"McCarthyism" vs. the witch trials in "The Crucible"

Essay by wellerhippolvrHigh School, 11th gradeA, March 2006

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In today's society, many people are accused of crimes so absurd that when put to trial, they name others of the same crime. This is to redirect the focus from them to others. "The Crucible" and in "McCarthyism" had the same influence on people. People were accused of witchcraft and being communist, so they accused others to lessen their penalty and redirect focus. "The Crucibl"e is about the witch trials in Salem in 1692. "McCarthyism" is about the communist trials in the United States during 1950 to 1954. These two events in history are very similar, yet also very different.

Both the witch trials and McCarthyism had innocent people wrongly accused, had reputations ruined, had people put in jail or worse, and the accused had very little choices afterward. In both cases, many were wrongly accused of being a witch or being communist. In The Crucible, Abigail and Betty accuse many of being "with the devil" (pg.

48). They accused others to blame others for being caught dancing in the woods one night. Once it got started, the "whole country's talkin' of witchcraft!" (pg. 18). Senator Joseph McCarthy accused others of being a communist to stop the fear of communists, to stop an uprising against the government, and to stop espionage, whether the accused were innocent or not. The fear of the communists led to the "Red Scare" (named after the communist color: red). (http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/Dl/McCarthy/McCarthy documents.html) One instance is a big Hollywood investigation, where the House of Un-American Activities Committees (HUAC) investigated 41 people, named the "friendly witnesses" who blacklisted 19 people. The "Hollywood Ten" refused to talk or name names, using the first amendment as justice to their cause. Those ten were sent to jail for six to twelve months. (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk. USAmccarthyism.htm) This emphasizes the point that...