LiteratureThe Crucible by Arthur Miller

McCarthyism and The Crucible

4 Mins read

The Crucible by Arthur Miller presents the real historical situation of America, stated back after World War II, America and Russia started to view each other uneasily. The two countries had been based mostly on opposing ideologies, specifically capitalism and communism. In addition, every nation was quickly increasing its political affect all through Europe and the Third World. In 1947, the Cold War started, and the 2 powers started to deal with each other as lethal enemies. In America, anybody who had ever flirted with socialist or communist beliefs was instantly seen as a traitor to the American way of life.

Although the persecution of leftists took its title from the McCarthy hearings of the early Nineteen Fifties, it really started with the publication of the Attorney-General’s List in 1947 by the House Committee of Un-American Activities (HUAC). This record con­tain names of individuals with ties to subversive or communist organizations. Later, this record expanded to grow to be the infamous Blacklist, by which hundreds of individuals had been forbidden to work of their professions. In addition, HUAC held hearings to analyze charges of “UnAmericanism.” These hearings con­tinued throughout the McCarthy period and had been usually more damag­ing than the McCarthy hearings themselves.

In 1950, the Chinese Revolution had simply been gained, the Russians had exploded their first atomic bomb and the Korean War had simply begun. The time was ripe for an explosion of anti-communist feeling. Overnight, Senator Joseph McCarthy grew to become well-known along with his accusation that, for 20 years, the Democratic authorities had been nurturing the expansion of com­munism in America. Under McCarthy, Senate hearings had been arranged and the wholesale persecution of leftists started.

Read About: Justify The Crucible as Modern Tragedy

It ought to be remembered that throughout the Spanish Civil War and World War II, many individuals had labored with socialists and leftists to fight fascism. Indeed, just a few years before, America and Russia had been allies. Under McCarthyism, nevertheless, anticommunist hysteria grew to become so intense and so irrational that even reasonable liberals referred to it as a witch hunt. As Miller states in his notes to The Crucible, “in America any man who is not reactionary in his views is open to the charge of alliance with the Red hell-a political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence.”

The McCarthy and HUAC hearings adopted an analogous pat­tern. As every “witness” took the stand, he could be requested whether or not he had ever had any dealings with communists. If he refused to reply, he might be arrested. If he denied the cost, he could be requested to show his innocence by giving the names of those that did have communist connections. If he confessed to having as soon as attended a leftist meeting or contributed to a leftist cause, then he was requested to point out that he had reformed by naming others who had attended that meeting or labored for that cause. Those who had been named were then referred to as to the hear­ings as new witnesses.

Unfortunately, few witnesses had the braveness to face as much as the McCarthy and HUAC committees. Most willingly gave the names of associates and colleagues who had at a while been related to leftist causes. If they didn’t know any names, they usually repeated rumors or just lied. And, as one critic commented in disgust, “they lied, not to save their lives, but to save their swimming pools.”

The McCarthy hearings notably targeted on the humanities in America. Between 1950 and 1954, a number of artists and intellec­tuals had been imprisoned for refusing to testify, together with Dashiell Hammett and the well-known “Hollywood Ten.” In addition, hundreds of writers, musicians, actors and administrators had been “blacklisted” and forbidden to work. Some left the country, others modified professions, and nonetheless others modified their names. Some resumed their careers when the blacklist was lifted within the Nineteen Sixties, however for many the damage was everlasting.

Eventually, McCarthy’s energy collapsed beneath its own weight. As the federal government and the arts had been purged over and over, the previous lists grew to become drained and worn. McCarthy grew to become wilder and wilder in his accusations, claiming that the American military had grown to be disloyal and that highly effective generals had been traitors. The public grew to become more and more skeptical of McCarthy’s charges and started to press for the reality. Public opposition elevated as various well-known witnesses, together with Arthur Miller, challenged the authority of the HUAC and McCarthy hearings.

The Crucible was first carried out before audience in January of 1953. It appeared like a slap within the face to McCarthy by the great American playwright. McCarthyism had been referred to as a witch-hunt, and right here was a play about the true witch-hunt. Parallels between the Salem court and the McCarthy and HUAC hearings had been clearly drawn.

During the hearings, as in Salem, due strategy of legislation was deserted and hysteria was unfold by means of lies and rumors. Witnesses had been trapped into dishonest confessions and compelled to falsely accuse their associates and neighbors. Those who opposed the hearings had been accused of working for the Red devil, relatively than merely the Devil, as in Salem. In Washington, as in Salem, many harmless individuals suffered. As Miller says of the victims of the witch-hunt, “one can only pity them all, just as we will be pitied someday.”

Read About: Witch-Hunting or Witchcraft in The Crucible

Today, the Salem witch-hunt is way behind us and the McCarthy period too is a history. Nonetheless, The Crucible nonetheless has political meaning for our time. In his notes to The Crucible, Miller makes into consideration out that “the balance has yet to be struck between order and freedom.” Every age and each society has its repres­sions. In the previous few years, members of the “Moral Majority” have more and more tried to restrict numerous freedoms within the United States. Quite probably, Americans will quickly have to decide on once more between authority of the state and freedom of the person.

The Crucible’s themes, then, are timeless. As long as governments proceed to distort the reality, people with braveness and integrity will proceed to challenge them. The selection between freedom and repression is at all times with us.

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