The Main Influence and Motive Behind Miller’s The Crucible
The book, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller was written for numerous reasons. Many believe that the main reason was to reflect mass bureaucratic and civil hysteria throughout the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Arthur Miller used realistic dialogue to convey a sense of fear caused by certain issues such as power abuse and false accusations. Another reason is to stress the similarities between the Salem Witch Trial and the Red scare of the 1950’s. People went through extreme fear that affected society and caused many to suffer. Arthur Miller’s book, The Crucible, was written to express mass hysteria and prove how fear was demonstrated.
The main reason The Crucible was written was to exhibit how fear is used to overcome a group of people. In “Why I Wrote the Crucible” Miller says “Fear doesn’t travel well; just as it can warp judgement, it’s absence can diminish memory’s truth. What terrifies one generation is lily to bring only a puzzled smile to the next.” Miller is saying how we need fear in order to progress through our daily lives. However, too much fear can make people do horrible things and even become traumatized. Miller also states that he remembers those times from The Red Scare and how it built The Crucible’s “Skeleton”, which is based off fear itself. He wanted to educate people on how governments abuse power and can be gullible when it comes to others in charge. He also wanted to educate people on how they could be used as a scapegoat in certain circumstances. In Miller’s book, he recognizes the fact how fear overcomes reason within the Salem Trials and the Red Scare.
Arthur Miller wanted to help people become aware on the fact that governments can abuse their given powers. In Salem, Massachusetts, the government took over 200 innocent lives all because of gaining power. Millers article, “Why I wrote the Crucible” shows how the story is connected and influenced by McCarthyism. McCarthyism is when someone is accused for something that they have no official proof of doing. “The term McCarthyism has since become a byname for defamation of character or reputation by indiscriminate allegations on the basis of unsubstantiated charges.” (Britannica) This means that it has become a name for someone who is charged and possibly punished for actions that are not proven. This name became known within the 1950’s because of Joseph McCarthy. He organized multiple investigations to expose “communists” in the U.S governmental territory. When he was elected to the Senate he claimed that 205 communists have gained access to the State Department. Many people were accused, lost their jobs, and faced punishment. Relationships were ruined and people throughout the country didn’t know who they could trust. McCarthyism connects to The Crucible because they both deal with people being accused of things that were not proven.. In the Salem Witch Trials, innocent people were prosecuted by accusations with no evidence. Characters such as Abigail Williams accused many people of having satanic spirits.In the story, Abigail accuses Mary Warren of having a demonic spirit which lead to her having a unfair trial in court. Both, The Crucible and McCarthyism, demonstrated how people were given unjust trials and allegations and how the government overstepped their powers.
When Miller wrote this story, McCarthyism was going on and influencing Miller greatly, which was the main influence the provoked him to write the story. It not only connects to The Crucible, but it can connect in today’s world and affairs that occur in recent events. Some examples of this is the Duke Lacrosse Case. This case is when three players from the Duke’s Men’s Lacrosse team were falsely accused of rape in 2006. This case caused discussions of race, a lot of media, and ruined reputations. They were accused by a women named Crystal Gail Mangum, a stripper and a dancer, and student of North Carolina Central University. After a year, all charges were dropped against their rape allegations. Another example is the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot Movement.” This movement was created because of the death of Michael Ferguson, an 18 year old black man, who was shot by a white police officer. Witnesses claimed that his last words were “Don’t shoot” before getting murdered by the officer. Protesters gathered during the following weeks to protest against racism and shootings like these. This movement connected and influenced the “Black Lives Matter Movement.” However, a St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S Department of Justice could not prove what was said. Many writers, including The Washington Post, claim that the movement was “built on a lie.” It was turned into an entire movement with no proof of it actually happening. Both of these examples reflect on McCarthyism today and how people are accused of things with no evidence. This also reflects on fear and how people always worry about what will happen next. With false allegations like these, anything can happen to anyone without any proof and ruin their reputation and career. This proves that McCarthyism has been an issue since the 1600’s and still is present today.
The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, was written for numerous reasons such as bringing awareness to mass hysteria and social injustice that affected society and still does today. There are many lessons that people can take away from reading The Crucible. People can learn to not always believe what they hear in the media and from others. Another lesson is that people can let themselves become aware of the injustice within society. This book teaches society to stand up for what is right and to not accept the lies and deceit from other people.
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