Crucible and McCarthyism

In American History there were two proceedings that were very similar, yet three hundred years apart. The Salem Witch Trials took place in 1692, the seventeenth century and McCarthyism took place in 1948 between 1956, the mid twentieth century. These two proceedings are known as two of the greatest mass tragedies in America. The Crucible is an allegory of McCarthyism or in other words the second Red Scare. During McCarthyism the United States was petrified of Communists influence. Many people in both the Crucible and McCarthyism who feared the court provided names of suspects in an attempt to save themselves. Throughout these two proceedings, there is the concept of mass hysteria. Mass hysteria is a form of group thinking in which several people have something in common and begin to think in the same way. The Crucible began as a way for the oppressed girls to avoid being punished. The girls then found this to be an ideal way to get revenge on anyone whom you disliked. People started accusing their neighbors of being witches so they could steal their farmland. Others, like Abby, accused others of being witches if they wanted to steal their husband or wives, or even possessions. The McCarthy hearings, as they were known as, were known to have dominated our country.

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These hearings, were of suspects being related to communism, were interviewed and forced to give up the names of others, or they were imprisoned, and their names were black listed. One similarity between McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Trials is that “everybody is doing it mentally.” The lives of the innocent people were ruined in both eras because of all the accusations and punishments. Both the people accused in the Salem Witch Trials and the people accused in The McCarthy hearings were found guilty with such little evidence. There were so many uninhabited accusations, with little to no proof. During the Crucible time period, those accused of being witches were sometimes sentenced to be tied to a rock and thrown in a pond, and if they sank, they were declared innocent, but if they somehow survived the dunking, then they were shown to be witches and then executed. Most of those found guilty of witchcraft were hung. In the Crucible, Giles Corey was pressed to death with rocks, because he refused to plead guilty or innocent. Throughout the Crucible people’s names are destroyed even when they are completely innocent. In the book The Crucible by Arthur Miller, John Proctor states, “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name”(Miller)!

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