In his classic drama The Crucible, Arthur Miller chronicles the scary of the Salem witch trials, an embarrassing episode of colonial America’s history. At first reading, one may just see Miller’s work as a brilliant account of the disaster of theocracy in America’s late seventeenth century. However, with an understanding of the period in which Miller penned his work, one can quickly see the witch trials of The Crucible as a genuine allegory of the “Red Scare” of the 1950s in America by drawing parallels in settings, characters, and the prevalent fear of both societies.
To begin with, although centuries apart, the 2 durations have several dramatic resemblances in regards to setting. Seventeenth century colonial America was a mystical, quite often frightening destination for those who had risked the dangers of a voyage from England to make a life for themselves to a New World. For these Puritan settlers of The Crucible, their new home of Salem touches “the edge of the wilderness” and appears” […] dark and threatening, over their shoulders night and day, for out of it Indian tribes marauded from time to time” (Miller 5). In contrast to these colonial emigrants looking for a land where they could enjoy a life devoid of persecution are the numerous European emigrants who flooded American soil in the late 1940s and early 1950s. These “contemporary” emigrants, like their colonial equivalents, arrived on a brand-new continent, one quite alien from the European nations that many of them had fled. Definitely, Miller had not only the apparent comparison of setting however likewise the distinct resemblances of characters in mind when he structured his allegory.
Enhancing the argument to support The Crucible as an allegory is the remarkable similarity in between the antagonists and lead characters from Miller’s work and the reality villains and heroes of the “Red Scare. Undoubtedly, Judge Hathorne and Deputy Governor Danforth’s unyielding authority in the Salem witch trials is similar to all who held position of power on the Committee for Un-American Activities. Just as twentieth century Senator Joseph McCarthy and his cronies thought that any semblance of Communism was a threat to America’s freedom, Danforth fears that “there is a moving plot to topple Christ in the nation!” which this plot needs to be removed (Miller 98). In addition to these narrow-minded antagonists from both durations are the “free thinkers,” who pick not to implicate any of their contemporaries in these “witch hunts.” Certainly the outspoken John Proctor who “speak [s] [his] own sins” but will not “judge another” due to the fact that he “has no tongue for it,” is symbolic of Arthur Miller himself as well as those of the artistic community who refused to link their good friends as “reds” when the fear over communist moles continued to mount (Miller 141).
Finally and most notably, it is this paranoia, common to both stories, that uses the greatest argument for the fact that Miller plans his work as an allegory. Post World War America was still recuperating from the evils of Hitler when the danger of Communism began to permeate into American society. Unfortunately, Senator McCarthy, with the zealous belief that the slightest hint of communism would rob America of its flexibilities, became so fanatical that he and his committee succeeded in frightening most American people. Simply as McCarthy compiled his “black list” of artists, who had done absolutely nothing un-American, Reverend Hale of Miller’s work feeds the colonists hysteria with his declaration that” […] the Devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the implicating finger points” (Miller 71). Ironically, in both cases, the very leaders who set out to protect the beliefs and rights of their people instead breached those rights to the extreme by feeding the hysteria with their paranoid attitudes.
Arthur Miller’s play certainly illustrates a tragic time in American history while providing the audience a vibrant account of the misdirected ideas of a theocracy. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Miller’s ulterior motive in composing this account was to have it serve as an allegory for the terrible “witch hunts” of the 1950s. Through his obvious parallels in both characters and setting in addition to the treatment of the fear from both periods, Arthur Miller has actually created a masterful allegory in his play The Crucible.