A very famous man once said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933). This is certainly true when it comes to Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible. Arthur Miller lived through the Red Scare, also known as McCarthyism. After living through this era and being one of the accused communists Miller wrote the book titled The Crucible in 1952. This book told the story of the Salem witch trials with some modifications to make it more relevant to the current situation. The book ultimately became an allegory devoted solely to McCarthyism. In The Crucible it uses situations such as the actual trials; direct comparisons of the characters in the book to those that participated in the McCarthy trials and, the atmosphere of the two events were almost identical.
One example of The Crucible being an allegory to the McCarthy Era is the similarity in the way people were accused. In both instances “Habeas corpus” and “Innocent until proven guilty” are not present. In The Crucible the accused entered the courtroom with a decided fate. To Judge Danforth they were guilty unless they could prove themselves innocent or confess and give him the names of other witches. Even though this was unfair, people were afraid that if they stood up to it than they too would be accused. In John Proctors case this was true. John Proctor goes to the courthouse to free his wife who has been accused of witchcraft. Slowly, Danforth and Hawthorn turn it against him and accuse him of witchcraft. All hell breaks loose in the courtroom and Proctor has an outburst.
“I say-I say- God is dead! ... A Fire, a fire is burning. I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quail to bring men out of, ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud-God damns our kind especially, and we will burn together!” Danforth replies: “Marshal! Take him and Corey with him to the jail!” (Pg. 119-120). Proctors innocent attempt to free his wife was a failure, and ultimately led to his arrest and death. During the McCarthy Era people were accused based on here-say and often fake or irrelevant documents and facts. For example in one of the first communist trials an Air force pilot was discharged based on a communist relationship. He was given no trial and was discharged based on supposed information in a sealed envelope sent by McCarthy. For all the Air force knew there could be a blank piece of paper in the envelope but a rising fear of communism prevented them from questioning the data given to them in the envelope. Similarly, the characters in the play were accused based on what other people had said or supposed about them not on solid evidence. Most people were accused by other people’s testimony.
In both the McCarthy Era and The Crucible the power of the name is very important. In both instances, the accused were forced to give names of the people who were...