Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Crucible McCarthyism

As much as I enjoyed reading A Visit from the Goon Squad, I’m very happy to be moving on to The Crucible. This play is one of my favorites- it’s so effective in its portrayal of a panic-stricken town, and falls into the rare category of period-drama page-turners. What I find most interesting about this play, though, is not its fabulous characters or unnerving realism. What gets me is how the historical context of the author’s life shapes the story.

The Crucible depicts the town of Salem in a frantic craze, with women constantly accusing and being accused of witchcraft. The author of the play, Arthur Miller, lived during the fear of Communism and subsequent accusations known as the Red Scare. Miller himself was accused of having Communist sympathies, and he was convicted of having contempt for the government, mostly because he refused to implicate others.

Miller’s own experiences allowed him to more realistically portray the panic of the Salem Witch Trials. More importantly, though, he was able to use his work to make a political statement about the absurdity of the Red Scare accusations by turning the Salem Witch Trials into an allegory for McCarthyism. Although his statement resulted in Miller being brought before Congress, his work survived the blacklist and has been widely preformed, even receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Miller is not the only author to use his work to make a political statement. George Orwell used his book Animal Farm as a commentary on Leninist Russia, and multiple presidents have used their books as political dialogues. By looking at the historical context of a novel or play, a reader can often find the author’s intended message. It is important to be able to understand the larger implications of a work, and I look forward to better understanding The Crucible through English class.


  1. This makes me really want to read the book. Its so interesting how he relates the idea of witchcraft with communism.

  2. I completely agree and share your excitement for the book. It seems so interesting and there definitely seems to be some underlying themes that would be cool to explore.

  3. I thought your blog post was well thought out and very interesting. I think it is cool that you made the connection between the story and the author's life. Reading your post has made me more intrigued in the play.

  4. I agree with Esther about how reading your post has made me more interested in the play as well. This play is one of the few books that I have enjoyed reading in class and your description of how Miller was influenced by McCarthyism seems to be spot on.