What does the expression "coddling Communists" refer to within the U.S. government during the Truman Presidency?How does it relate to the Crucible?
"coddling Communists" has to do with Joseph McCarthy's hearings in the senate. He claimed that the US was "coddling" people associated with Communists by allowing them to live and work here. He went on a "witchunt" of his own, calling people before the committee and making them swear their loyalty to the US, then name three people whom they thought were Communists to prove their loyalty. You can see how easily that would get out of hand!
Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible during this time partly as a statement about McCarthy's action. The judges in the play also seek to continue the hunt, even though there is nothing to it.
Joseph McCarthy gets a bad rap more for his aggressive behavior than for his information. Recent revelations indicate that he was correct in many of his assumptions.
It is interesting to note that, in addition to "The Crucible," Miller elected to make a stage adaptation of Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People" which deals with the same theme of an individual standing up for the "right" in the face of government and societal pressure. The play argues for the supremacy of the individual conscience, and its creation in 1950 suggests it's relationship to the themes of "The Crucible."