The Real Meaning of The Crucible In The Crucible, Arthur Miller comments on the absurdity of historical events or organizations such as the HUAC, McCarthyism, and the Red Scare by the accusations and reactions of the characters in the book. The HUAC (House Committee on Un-American Activities) was a committee started in 1934 to keep an eye on behavior that they thought to be subversive. The committee was created to keep and eye on all types of subversive behavior, but had a tendency to focus on people they thought were socialists or communists.
The members of this committee had an abundance of power. They could accuse someone of subversive behavior or actions and could ask for a testimony. If the accused refused the testimony they would be blacklisted(Simkin). In The Crucible, Miller portrays Thomas Danforth and John Hathorne, judges in The Crucible, as the HUAC of the book. The townspeople of Salem are continuously accusing other people in the town of practicing witchcraft. Then the accused people are forced to testify. If the accused person admits to practicing witchcraft then they are not killed.
If the accused person denies that he or she is a witch, they are killed(Miller). Miller is symbolizing the judges in the book to the HUAC. He is commenting on the irony of the HUAC and the judges in the Salem Witch Trials. Miller is showing that that the bias behavior of the HUAC to communists or socialists and the ironic punishment of the accused townspeople from the Salem Witch Trials in The Crucible are alike. McCarthyism is a practice named after a United States Senator named Joseph McCarthy who also was a member of the HUAC.
McCarthyism is used when a person is accused of subversion or any other action that would harm the country or government without any proof. The act of McCarthyism refers mostly to the accusations of many innocent people being a communist or socialist. In The Crucible, several townspeople are tried for being witches and practicing witchcraft with no proof or evidence that they are doing so(“McCarthyism”). In the book, characters like John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, Giles Corey, and Sarah Good are innocent people whose lives have been turned upside down by these absurd accusations.
John Proctor is asked to plea guilty even though he is not. In The Crucible, John Proctor says, “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! ” The judges and the townspeople have no evidence that these accused have been practicing witchcraft(Miller). Miller shows how absurd McCarthyism is by showing how innocent people in The Crucible are accused of being witches with no evidence.
The Red Scare was a time period from 1917- 1920 in which people in the United States were afraid of communism. The people in the United States thought that communists would disrupt the country’s capitalist government. The government was doing all they could to get the citizens to fear the thought of communism. Even in the newspapers, writers were encouraging xenophobia to get the people in America to be against communism(Red Scare”). In The Crucible, Abigail Williams pretends to see spirits and claims that many of the innocent people are witches.
In the book, Abigail says, “A woman comes to my bed every night now and tears out my eyes. I believe she be Reverend John Hale’s wife sir. ” Abigail Williams also has a group of girls who accompany her at trial. They always go along with what she is pretending to see and makes all of the other townspeople terrified of witchcraft and the people accused of doing it(Miller). Miller portrays the Red Scare as foolish and a lie. He shows that Abigail and her friends’ pretending are the same as the writers in the newspapers or other people in the government during the Red Scare.
In conclusion, Miller comments on the absurdity of historical events or organizations such as HUAC, McCarthyism, and the Red Scare through the accusations and reactions of the characters in The Crucible. Works Cited Simkin, John. “Un-American Activities Committee. ” Spartacus Educational. 12 April 2010. . Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin, 1987. Simkin, John. “McCarthyism. ” Spartacus Eductional. 12 April 2010. . Simkin, John. “Red Scare. ” Spartacus Educational. 12 April 2010. .