Mccarthyism and the Salem Witch Trails

901 Words4 Pages
We live in a world where you are judged for being different or standing out. In 1952, many people were fired from their jobs and some were even sentenced to jail time just for being accused of being Communist. Imagine living in that world. Imagine being arrested for what you believe or how you view things. Terrible, right? Joseph McCarthy, a U.S. Senator, caused hysteria in society by accusing thousands of people of having connections with the Communist Party. Although, in most cases there wasn't even any evidence to prove it many were fired from high paying jobs with their reputations being ruined. In the play "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller (an accused Communist himself), Miller used the Salem witch trails as a metaphor for McCarthyism, saying that "McCarthyism-style persecution" can happen at any time or place. Miller focused on the fact that once an individual was accused they had little chance of clearing their name because of the irrational and circular nature of the courts. In the play, Miller used the ideas of reputation, hysteria and intolerance to show how it works; a circle that makes sense with total clarity. The actual definition of McCarthyism is "the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence." Miller saw this as being intolerant of differences in society and being questioned. In the play Danforth illustrates the main role of intolerance. He, being so high in the church/court, refuses to let his authority be questioned, causing many innocent lives to be taken even after he realizes that he has been wrong the entire time. Millers connection with intolerance in McCarthyism and the witch trails is incredibly clear and well focused. Danforth is intolerant of his authority being questioned, therefor he refuses to listen or reason when Proctor, Parris and Hale try to explain what Abigail has done.
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