misuse of power, and the high court depicted inthe play, using its power to impose a misguided ju! stice. The Crucible takesplace in Salem, Massachusetts in the spring of 1692 in a village shrouded withchaos. The people of Salem were in uncertain times. Just a year earlier a witchin the nearby town of Beverly was executed and now the witch hysteria had spreadto their village. Confused, the people didn’t know who to blame whether it bethe girls, the negro slave, or even the Devil himself. The insanity that cameabout was an indication of the fear of individual freedom” (Miller6). In The Crucible, hysteria and hidden agendas break down the social structureand then everyone must protect themselves from the people that they thought weretheir friends. The church, the legal system, and the togetherness of thecommunity died so that the girls and their families social status might beprotected. The fact that Salem was a Puritan community did not help matterseither. Puritans were a strict religous group that tolerated no deviousbehavior. Being isolated from any other group of people with different beliefscreated a church led Puritan society that was not able to accept a lot ofchange. Anyone who was not in good standing with the church was not even allowedin the community (Carey 42). They believed God elected those who were to go toHeaven by the same token though they believed the Devil could choose hisdisciples also (Carey 43). Puritans deemed anything pleasurable was motivated byand came directly from the Devil. When The Crucible was written, the Americansociety was threatened by communism much like Salem was threatened by witchcraft(Bly 32). On September 23, 1949, President Truman reported that the Soviet Unionhad developed an atomic bomb striking fear into the American nation (Martine 8).

Miller even acknowledged this fear when he said, ” America had justfinished fighting World War II with the help of the Soviet Union against theGermans and now they felt threatened by them, knowing not wether they were stillallies or if another war was inevitable. The war made people wary of communism.

What Hitler had done was ugly. Americans feared this ugliness. Thou shaltnot suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18). The puritans of Salemdefinitely believed in witches and gaurded against them just as the Bible toldthem so, executing them. Once a person was accused as a witch the only way tolive was to turn back to God by repenting and revealing names of other witchesso that they might repent or be vanquished (Bly 88). Judge Danforth was devotedto the prosecution of witches. When he arrives in the town of Salem, Danforthsets in motion acts that bring about an evil destructive state ofchaos” (Carey 15). He believed he inherited his authority directly fromGod, and therefore carried on the witchhunt mercilessly (Bly 33). He did notgive up easily; once he decided someone was a witch he would not rest until aconfession was made as is evident in the following quote: Will youconfesss yourself befouled with Hell, or do you keep that black allegianceyet?” (Miller 111). Danforth may have had too much power also; being theDeputy Governor of Massachusetts, Danforth had the power to try, convict, andexecute anyone he decide was a witch” (Bly 27). When writting The Crucible,Arthur Miller chose to speak through John Proctor on of the Salem witch trialsvictims. Miller uses Proctor as his character that defies the authority of thejudges and their corrupt power (Carey 14).

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