How Is The Crucible An Allegory
How is The Crucible by Arthur Miller an allegory?
Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953, during the era of McCarthyism in the United States. The play, which is a fictionalized account of the Salem Witch Trials, is an allegory (or extended metaphor) about McCarthyism. During the time period of McCarthyism, which lasted approximately from 1950 to 1956 (with effects lingering afterward), Senator Joseph McCarthy began to accuse government officials and other people of being Communists. As a result, people were blacklisted and stripped of their livelihoods with very little substantiating evidence. The U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated government employees, people in the entertainment industry, and others. Arthur Miller himself was called before HUAC in 1956, though he refused to answer questions about other people who had attended meetings he attended. As a result, he was found in contempt of Congress. The process of conducting a witch hunt can refer more broadly to any attempt to scare, blacklist, or otherwise harm people for their beliefs based on little evidence. It is this process, which was going on during the McCarthy era, that Miller was allegorizing in his play.
It was no different than what went on in Miller's play in Salem when one wayward villager decides to accuse people of dealing with the devil in the midst of their Puritanical rule. Likewise, the punishment could have included the death penalty (more so in Europe than in the US). However, Miller focused more on the aspects of the witch hunt that are universally horrid: the chase, the fear, the mounting anxieties, the betrayal and, most importantly, the worthlessness of it all when you see it from a broader perspective. How small and limited must the world of an accuser be not to see how much danger he or she is causing to the world around them
An allegory is an extended metaphor.
The Crucible is an allegory for what happened during the "red scare" in American in the 1950's. Senator McCarthy accused many people of being part of the communist party. It is said to have been a modern-day witch hunt. The people who were accused had to admit to being communist and be blacklisted, or not admit to communism and be prosecuted. It was a no-win situation, similar to the predicament of the accused in The Crucible
It is true that The Crucible was originally intended to be an allegory for McCarthyism in the 1950s. However, one could also apply it to any situation where public opinion takes over and creates panic, or adversely affects the outcome of justice, whether in an actual court or the court of public opinion. For instance, Michael Jackson's accusation of child molestation.