In The Crucible, what did Arthur Miller want readers to learn from his play?
Because The Crucible by Arthur Miller is an indictment against the “witch trials” of the McCarthy Cold War era, Miller is illustrating what happens when people give in to fear, hysteria, and a mob mentality. Like the Puritans who panicked over the thought of having witches in their midst, the same was happening in America with the public and government’s fear of communism infiltrating our society. Many of the first people accused by Senator Eugene McCarthy in his senate hearings were actors, writers, and directors who could possibly spread propaganda about communism. Arthur Miller was someone who was brought before the hearings to testify about his supposed ties to communism and to give names of people he thought were communists. Another one of Miller's plays, Death of a Salesman, was thought to have some anti-capitalism, pro-communistic rhetoric. Miller, in defiance of the senate hearings, declined to give up names of possible communists in Hollywood and wrote his famous play, The Crucible, about another time in history when hysterical fear led to the ruin of an earlier society, the Puritans. Miller wanted his readers to learn not to give in to fear, paranoia, and an oppressive government that sought to limits one's rights.
When writing The Crucible in the 1950s Arthur Miller was showing that it is sometimes okay to go against the rules. When he wrote the play, Americans were under attack from McCarthyism and the Red Scare. Americans were so afraid that Communism would infiltrate the country that they were willing to turn in their friends, neighbors, and even family members. You can see the parallelisms to the play. In the play the citizens are so worried that the devil has infiltrated their Christian town that they are willing to rip it apart. At the beginning of Act four we hear that crops are dying, cows are wandering, and children are being left helpless because the court has arrested and executed so many people.