Many literary works have been produced that symbolize other periods of time or certain events that have occurred throughout history. One example is the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller. There is little symbolism within The Crucible, however, the play can be seen as symbolic of the paranoia about Communism that pervaded American in the 1950s. Several similarities exist between Millers depiction of the seventeenth-century witch trials and the time of the Red Scare. The House of the Un-American Activities Committees rooting of suspected communisms during the Red Scare and the courts actions in The Crucible are very similar.Both were narrow-minded, displayed excessive enthusiasm and disregard for the individuals that characterized the governments effort to stamp out a perceived social illness.
During the setting of the Red Scare and The Crucible, paranoia was evident and many bad things occurred as a result of its presence. At the time of the Red Scare, many were afraid that communists were trying to take over America. This led the government to make the House of the Un-American Activities Committee, which would seek out communists and stop them from making any attempts of taking over the country. If the committee found anyone guilty of being a communist then they were jailed, or even killed like Ethel and Julius Rosenburg. The paranoia created caused the committee to put hundreds of people on trial that never practice communism at all. The paranoia in The Crucible also led to many terrible events to occur. After Betty and Ruth are struck sick and tired, many conclude that it is due to witchcraft. The notion of witchcraft being present in Salem causes paranoia and people become frightened. Searches are sent out to find these alleged witches and dispose them. The paranoia causes many people to be brought before the court in order for Salem to rid it of these evil witches. If they were found guilty, they were also jailed or killed. In both cases, the paranoia caused many innocent lives to be ruined or lost.
The House of the Un-American Activities Committee and Judge Danforth prosecuted and ruined many innocent lives. The paranoia that was present during the Red Scare caused the House of the Un-American Activities Committee to put hundreds of suspected communists on trial. Over 320 people were jailed or blacklisted due to the rulings of the House of the Un-American Committee. Many of those people were innocent, but the House of the American Committee refused to listen to whatever pleas they made in order to prove their innocence. This is the same for the numerous citizens that were put on trial during the seventeenth century witch hunts in Millers play. Many of the citizens Judge Danforth put on trial were prosecuted because they were suspected of practicing witchcraft. Many of which were innocent as well, like Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey. Even though they were innocent they were found guilty. Judge Danforth also did not bother to change his rulings whenever the defendants showed good evidence of their innocence, like when Giles Corey and Francis Nurse brought a signed petition that stated that there their wives were not witches but were good people. Many lives in Salem were ruined as well due to these witch trials.Many were hanged or imprisoned due to the court rulings of Judge Danforth. Very little could be done to save ones life.
The House of the Un-American Committee and the authority in Salem both encouraged their defendants to name names, identifying others sympathetic to their radical cause. The House of the Un-American Activities Committee offered to salvage the lives of people if they would name others whom they knew were guilty of practicing communism. The type of thing appears in The Crucible as well. If the people would confess who they knew practiced witchcraft they might receive a pardon. This is shown when Abigail names Tituba in order to save herself. In both cases, many of the people would say the names of the innocent in order to save themselves. The House of the Un-American Committee and the court of Salem would be very appreciated of this, but it was also created more chaos and make matters worse.
The paranoia and chaos that surfaced during the time of the Red Scare in the 1950s is also present during the time of the seventeenth century witch trials depicted in The Crucible. The House of the Un-American Activities Committee and the court in Salem are a lot a like. They both tried and ruined the lives of the innocent. They also encouraged defendants to name the names of others in order to salvage their own life, which brought about more chaos and worsened the matter.