In Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible, the townspeople are afraid of witchcraft in the Puritan society of early America. In some ways, this is similar to McCarthyism in America in the 1950’s. McCarthyism was the fear of communism that was promoted by Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. This was a time of fear after World War II in 1950-1954. McCarthy conducted hearings accusing people who were suspected of being related to communism. During the hearings, McCarthy forced others to say names of other “known followers” of communism, and if they refused to give names they were imprisoned.
The Crucible was based on the Salem Witch Trials. This era had the same tactics of dealing with the supposed followers as McCarthyism, but in the Crucible, it was for witchcraft. Many people were accused of witchcraft and put to death for being unable to deny the accusations. The Salem Witch Trials in The Crucible and McCarthyism were both examples of false accusations and intolerance.
The Crucible and McCarthyism were both fueled by fear. In the beginning of the Crucible, Abigail, a woman who was in love with John Procter, began accusing people of being affiliated with witchcraft and communicating with the devil. She said, “She made me do it! She made Betty do it. She makes me drink blood!” (The Crucible). Abigail blamed Tituba about being a part of witchcraft and it soon let to her death because she couldn’t plead innocent. During this time, the court would blame you for being a part of witchcraft and it was almost impossible to prove yourself innocent. Abigail continues blaming people and fear started to come about in the town because they didn’t know who was next. McCarthyism was fueled by the fear of the communists taking over a potential nuclear war.
McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Trials did different things to the accused people. During the Salem Witch Trials in The Crucible, the people who were accused of witchcraft and denied their affiliation with the devil were hanged. When John Procter takes the blame for his wife, to avoid her death he accepts the punishment but he didn’t sign that he was affiliated. John Procter believes that his word is worth the amount of his signature because if he were to sign it, he would have signed his life away. During McCarthyism nobody was killed for being accused, most people were imprisoned and came out of prison with a bad reputation.
McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Trials were very complex events in history. From false accusations, fear, public humiliation, these two events played a big role in the history of the United States. McCarthyism was the fear of communism and in The Crucible, it was the fear of witchcraft. The United States has faced many problems with fear and these two problems being an example of this concept. Both McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Trials were different events but showing correlations between each other.