The Crucible was written in 1953, around the same time as a heavy fear of communism arose during the Cold War. Arthur Miller wrote of the horrors that took place in the somewhat fictional and dramatic play, about the witchcraft and trials in Salem, Massachusetts. He wrote it set in the time period between 1692 and 1693, when the horrific witch trials were held executing some 20 people and accusing 200.
Miller compared the unfair, merciless events of that time period to the trials of his present day- the Red Scare and McCarthyism during the 1950’s. McCarthyism evolved from the ideals of Joseph McCarthy and his desperate attempts at rising in power as an American politician. McCarthy helped encourage the anti-communist ideology during World War II and was responsible for many innocent peoples’ lives/ sentences.
Miller showed the unfair trials that innocent people faced, and how in the end it didn’t matter if a person was innocent, if they were accused, they would face jail time or death.
The play in reflecting these ideas of trials in the Cold War, also can relate to many situations in our world today. Racial discrimination has always been a problem in American history, and although vastly different from how it used to be, we still see time and time again the injustice people face because of their race in America.
As of late, tension seems to be growing more and in cases like that of Martese Johnson from this past October, we can correlate injustice in racial discrimination to injustice in The Crucible. The unfair court cases, and abuse from governmental authority just based on race is a prevalent concern in now, and in the United States discrimination against African Americans for example is still an apparent issue. In looking into the case of Martese Johnson and his abuse from policemen when he was innocent of all claimed charges, we see the same unfair treatment that people still face, and are left with the question of how to fix it.
Arthur Miller shows the problems of the 1950’s injustice in McCarthyism with his interpretation in The Crucible, and we are put in a world facing similar issues. Now the question is what do we do about it?
We can’t change what has happened in the past, but we can be apart of changing what happens in the future- so challenge yourself to think on what we as the next generation can do to change our world for the better and how to end these injustices.
To read more on the case of Martese Johnson there is a good article below 🙂