The novel, The Crucible was written in 1953 by Arthur Miller, which was based on the Salem Witch Trials existing in the late 1600s. In the play, Abigail and several other young women accuse innocent citizens of Salem for the action of witchcraft. During the trials, many individuals were unfairly persecuted; such as John Proctor. This event in history may be associated with the Red Scare, in which individuals were tried for their questionable influences of communism in the United States.
When Miller compares the character of John Proctor to himself, the reader is able to relate the similar experiences that both men faced. The Crucible demonstrates the struggle against corruption involving the court, which lead to the death of many innocent individuals in Salem. The Crucible generates an allegory for Arthur Miller’s struggles with McCarthyism because of his similar experience relating to John Proctor’s battle against the Salem Witch Trials, and the relation between the actions of the court in both situations.
Arthur Miller uses several writing methods in order to convey The Crucible as an allegory for his struggles with McCarthyism. Miller demonstrates how the Crucible represents an allegory for his conflict with McCarthyism by relating his experiences with the plot of the novel. Miller relates the novel to his struggles by stating, “Should the accused confess, his honesty could only be proved by naming former confederates.” (Are You Now… 34) Miller is explaining how the court operated, in terms of coming to their conclusions. He is showing the similarity between his experience with the trials involving the Red Scare, and the trials in Salem.
The witchcraft trials were very much alike the communism suspicions in the United States, in which many individuals were falsely accused for crimes they had not committed. The court’s duty was to draw names of other participants of the so-called “crimes”. Miller indicates the similarity in Judge Danforth’s statement to McCarthyism in the quote, “Mr. Proctor. When the devil came to you did you see Rebecca Nurse in his company?” (Crucible 129) This displays how the court believed your testimony, only if you were to mention other members.
Miller uses the technique of connecting the two experiences together by incorporating the approaches in which the court took to obtain valuable information. The court’s actions demonstrate how unjust they were in coming to conclusions. Another way that Miller creates an allegory for his struggles with McCarthyism in the novel is when Hale tells Abigail, “You must have no fear to tell us who they are, do you understand? We will protect you.” (Crucible 43) This technique pressures Abigail into falsely accusing others for acts they had not committed, although she is turning the blame away from herself.
Miller relates this technique to his experience with the court in which they attempted to make him feel protected, if he would reveal his knowledge. This proves that the court did whatever they could to extract information from the suspects. The novel proves to represent an allegory for Miller’s struggles with the court, and the suspicion that the jury had among the suspects. He relates the Salem Witch trials to the Red Scare by stating, “In both places, to keep social unity intact, the authority of leaders had to be hardened and words of skepticism toward them constricted” (Are You Now… 32).
Arthur Miller is clarifying the fact that as the trials continued, the more strict and severe the court became. This often caused for false accusations against innocent citizens. As the trials developed, the courts were able to establish their own conclusions stemmed from the proceedings. Miller explains how John Proctor rebelled against the court’s unjust actions of jumping to conclusions before gaining enough logical reasoning. He claims that Proctor, “ [had] become the most forthright voice against the madness around him” (Why I Wrote… 26).
He relates his experience with the court to the Proctor’s relation with the Witch Trials because they both had stood their ground against the authority. Miller continues on to state, “I sensed that I had at last found something of myself in it,” (Why I Wrote… 26) Miller is able to finalize his relationship with Proctor by professing how the character in the novel was an inspirational figure. Overall, this strategy of relating himself to the character of John Proctor proved to be effective in the representation of Miller’s fight against McCarthyism.
The Crucible constructs an allegory for Arthur Miller’s struggles with McCarthyism because of his similar experience relating to John Proctor’s battle against the Salem Witch Trials, and the relation between the actions of the court in both situations. Arthur Miller is able to develop an allegory from the play to his experience with several strategies. He relates the actions of the court to the way in which the court treated him. He then uses the similarity between the role Proctor played in the play, to the role he had in his struggles during the Red Scare. In conclusion, Miller used many effective tactics to create a compelling allegory of his struggles against McCarthyism in the novel, The Crucible.
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