In the United States after World War II, communism in America became vilified and defined as evil. Up to this point, communism was seen as a valid, liberal alternative political philosophy to pure capitalism. At this time, trials were held in Washington, D.C., to "root out" communism from United States soil.
These trials came to be associated with their chief advocate, Senator McCarthy.
The Crucible is seen by many as more of a commentary on "McCarthyism'' than the actual Salem trials.
Many figures from the entertainment industry, including Arthur Miller, came under suspicion during McCarthy's anti-communist campaign. Paranoia and political motivations helped to spur on the anti-communist trials, against the protests of those less fervent, less fearful, and more conservative in their estimation of communism's threat to America.
Pressure from authorities to conform to newly rigid standards of political behavior under threat of ostracism or worse can clearly be seen in Miller's play.
In the town's hysteria at the beginning of the play lies a parallel to the frenzy that communist "witch-hunting" caused in America in the 1950s.
The play functions as an allegory of sorts for the McCarthy trials of the 1950s and in this way can be directly related to Miller's own experiences. The play, however, also speaks to the larger ideas of individual moral responsibility and serves to condemn mob behavior, despite official sanction or vested authority.
Arthur Miller was actually questioned by the House of Representatives in 1956 and was convicted of refusing to to identify others present during his meetings. This relates to The Crucible because the characters refused to reveal what happened and who was responsible.