The Crucible By Arthur Miller: A Comparison Of Salem Witch Hunt And The Communist Hunt
The Crucible is a play written by Arthur Miller based on the tragic witch hunt of 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. Based on the 1950 communist hunt orchestrated by Senator Joseph McCarthy, Miller’s play give us an insight on witch hunts in 1692 and the communist hunts of the 1950s by discussing the themes of betrayal, loyalty, justice and honesty. The play discusses the technological differences on the time periods from America in the 1692 to America in the 1950s. Miller’s ultimate goal was to compare both the 1692 Salem Witch Hunt and the 1950 Communist Hunt. And first off the comparison can be seen in the main character of The Crucible, Abigail Williams, and Senator Joseph McCarthy. After Abigail Williams was caught dancing out in the woods and was accused of practicing witchcraft she set up this elaborate plan to accuse innocent people of being a witch so she wouldn’t get in trouble. And her elaborate plan resulted in innocent people dying because of false accusations put against them. As she continues to accuse people she mentions that she is a holy girl and would never converse with the devil by saying “I want to open myself! I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!”. Basically she is saying that yes I may have done sin in the devil’s work. But she is deemed innocent because she has erased her sins by going back to Jesus after doing the devil’s deed. And because she has confessed her sins, in her mind that means she can’t be accused of being a witch because she has released her sins upon the lord.
On the other hand Senator Joseph McCarthy had similar intentions as well when his campaign for reelections wasn’t doing so hot. Which sparked an idea in Senator McCarthy’s plan by accusing people of being communist. Well right of the bat his accusations were claimed of being a hoax and he was labeled a fraud. As he was elected in 1952 for senator he accused more people of being communist, resulting in 2, 000 government workers losing their jobs. In a speech made by Senator Mccarthy he stated “I have here in my hand a list of 205 that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department”. McCarthy accused 205 people of being communist, when actually there wasn’t 205 people on his list.
Sound familiar? I hope it does because both of these people created a scheme to convict innocent people of being “witches. ” In the story the common theme is betrayal and loyalty. And speaking of loyalty there is not much of it in this book. With the affair of Abigail and John Proctor there was no loyalty to Elizabeth in that situation. And betrayal, has anyone heard of that in 1692? What about your friends? Abigail completely forgot the girl code by ratting out her friends and claiming that they were witches. That’s truly shady. And this quote from Abigail about what she will do to Betty if she tells anyone about the incident ”Now look you. All of you. We danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam’s dead sisters. And that is all. And mark this. Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do it; I saw Indians smash my dear parents’ heads on the pillow next to mine, and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down!”(19). Abigail’s threat brings fear in to Betty keeping Abigail in the safe spot to not get accused of being a witch. I wouldn’t mess with Abigail after that comment, which gives her a great advantage to play innocent and holy like she claims she is even though we all know that she’s far from both. The dialect in the play is religious and holy. The people of Salem speak very loosely. They like to sling certain inappropriate words when they speak. Almost like they speak very freely with no filter. One particular conversation is when Proctor, Elizabeth and Mary are having a conversation and Proctor goes on to say this “I’ll whip the Devil out of you!”. The conversation continues with proctor trying to whip Mary. The actions in the play are tied in with the dialect. They are both used losely and even in arguments there are names being used and information that doesn’t need to be known. When accusing people they sometimes make things up or simply talk about the person’s past to basically sanctify themselves from the others and their sins and not be accused of witchcraft.
When referring to women they usually use demeaning words against women like “It is a whore”. I noticed that if a man cheats with another woman he gets called out but there are no words for these men only the woman. You would think they wouldn’t use words like that to talk about woman especially if they are very religious.
In conclusion Millers play has compared both Abigail Williams and Senator McCarthy to people who have accused innocent people to push their social status up only to have Abigail runoff and become a prostitute and McCarthy was censured and his image was in shambles. While the story is based on the Puritans and a Republican Miller was able to capture the central idea to help explain a universal theme just written in different times.
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