Essays similarities between the crucible and mccarthyism

Cohn then asked me to take the gangsters in my script, who were threatening and murdering their opponents, and simply change them to Communists. Yet I kept being drawn back to it. I had read about the witchcraft trials in college, but it was not until I read a book published in —a two-volume, thousand-page study by Charles W. Upham, who was then the mayor of Salem—that I knew I had to write about the period. I visited Salem for the first time on a dismal spring day in ; it was a sidetracked town then, with abandoned factories and vacant stores.

In the gloomy courthouse there I read the transcripts of the witchcraft trials of , as taken down in a primitive shorthand by ministers who were spelling each other. But there was one entry in Upham in which the thousands of pieces I had come across were jogged into place. It was from a report written by the Reverend Samuel Parris, who was one of the chief instigators of the witch-hunt. Immediately Abigail cried out her fingers, her fingers, her fingers burned.

In this remarkably observed gesture of a troubled young girl, I believed, a play became possible. By this time, I was sure, John Proctor had bedded Abigail, who had to be dismissed most likely to appease Elizabeth. There was bad blood between the two women now. That Abigail started, in effect, to condemn Elizabeth to death with her touch, then stopped her hand, then went through with it, was quite suddenly the human center of all this turmoil.

Mccarthyism and the Crucible

All this I understood. I had not approached the witchcraft out of nowhere, or from purely social and political considerations. My own marriage of twelve years was teetering and I knew more than I wished to know about where the blame lay. That John Proctor the sinner might overturn his paralyzing personal guilt and become the most forthright voice against the madness around him was a reassurance to me, and, I suppose, an inspiration: it demonstrated that a clear moral outcry could still spring even from an ambiguously unblemished soul.

Moving crabwise across the profusion of evidence, I sensed that I had at last found something of myself in it, and a play began to accumulate around this man. But as the dramatic form became visible, one problem remained unyielding: so many practices of the Salem trials were similar to those employed by the congressional committees that I could easily be accused of skewing history for a mere partisan purpose.

Inevitably, it was no sooner known that my new play was about Salem than I had to confront the charge that such an analogy was specious—that there never were any witches but there certainly are Communists. And the irony is that klatches of Luciferians exist all over the country today; there may even be more of them now than there are Communists. As with most humans, panic sleeps in one unlighted corner of my soul.


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This anxiety-laden leap backward over nearly three centuries may have been helped along by a particular Upham footnote. After all, only the Devil could lend such powers of invisible transport to confederates, in his everlasting plot to bring down Christianity. It was as though the court had grown tired of thinking and had invited in the instincts: spectral evidence—that poisoned cloud of paranoid fantasy—made a kind of lunatic sense to them, as it did in plot-ridden , when so often the question was not the acts of an accused but the thoughts and intentions in his alienated mind.

The breathtaking circularity of the process had a kind of poetic tightness. Not everybody was accused, after all, so there must be some reason why you were. By denying that there is any reason whatsoever for you to be accused, you are implying, by virtue of a surprisingly small logical leap, that mere chance picked you out, which in turn implies that the Devil might not really be at work in the village or, God forbid, even exist. Therefore, the investigation itself is either mistaken or a fraud. You would have to be a crypto-Luciferian to say that—not a great idea if you wanted to go back to your farm.

The more I read into the Salem panic, the more it touched off corresponding images of common experiences in the fifties: the old friend of a blacklisted person crossing the street to avoid being seen talking to him; the overnight conversions of former leftists into born-again patriots; and so on. Apparently, certain processes are universal. The thought that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable And so the evidence has to be internally denied. That plain, craggy English was liberating in a strangely sensuous way, with its swings from an almost legalistic precision to a wonderful metaphoric richness.

But it was not yet my language, and among other strategies to make it mine I enlisted the help of a former University of Michigan classmate, the Greek-American scholar and poet Kimon Friar. He later translated Kazantzakis. As in the film, nearly fifty years later, the actors in the first production grabbed the language and ran with it as happily as if it were their customary speech.

With its five sets and a cast of twenty-one, it never occurred to me that it would take a brave man to produce it on Broadway, especially given the prevailing climate, but Kermit Bloomgarden never faltered.

Connecting McCarthyism and The Crucible Essay - Words | Bartleby

Well before the play opened, a strange tension had begun to build. I knew of two suicides by actors depressed by upcoming investigation, and every day seemed to bring news of people exiling themselves to Europe: Charlie Chaplin, the director Joseph Losey, Jules Dassin, the harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler, Donald Ogden Stewart, one of the most sought-after screenwriters in Hollywood, and Sam Wanamaker, who would lead the successful campaign to rebuild the Old Globe Theatre on the Thames.

On opening night, January 22, , I knew that the atmosphere would be pretty hostile. The coldness of the crowd was not a surprise; Broadway audiences were not famous for loving history lessons, which is what they made of the play. Over the years, as Joseph McCarthy was no longer involved in politics and the fear of communism began to die down, the term was still used to characterize anti-communism groups in America.

In the end, even though there were cases in which McCarthy managed to root out actual communist supporters all of his muckraking, lies, and negative enforcement led to the downfall of the McCarthy era. Eventually after three-thousand federal employees were questioned, includingMcCarthy, it was made clear that many of his accusations were false and many of the charges were dropped. The conviction was one of many brought up due to evidence of a communist conspiracy to misuse American passports.

Miller, who Was now married to Marilyn Monroe, stated that he had been warned that he would be attacked by McCarthy just as many of his acquaintances have and that he would refuse to back down. Miller knew that he was innocent, but he was also aware of McCarthy fierce tactics in order to win a ease. Before Miller was sent to court he tried to plead his innocence fully aware that his chances were slim to non, and after failing to do so he was sent before the House of Un-American Activities Committee.

How to cite this essay

Miller knew that if he was to act out of order in court or seem disrespectful in any way that it would severely cut down his chances on winning the case. All of the questions that he refused to answer were deemed unnecessary to the case and had no relations with the passport inquiry.

What is McCarthyism? And how did it happen? - Ellen Schrecker

His counsel argued that the committee was simply trying to expose the playwright for exposures sake which is illegal. However, Judge McLaughlin found that the HUGH did have the right to look into the passport regulations and they found that he did have trouble receiving a passport from the State Department. Miller admitted that there were two very short periods, in 1 and 1 , in which he had been close to communist activity so he could see where they might get these ideas.

He also made it clear that although he was close the communist activity, his allegiances had always been and will always e with the united States. The day the court an announced their final verdict Miller was not in court. There was no exact date announced for sentencing, but it was made clear that the case would automatically go to an appeal.

Miller knew that he had been wronged and many of his us porters knew this too and some even spoke out against the verdict. The session made about this case was bound to question the whole system on congressional inquiries and their impingement of individual rights. In , the verdict was reversed in appeals court allowing Arthur Miller to finally put the accusation behind him and return to his everyday life.


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  • At the time, Senator Joseph McCarthy was head of a committee to question people about their relations to the communist party and eventually Arthur Miller himself was being accused. By releasing the play many people realized the similarities between the two events and began to see that the accusations were clearly far fetched at times. On top of the fact that Miller wanted to clear his name, he knew that this story would be a hit because of the time period in which he wrote it.

    He play was more successful than he had imagined. It attracted so much publicity that it marked him as one of the greatest play writes to ever live. Just as McCarthy would accuse people of communism with little evidence, people such as Abigail Williams and Mr. They used the black list as punishment for those who refused to cooperate with the committee in an attempt to get people to fess up about anything that they might know. The moment something odd was discovered about someone they would be accused almost immediately such as when a doll was found in the house of Elizabeth Proctor.

    As soon as the doll was found Mrs. Joseph McCarthy was so set on finding unionists that he would use any lead he could find to get one of his victims on the stand. It is also said that Arthur Miller used John Proctor to portray himself during these unfortunate events. Even though it would be clear on most occasions that you were innocent it was nearly impossible to overturn the jury and most people who spoke out against the allegations would eventually be accused of witchcraft or communism as well.

    This is what happened to John Proctor when he attempted to speak to the court about the accusations being made. Free essay samples Essays Mccarthyism and the Crucible. Mccarthyism and the Crucible 1 January We will write a custom essay sample on.