How does Miller demonstrate the truth of the concept that "history repeats itself" in The Crucible? Answer by drawing parallels to the witch trials of 1690s and the Red Scare of the 1950s.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Miller demonstrates the truth of "history repeats itself" in suggesting parallels between the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s and the Red Scare of the 1950s.

One of the most demonstrative ways through which Miller demonstrates how history repeats itself is in his view of authority.  He is able to illuminate authority figures in The Crucible that are more interested in substantiating their own power than the public good.  People like Parris, Hathorne, and Danforth fail to take any other interest into account.  Power is what motivates them.  Keeping and consolidating it at all costs is the driving force behind their authority structure as they invoked public safety to gain political importance.   This trend was repeated in the 1950s with the House Un- American Activities Committee.  Leaders like Joseph McCarthy used the fear of Communists as a way to increase their own prestige.  While Miller clearly argues that his play is "not history," he also understands that history repeats itself in the way he casts authority in Salem in comparison with the Red Scare of the 1950s.

Another way in which history repeats itself is how people fare in the midst of such intense power structures.  Miller suggests that good and fair- minded individuals can be placed in impossible conditions if authority wills it so.  In both Salem and the Red Scare of the 1950s, individuals are forced to recant beliefs, accept what might not be true, and are manipulated to support the interests of leadership.  Miller shows that history repeats itself in how authority can bully people.  

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