McCarthyism vs The Crucible
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McCarthyism vs. The Crucible
Every day the criminal justice system accuses people of crimes of which they are innocent. Some of these crimes are preposterous and in some extreme cases people have gone on the rampage accusing others of certain crimes. In the play The Crucible, which displays examples of events that happened during the Salem Witch Trials, many people are accused of being witches. McCarthyism was a political stance that took place in the 1950's, after World War II (Reader's Digest Dictionary 109). McCarthyism was a time when some Americans were accused of being communists. The Crucible and McCarthyism have many similarities and differences that show how people can react when inaccurate accusations are spread across an area.
The Crucible takes place in a Puritan town in the late 1600's. The town as a whole becomes caught up in the accusation that many people in the town are witches "the whole country's talkin' witchcraft!" (18). The accusations begin when a group of teenage girls are caught in the woods dancing and trying to put spells on people in the town. In order to save themselves from getting into trouble, they accuse many of the women in the town of being witches, casting spells, and of seeing the women "with the Devil!" (Miller 48). Even though the majority of the town has known the accused for years and the majority of the town "never saw no sign they had dealings with the Devil" (93), the accused are still forced to face the consequences. The consequences are that the accused are arrested and brought to trial with the teenage girls as witnesses. These women have one of two choices; they can either confess to the crimes of which they are innocent and live, or they can choose not to confess and they will be hanged. Many of the women choose not to confess because if they do, they will have to live the remainder of their lives with everyone believing that they are a witch. Due to this reason and the fact that for the most part these people are devout Christians, many will choose to die so they do not have to confess to having spoke to the Devil.
McCarthyism took place in the United States during the 1950's when Senator Joseph McCarthy accused people in the United States of being communists. Many of the accused were United States officials in high positions. Accusations of people being communists also spread to celebrities such as actors or musicians (Reader's Digest Dictionary 1049). The people accused of being communists were brought to trial, and if these people were convicted, then they would be jailed. Even if the person was not convicted, their image would be ruined and they would have a hard time building their image back to the way it was.
The Crucible and McCarthyism have several similarities even though they took place at completely different points in time. Both The Crucible and McCarthyism involved people being wrongly accused of actions they did not commit. Also, if someone in The Crucible confesses to being a witch in order to save their life, then their reputation is ruined and no one will ever view them the same way. The same holds for McCarthyism. When someone said they were a communist to avoid having to endure a long trial, they would never be viewed the same again. Also, for some of the cases in The Crucible the accused had land that others wanted to acquire; while the many accused during McCarthyism were people in high positions with power. This shows that some people, even at different points of time, will go to all extents to gain what they want, or to take something away from someone else.
Even though there are several similarities between The Crucible and McCarthyism, there are some differences too. For instance, in The Crucible many are hanged because they are believed to be witches, while no one is sentenced to the death penalty if they are accused of being a communist. Also, in The Crucible anyone in the entire town is able to bring charges on someone, while during McCarthyism it was mainly Joseph McCarthy that charged people and the basic public had no say as to whom was charged. Another
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Salem witch trials, McCarthyism, The Crucible, Witch-hunt, Joseph McCarthy, Crucible, Witchcraft
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