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Witch Hunts Essay

2100 words - 9 pages

Witch HuntsThroughout history there have been many instances where a group of people have been singled out for discrimination. The Salem Witch Trials, The Holocaust, and McCarthy's witch-hunt are just a few examples of such prejudice. Arthur Miller's The Crucible used the story of the Salem Witch Trials to point out the injustices of the anti-Communism movement of the early 1950s.Joseph McCarthy was born in 1908 in Northern Wisconsin. He worked his way through law school and shortly after graduation became one of Wisconsin's youngest judges. During World War II he volunteered for the Marine Corps. This was an act that he knew would help him out politically. While overseas, he made his first ...view middle of the document...

McCarthy also began accusing members of the Army. It was this, and many other factors, that caused President Eisenhower, and other Americans, to see the true McCarthy. Shortly thereafter, a Senator from Vermont presented a proposal that the Senate censure McCarthy. McCarthy was charged with mistreating government officials, illegally gaining access to classified materials, and personally attacking his Senate colleagues. On December 2, 1954, he was censured. This had no real penalty, but it destroyed his power and spirit. McCarthy began to drink excessively and died in 1957 (Scriabine 3-4).Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953. This play uses the Salem Witch Trials to attack the anti-Communist "witch-hunt". The frenzy surrounding the witchcraft trials in Salem paralleled the hysteria surrounding communism in the 1950's. Arthur Miller himself faced persecution for writing The Crucible. After the play was published he was investigated for possible associations with the Communist party. In 1956 he was summoned to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He was found guilty of contempt of Congress for his refusal to give information on his colleagues, but the sentence was later overturned (Carroll 1230).The Crucible tells the story of 17th century Salem, Massachusetts. A group of girls were caught dancing in the woods, and in the Puritan society, dancing was forbidden. The day after they were discovered, some of the girls begin acting strangely. Witchcraft was quickly assumed to be the cause of the girls' bizarre behavior, especially after it was learned that they girls were experimenting with fortune telling and incantations. People began to be accused of witchcraft and associating with the devil. No member of the community was safe. The girls accused people whom they could profit from or who they would like to see suffer. If an accused individual admitted to being involved with witchcraft, then they were spared their life (Carroll).One thing that The Crucible and McCarthy's witch hunt had in common was the blatant lack of evidence. In the play, there was no concrete proof that any of the accused persons trafficked with the devil or practiced witchcraft. It was only the words of Abigail and her friends that condemned the persons who were indicted. Judge Danforth and many members of the community considered everything that came out of the girls' mouths to be completely factual. No one stopped to think about the absurdity of the situation. An instance of this can be seen in the sentence, "Mary Warren, do you witch her? I say to you, do you send your spirit out?" (Carroll 1306) Judge Danforth says this after Abby puts on a charade and claims that Mary Warren sent out a cold wind.Senator McCarthy also lacked evidence. He made his famous speech in Wheeling, West Virginia in February of 1950. McCarthy claimed to have in his hand a list of 205 names of people who were Communists. These people were politicians, actors, and other...

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