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The Crucible, written in 1952 by Arthur Miller at the time of McCarthyism in the USA, is based on events in Massachusetts at the end of the seventeenth century. This essay identifies the parallels between these two periods in history.

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Introduction

The Crucible. The Crucible, written in 1952 by Arthur Miller at the time of McCarthyism in the USA, is based on events in Massachusetts at the end of the seventeenth century. This essay identifies the parallels between these two periods in history. Massachusetts was one of the first areas of the American continent to be settled by the Pilgrim Fathers who left England because they were persecuted for their strict religious beliefs. In 1692, few people living outside of Massachusetts knew about the lives of those living there. It was generally believed, however, that they were a sad, pleasure-less group of people, who were forbidden any vain enjoyment by their creed. They had very few holidays or celebrations (they did not celebrate Christmas, a large Christian festival) and any short holiday that they did have simply meant less work and more prayer. Apart from their creed, a reason why holidays and celebrations were rare was because the people of Massachusetts had to work exceptionally hard to get even a single grain of corn from the land. ...read more.

Middle

If people called before the HUAC refused to name names, they were added to a blacklist that had been drawn up by the Hollywood film studios. Over 320 people were placed on this list that stopped them from working in the entertainment industry. This included Leonard Bernstein and Charlie Chaplin. It was then decided to use the Alien Registration Act against the American Communist Party. Leaders of the party were arrested and in October 1949, after a nine-month trial, eleven members were convicted of violating the act. Over the next two years another 46 members were arrested and charged with advocating the overthrow of the government. On 9th February 1950, Joseph McCarthy, a senator from Wisconsin, made a speech claiming to have a list of 205 people in the State Department known to be members of the American Communist Party (like the people of Massachusetts, he had a great feeling of self righteous indignation towards others). The list of names was not a secret and had been in fact published by the Secretary of State in 1946. ...read more.

Conclusion

The girls of the village start the whole thing rolling however by pretending that they have seen the devil, in order that their 'leader', Abigail Williams can be married to John Proctor (he is already married but has had an affair with Abigail. His wife knows about it and John has sworn to never see her again. Her feelings for him however are still very violent). John Proctor ends up in a position very similar to that which Arthur Miller himself was put in, in the 1950's, suffering under McCarthyism. Whilst the court tries to persuade John Proctor to betray his friends, Miller was asked to name the people he had seen at a communist party meeting. They were both very nearly persuaded to do this, by the temptation of being able to live, and being able to live a calm and unworried life. Unlike so many others however, they both refused to sink to such a low level in order that their lives would be saved. '...I would not violate what on the spur of the moment I said was my sense of myself.' - Arthur Miller. ...read more.

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