Connecting Mc Carthyism And The Crucible Essay

1361 words - 5 pages

The horrors of history are passed on from generation to generation in hopes that they will never occur again. People look back on these times and are appalled at how horrendous the times were; yet, in the 1950s, history repeated itself. During this time, Joseph McCarthy, a United States senator from Wisconsin, began accusing people of being communists or communist sympathizers, which is parallel to the Salem witch trials in the late 1690s when innocent people were accused of practicing witchcraft. One of the people McCarthy accused was author and playwright Arthur Miller. To express his outrage at McCarthy’s actions, miller wrote The Crucible, intentionally drawing similarities between the McCarthy hearings and the Salem witch trials.
Miller directly targets McCarthy through the character Abigail Williams in The Crucible. Abigail is portrayed as a sneaky, manipulative girl, not unlike McCarthy. Abigail desperately yearned for John Proctor, begging him to “give [her] a word…a soft word,” but when John pushed her away and told her “that’s done with,” Abigail felt that the only way she could have John to herself was to accuse his wife, Elizabeth Proctor, of practicing witchcraft (Miller 1246). Although Abigail had no evidence that the people she accused were practicing witchcraft, the court took her accusations seriously because Abigail had credibility. Abigail accused Tituba of witchery, and when Tituba confessed that she had, in fact, conversed with the devil, it proved to the townspeople that Abigail had told the truth (1262). Similarly, McCarthy accused innocent people of being communists in order to get what he wanted: popularity in the political race for reelection for senator of Wisconsin (“Persecution” 1). McCarthy gained his credibility through Whittaker Chambers’ admittance of being a communist and Chambers’ revelation of other communists (“Whittaker Chambers” 1). Like Abigail, McCarthy had no evidence against the people he blamed of being communists. His list contained 205 names of communists and “[was] mainly based on a vague report” (1). Although there was not evidence against the accused communists, the American people were ready to believe that communists had infiltrated their country because the communist Soviet Union had already taken over other countries, including China, Korea, and North Vietnam (“Domino Theory” 1). Like the American people, the town folk of Salem were willing to believe that there were witches in their town since witchcraft had just been discovered in nearby Andover, where forty people were accused of witchcraft ("Andover, Massachusetts” 1). Both McCarthy and Abigail were able to take advantage of the atmosphere of hysteria during their time period to get what they so desperately wanted. Yet their reigns of power did not last long. When Abigail accused highly respected people such as John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse, the townspeople were not so willing to accept that the people they respected were practicing...

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