The Crucible: Society Versus The Individual Essay

The Crucible Society Versus The Individual Essay

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Arthur Miller's The Crucible focuses on the fearful relationship between society and the individual ("Readings on Arthur Miller" 145). Individual: being a witch in the seventeenth century or being a Communist in the 1950's. Miller states: The Crucible is involved essentially with the social relations of human beings, and consequently, the predominant emphasis in writing the play was on the conflict ("Readings on Arthur Miller" 145). Although, both situations coincide with inquisition and mass hysteria, they conflict at the fact that Communism among Americans existed in the 1950's, while witchcraft among seventeenth century Salem townspeople failed to be an actuality. In both time periods interrogation was present. As in 1692, the inquisition of witches and wizards had its controversies, so did the oppression on Communist party members in the 1950's ("Un- American Activities, House Committee on" Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia, "Witchcraft" Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia). Twenty people were hanged for not confessing to such heresies. Similarly, large numbers of Americans lost their jobs and materials or were imprisoned if failed to be a true American. What is shown in both eras was the existence of what we can call unsubstantiated evidence and suffering of being accused. Interrogations and hearings such as these stirred up suspicion and fear, causing mass hysteria. Both eras suffered from this. Those accused of witchcraft and wizardry saved themselves by confessing and then by accusing others. To be arraigned, all you need is some insignificant amount of proof by a townsperson or accused witch, many of which accusations were only revenge of past incidents, or to appease the court. Likewise, this happened during the McCarthy Era. Knowing the wrong person affected your standing possibilities of whether you would be arraigned or not. Therefore, everyone feared each other, if you were or were not a suspect. Pointing fingers was the only way to show your sincerity to the protection of the country. Mass hysteria was a result of these hearings because of the suspicion and fear it stirred. The Red Scare and the Salem witch trials were definitely alike in some ways, still, the parallel fails at one important point: Communism existed ;witchcraft did not ("Readings on Arthur Miller" 145). At the time of the Salem witch trials, the psychological states ("Readings on Arthur Miller" 145) of the victims were different than those during the Red Scare. Miller states: ...the individual is seen through society ("Just Looking for a Home" online). He is referring to the McCarthy Era. Those blacklisted were connected with the Communist Party, and they were guilty of that. Yet, others had no connection at all. So, Communism was real and society looked down on the existing Communists. But, Miller also states: ...society is seen through the individual ("Just Looking for a Home" online). Here, he refers to the psychological state of the victims of the Salem witch trials. All the accused were not witches, but were forced to believe that they were the "bad" of society. Although, this is not so among the McCarthy Era, because they knew whether or not they were Capitalist or Communist. An example of forced belief comes from Tituba's confession. To compensate, you had to confess. In other words, the victim in Salem believed he was "bad" and saw society as "good." Communism existed in the McCarthy Era, but witchcraft only existed among the Salem townspeople because they were forced to believe that it existed among themselves. Arthur Miller was able to reflect the same dilemmas that existed on both time periods. However, they differ in the actual existence of the "bad" individuals. Many innocent lives and worklives were claimed as a result of these trials, yet, Arthur Miller was able to expound this through his works.

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