Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" is one of the best known American plays ever written. The book version of the play has sold more than six million copies, and the play itself is performed in theaters all around the world to this day. But why did Miller choose to base his play script on the Salem witch trials, an event that happened almost three-hundred years before his time. It is most definitely because that precise event is the perfect metaphor for what was happening in the time of the play's writing. The purpose behind the play was to illustrate how wrong McCarthy's hunt for communists of the early 1950's was, without directly pointing at the situation and at the people it involved.
From the very beginning of the communist hunt Arthur sought to publish his thoughts on the event. He did not agree with the way the government was treating individuals accused of being communist and thought that public rights were being violated, but he did not dare to do so because he was afraid of being acknowledged as a clandestine communist.
Instead, writing about the Salem witch trials gave him the ability to portray his point of view of the hunt for reds without directly indicating any connections.
Arthur had read about the Salem which trials when he had been younger, but it wasn't until he read Charles W. Upham's account of the trials during the hunt for Reds, when he knew that he had to write a play about them. The two events had so much in common that it was hard for him to ignore.
The same panic, which paralyzed the Salem public in the spring of 1692, was paralyzing the United States. Actors were replacing Salem citizens, communists were replacing witches, and Danforth turned over his...