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The Salem witch trials, the McCarthyism trials, and the treatment of Japanese-Americans’ during WWII share a common theme, which is that the combination of fear and betrayal played a major part of the vast destruction that occurred in the communities. The betrayal in The Crucible caused a great deal of fear to the people living there. Most accusers only accused because they wanted something, whether that was land, money, or if it was just for revenge on that person. During the McCarthyism trials, nobody died, so there wasn’t fear of their lives, they just feared communism, which again, betrayal had caused.
While WWII was going on, the Japanese-Americans had been betrayed by their fellow American citizens just because they were of Japanese descent. It didn’t matter if they were Isseis(immigrants) or Niseis(born in America), they were not considered citizens, this caused fear for their safety and the safety of their families. Fear and betrayal are felt by everyone, no matter who it is, and the victims of these events experienced it all.
The Crucible was a dangerous event that took the lives of some and ruined the reputations of many. Act II of The Crucible is when Abigail Williams began to accuse random people in order for her not to be accused. In the beginning of the play, Abigail, along with some other girls were dancing in the woods around a fire. This was looked at as witchcraft, but the girls acted innocent so that they wouldn’t get in trouble.
In Act II, line 53, Elizabeth Proctor says “Abigail brings the other girls into the court, and where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel.” This is a biblical allusion, essentially saying that, as Abigail and the others walk, the rest of the town scatters in fear of being accused. The events of the Salem Witch Trials were similar to McCarthyism in the case of false accusations causing fear in others.
Different from The Crucible, the incriminations of people were because of the fear of communism. Individuals betrayed others to save themselves, similar to The Crucible, but instead of false accusations of witchcraft, they were false accusations of communism. Reasoning: They accused because they were afraid of Russian spies, espionage and because of this, jobs were lost, people were blacklisted from society, they got jail fines if they refused to cooperate, etc. Reasons for the betrayal were to gain money, land, and even get revenge. Although it started out with a small group of people, it did more damage than good. Betrayal isn’t always due to wanting to gain wealth or for revenge, it can also be the betrayal of one and their country.
Along the lines of a country betraying its citizens and causing fear in them, it happened to a young girl and her family during WWI. “With Papa back our cubicle was filled to overflowing Woody brought in another army bunk and tick mattress…” (J.W.Houston and J.Houston 1). Americans forced citizens of Japanese descent into crammed and filthy concentration camps. “They kept using the word ‘inu.’…They have to do with bad manners, or worse, breaches of faith and loyalty” (J.W.Houston and J.Houston 4,5). Even fellow prisoners turned on each other and spoke behind their backs, nobody was to be trusted. These aren’t the only people who experienced this type of fear and betrayal though.
George Takei and his family had some trouble adjusting to the situation, especially because they were American citizens and were just excluded for their nationality. “It became routine for me to line up three times a day to eat lousy food in a noisy mess hall. It became normal for me to go with my father to bathe in a mass shower. Being in a prison, a barbed-wire prison camp, became my normality” (Takei 6). They weren’t even treated like human beings, they were treated like prisoners, animals even, These people were not given the privileges Non-Japanese citizens had. Evidence: “When Pearl Harbor was bombed, young Japanese-Americans, like all young Americans, rushed to their draft board to volunteer to fight for our country. That act of patriotism was answered with a slap in the face. We were denied service, and categorized as enemy non-alien. It was outrageous to be called an enemy when you’re volunteering to fight for your country…” (Takei 9). They were once Americans too, it was their country and they wanted to help, to fight for it, but they were looked at as the enemies. Not everyone was crumbled down to their core, some were able to rise up, even after all of the betrayal they felt.
Some people were able to become better and rise against all their enemies and some even lived a somewhat normal life. “It is a patriotic song that can be read as a proverb, as a personal credo for endurance” (J.W.Houston and J.Houston 40). Their national anthem gave them the ability to keep going, it brought them emotions they rarely felt in the concentration camps. “About four o’clock I was playing hopscotch in the firebreak with three other girls” (J.W.Houston and J.Houston 31). Even under the circumstances, a few were able to live a partially regular life. But that was only a small percentage, the majority still suffered.
Fear and betrayal aren’t things people want in their lives, they don’t ask for it, it just happens. “Day after day he would sip his rice wine or his apricot brandy, sip till he was blind drunk and passed out” (J.W.Houston and J. Houston 2). The unfair treatment of the prisoners in the camps made them bitter and angry at the Americans who betrayed them. Betrayal is felt by everyone, and sometimes it can cause fear.
The Salem witch trials, the McCarthyism trials, and the treatment of Japanese-Americans’ during WWII shared an issue, which was that the combination of fear and betrayal played a major part of the harm that occurred in their communities. In the case of The Crucible, many people used accusations to gain wealth and power which also damaged some reputations. Much like in The Crucible, McCarthyism was used for personal reasons, it just didn’t go as far as hanging people. Farewell to Manzanar showed the dark side of the Japanese-Americans living in the concentration camps. Finally, with George Takei’s interview, he spoke about his experience in the camps and how badly they were treated, even after they were betrayed by their own country. Fear and betrayal are strong emotions alone, but together, they can cause harm beyond compare.
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