The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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How Is The Crucible An Allegory

How is The Crucible by Arthur Miller an allegory?

Arthur Miller's The Crucible allegorizes the actions taken by the House Un-American Activities Committee during the 1950s as well as any other potential, figurative witch hunt. The literal witch hunt of the play, inspired by the Salem witch trials, could represent any metaphorical witch hunt, a campaign against any group that is, in some way, unorthodox or unpopular. This could be communists, people with AIDS in the 1980s, people with minority political or religious views, and so on.

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An allegory is a text that has at least two "layers" of meaning. The first layer is the literal, obvious one; in this case, it is a fictionalized telling of some of the events that took place during the Salem witch trials: a literal witch hunt. The second layer is the metaphorical, less overt one; in The Crucible, this meaning is a figurative witch hunt, or a hysterical search to identify a person or people that one fears as a threat. We fear what we do not understand, and we often scapegoat people in an effort to quell our own feelings of panic and hysteria. During the 1950s, when Miller wrote the play, the most immediate threat felt by the American public was the threat of communism, and other educators have pointed out how the play allegorizes that era. But if the play only addressed fears of that threat, how popular would it still be today? Not very, perhaps. There was also a metaphorical witch hunt during the 1980s with the AIDS crisis. Just like during the Salem witch trials, a person...

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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.