The Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism

Essay by Steph17888High School, 11th gradeA, October 2004

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Ogarek Period 5

"The whole past is the procession of the present." - Thomas Carlyle

This statement coincides with the idea that history repeats itself. A perfect example of this is the similarities between the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism. The Salem Witch Trials were portrayed in the novel, The Crucible. Arthur Miller wrote this novel during the McCarthy era. Arthur Miller was put on trial for communism in the same fashion of many during the Salem Witch Trials. Many of the characters in Arthur Miller's play are similar to people from his time as well as the similarity of both mass publics of the two times.

The first similarity between characters is Abigail and Senator McCarthy. Abigail and Senator McCarthy played similar roles in the hysteria of the masses by accusing others of something hard to prove. Senator McCarthy accused many of belonging to the communist party and Abigail accused many of witchcraft.

"I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!"(The Crucible Page 48) Abigail cried this in the first Act of The Crucible. Once Abigail told on a person, if they admitted to witchcraft to avoid death they could not find work or gain their good name back. In a similar way Senator McCarthy would tell on others through a list that was dubbed the "Black List". If one was put on the black list, one would be fired and then it was nearly impossible for one to find work. Both Abigail and Senator McCarthy craved power and obtained it by their accusations. They both continued their accusatory ways at many others' expense because they were getting closer to their goals. Senator McCarthy had an endless goal of more power, popularity and fame. Abigail...