The Crucible Society Versus The Individual

The Crucible: Society Versus The Individual Essay, Research Paper

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible focuses on the fearful relationship between

society and the individual (”Readings on Arthur Miller” 145).

Individual: being a witch in the seventeenth century or being a

Communist in the 1950’s. Miller states: The Crucible is involved

essentially with the social relations of human beings, and

consequently, the predominant emphasis in writing the play was on

the conflict (”Readings on Arthur Miller” 145). Although, both

situations coincide with inquisition and mass hysteria, they conflict at

the fact that Communism among Americans existed in the 1950’s,

while witchcraft among seventeenth century Salem townspeople failed

to be an actuality.

In both time periods interrogation was present. As in 1692, the

inquisition of witches and wizards had its controversies, so did the

oppression on Communist party members in the 1950’s (”Un-

American Activities, House Committee on” Microsoft Encarta 97

Encyclopedia, “Witchcraft” Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia).

Twenty people were hanged for not confessing to such heresies.

Similarly, large numbers of Americans lost their jobs and materials or

were imprisoned if failed to be a true American. What is shown in

both eras was the existence of what we can call unsubstantiated

evidence and suffering of being accused.

Interrogations and hearings such as these stirred up suspicion

and fear, causing mass hysteria. Both eras suffered from this. Those

accused of witchcraft and wizardry saved themselves by confessing

and then by accusing others. To be arraigned, all you need is some

insignificant amount of proof by a townsperson or accused witch,

many of which accusations were only revenge of past incidents, or to

appease the court. Likewise, this happened during the McCarthy Era.

Knowing the wrong person affected your standing possibilities of

whether you would be arraigned or not. Therefore, everyone feared

each other, if you were or were not a suspect. Pointing fingers was

the only way to show your sincerity to the protection of the country.

Mass hysteria was a result of these hearings because of the suspicion

and fear it stirred.

The Red Scare and the Salem witch trials were definitely alike in

some ways, still, the parallel fails at one important point:

Communism existed; witchcraft did not (”Readings on Arthur Miller”

145). At the time of the Salem witch trials, the psychological states

(”Readings on Arthur Miller” 145) of the victims were different than

those during the Red Scare. Miller states: …the individual is seen

through society (”Just Looking for a Home” online). He is referring to

the McCarthy Era. Those blacklisted were connected with the

Communist Party, and they were guilty of that. Yet, others had no

connection at all. So, Communism was real and society looked down

on the existing Communists. But, Miller also states: …society is seen

through the individual (”Just Looking for a Home” online). Here, he

refers to the psychological state of the victims of the Salem witch

trials. All the accused were not witches, but were forced to believe

that they were the “bad” of society. Although, this is not so among

the McCarthy Era, because they knew whether or not they were

Capitalist or Communist. An example of forced belief comes from

Tituba’s confession. To compensate, you had to confess. In other

words, the victim in Salem believed he was “bad” and saw society as

“good.” Communism existed in the McCarthy Era, but witchcraft only

existed among the Salem townspeople because they were forced to

believe that it existed among themselves.

Arthur Miller was able to reflect the same dilemmas that existed

on both time periods. However, they differ in the actual existence of

the “bad” individuals. Many innocent lives and worklives were

claimed as a result of these trials, yet, Arthur Miller was able to

expound this through his works.