In my coursework I will be discussing how successful the crucible is as an allegory. An allegory is defined as a story, poem, character in a story, or picture with a hidden connotation. The Crucible is a story set in Salem in the 1692 witch hunts. The play is based on the fear, suspicion, hysteria and paranoia which the people of Salem felt during the witch hunts. This is almost identical to what happened in America in the 1950s. Communism was at its all time peak and America was scared of Communism taking over their country, as it already had in Russia.
The Americans panicked and they went fanatical with Hysteria. Everyone was accusing everyone. Almost everyone who was accused of being a communist was sentenced with a heavy punishment, usually a life sentence. No one felt safe; people were being accused for no good reason. This outbreak in paranoia is much like McCarthyism. McCarthyism was the situation in America during the 1950s.
This could be why The Crucible is such an effective play. Salem was a very small religious town. It feared the unknown and anything that they found hard to explain.
The community was very small and enclosed, scared of the world which was beyond theirs. This may be why the outbreak of paranoia occurred. Everyone seemed to know each other too well because in their society no-one seemed to mind their own business: The Salem folk believed that the virgin forest was the Devil’s last preserve, his home base and the citadel of his final stand.
This shows how Salem was enclosed by the woods and therefore alone. The woods represent the fear surrounding Salem and it helps to show the danger from a different perspective.
The most obvious allegory in the play is the link between 1950s America and McCarthyism. There are close similarities between Communism and witchcraft, in particularly how society was corrupted because of them. !692 in Salem and America during the 1950s are so alike in many ways. Miller based The Crucible directly on the situation in America. Both accusations of Communism and witch – craft tore apart the communities which they broke lose in. This is because they are the unexplained and you cannot prove that someone is a really a Communist or a witch.
The reason people believed in witch craft was because there was so much which was still unexplained around the year 1692. They could not think up answers for things which were happening so they blamed everything on witchcraft. When Betty became sick, people started to talk and wander what was wrong with her. Suspicion over came Salem. When no one could explain what it was that was wrong with her, they realised that people holding a grudge could seek revenge by accusing others of being possessed or of being a witch.
There were so many innocent people accused of practising witchcraft that it seemed the only way to get away with the accusation was to own up to being a witch, even though they weren’t. Sometimes the accusations went far. On page 47 of the crucible Reverend Hale and Parris begin to whip Tituba until she would own up to making contact with the devil, even though they have no solid evidence. This shows just how far they went through hysteria and suspicion of people practising witchcraft.
A running theme throughout the play is people accusing each other and following others who establish themselves as a group leader, who to control the others. At the end of act one on pages 49 -50 you can see the link between McCarthyism and the Salem witch hunts. Here you can see how everyone is accusing everyone of being a witch. This is similar to the situation in America during the fear of the outbreak of Communism. Abigail: I saw Goody Hawkins with the Devil! Betty: I saw Goody Bibber with the Devil! Abigail: I saw Goody Booth with the Devil!
The way that Abigail and Betty speak here makes the scene seem very dark and it really reflects what was happening in America during the outbreak of McCarthyism. People were accusing everyone and hysteria has broken lose. The way that the same phrase is repeated and said by different people a number of times is effective and helps to show that Salem is not the same and paranoia is setting in. Abigail is also shown as the leader of the girls and they all do as she tells them to. This is one of the first times this is clearly shown in the play.
Miller uses many writing techniques in the play. He uses effective ways of showing hysteria and paranoia and the way he links McCarthyism is very well done. Miller introduces many characters into his stories, this makes it easier for him to show the effects of McCarthyism, it is easier for him to show how literally every one is accused at some point. During the play almost every character is accused and when you are accused it is hard to clear your name: Danforth: Mary Warren, how came you to this turnabout? Has Mr Proctor threatened you for this deposition?