Red Scare And The Crucible

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Just like being back in high school… Lordy, I can HEAR the boredom sublimating off this paper. Note at the time that I assumed McCarthy had some basis for fact in his portrayal of the Salem witch trials–the truth is that virtually all the parallels to the Red Scare were manufactured out of whole cloth. So a large part of this essay is dead wrong, as I assumed he took two real events and paralleled them rather than refashioning one as an echo of the other. After World War II drew to a conclusion, the long Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union began. In the 1950s, tensions ran high between America and its one-time ally, and fear of the Communists was widespread. Joseph McCarthy, a little known senator from Wisconsin, exploited the fears of the masses in an attempt to gain a popularity and a good reputation. He declared that not only did loyal Americans face the Communist threat overseas, but that America itself harbored Soviet sympathizers and closet “Commies” by the hundreds. McCarthy spearheaded an effort to rid the country of Communism in a mass movement called the Red Scare. During the Scare, thousands of innocent citizens were accused of holding Communist sympathies, accusations which had little or no evidence to support them. Arthur Miller, appalled by the wide approval with which McCarthy’s actions were received, set about trying to convince the public of the spuriousness of the charges and attempted to reveal the greed and fear which motivated them. Realizing that any overt criticism would be rationalized by the public, he sought to describe another more removed event that would serve as a parallel to the Red Scare. Due to the striking similarities between the two events, Miller chose the Salem witch trials to represent the Red Scare in his play The Crucible. The impetus behind both the Red Scare and the Salem trials came from the innate
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