A person once said, “Literature opens a dark window on the soul, revealing more about what is bad in human nature then what is good.” In other words, authors unlock an evil portal on the spirit and display more about what is regretful in the human race then what is good. This true is because the writer is free to opinionate and write about their intimate emotions that for the most part are unpleasant. John Steinbeck, author of Mice and Men, said, “It is the responsibility of the writer to expose our many grievous fault and failures and to hold up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams, for the purpose of improvement.” What he means is that it is the author’s mission to reveal our severe mistakes so that eventually we will learn not to make that same errors. I agree with both quotes. In Author Miller’s tragedy, The Crucible, and J. Ronald Oakley’s historical essay, “The Great Fear,” reveals on how fear can intersect and tear everyone apart.
The theme in The Crucible is that hysteria can tear apart a small village. Hysteria replaces logic and allows people to believe that their neighbors are committing ridiculous and unbelievable crimes like communing with the devil and killing babies. In the play, the townsfolk accept and become active in the hysterical atmosphere not only out of genuine religious piety but also because it gives them a chance to express repressed sentiments and to act on long-held grudges. Throughout the madness, Abigail’s motivations were jealousy and a desire to have revenge on Elizabeth Proctor. Abigail takes advantage of the situation and uses it to accuse Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft and have her sent to jail.
There is little symbolism within The Crucible, but the play can be seen as symbolic of the paranoia about communism that spread through America in the 1950s. In Oakley’s essay, “The Great Fear,” many Americans feared that Communist spies had infiltrated the country. As with the alleged witches of Salem, suspected Communists were encouraged to confess and to identify other Red sympathizers as means of escaping punishment. However, instead of the dozens of people hurt by the witch trials, thousands of people had their lives ruined during the “Red” scare.
Senator Joseph McCarthy exploited the fears of those who believed that the Communist threat was a serious issue and that the country had to take protective measures. McCarthy began a proceeding to track down Communism in the U.S. He figured the way to do this was to call into question the people he thought seemed to be potential Communists and take them to court. He called in movie stars and writers, basically any famous person in the liberal arts at the time and questioned them. McCarthy said in his speech, “I have in my hand a list of 205 cases of individuals who appear to be either card-carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party.” McCarthy went on to argue that some of these people were passing secret information to the Soviet Union. This witch-hunt and anti-communist hysteria became known as McCarthyism.
Joseph McCarthy was a sleazy intimidator. Even though he was bringing to the attention of America the eminent threat of Communism, he aimlessly attacked innocent people. He ruined the careers of hundreds of innocent men and women on the flimsiest evidence to advance his own. He was a cold-hearted man who was a disgrace to the United States. His anti-Communist “dedication” was not based upon ideology but for his need for a headline-gaining cause. Yet for all of the suffering he directly caused throughout his entire career, he ironically never once was able to directly convict a single suspected Communist of a crime.
In conclusion, “Literature opens a dark window on the soul, revealing more about what is bad in human nature then what is good.” In Author Miller’s tragedy, The Crucible, and in J. Ronald Oakley’s historical essay, “The Great Fear,” reveal on how hysteria can intersect and tear everyone apart. In The Crucible, Abigail gets her revenge by accusing people she dislikes of witchcraft. In “The Great Fear,” McCarthy aimlessly attacked innocent people and ruined their careers. All this shows that “It is the responsibility of the writer to expose our many grievous fault and failures and to hold up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams, for the purpose of improvement.”