The Crucible

After doing my research on the Hollywood Blacklist, I found out that Arthur Miller was one of the many professionals in the film industry that was blacklisted.  This inspired him to write The Crucible.  After being blacklisted, he traveled to Salem, Massachusetts to research the witch trials.  From there, he compared the Salem Witch Trials of the 1600s to the HUAC Trial’s of the 1940’s and 1950’s.  I’ve noticed in the book that witnesses on trial are first accused of being witches and are then asked to identify other witches.  In the Blacklisting Trials, people were first asked if they were a Communist and then asked to identify other Communists.  In the book, everybody is pointing fingers at everybody; which is how many people in Hollywood lost friends, co-workers, and even spouses.  Many of these trials become famous works of literature.  One of my favorite plays, Inherit the Wind is also eerily similar.  It is based on the true story of the Scopes Monkey Trials; about overly religious people in Tennessee persecuting a teacher for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution in the 1930s.  Much like witchcraft in The Crucible, evolution in Inherit the Wind is dismissed as devil’s work because it does not follow traditional Christian beliefs.  Anybody else think that the Crucible compares with any other prominent events in time?

Erika Koerner


5 thoughts on “The Crucible

  1. As an easy answer, relating my post to yours and what we talked about in class today, blaming others for your problems has happened over and over throughout history, and there is usually religious persecution behind it. Because this has happened over and over, I believe this is why people aren’t as religious as they used to be. Religion is used to hold people down, suppress them, and fill their heads with stories about how they will have a better after life. Does this happen? Who can really know? While being trustworthy and loyal are traits many people claim to have, they are also quick to lose them. Most people want to be on the winning side, and as a self preservation technique they blame others to exonerate themselves.
    -Savanna Beach

  2. The entire time I was reading The Crucible, I couldn’t help but think about conspiracy theorists. These are not specific to any prominent events, but rather surround all of them (example, the 9/11 Truthers who believe it was an inside job). It’s not really the pointing of fingers that reminds me of this but the fact that once the townspeople (or those on the outside of the whole McCarthyism) thought that someone was guilty of witchcraft, there was no way to sway them any other way. Anything the person said or did to try to prove otherwise could be countered with “It’s the work of the Devil.” Anything that Abigail and the other girls involved did was regarded as truth and anything that disproved it was just the work of the devil. Those who were blacklisted and accused of being communists during McCarthyism were treated similarly. This reminds me of conspiracy theorists because there is literally nothing you can do to change their mind. Any evidence against the theory can be countered with “That’s what they want you to think.” This was all I could think about while reading. There’s no reasoning with some people and it happens all the time. We haven’t changed much…

  3. that was actually a method of interrogation for a very long time. in order to obtain more lenient sentencing (or to stop the abuse and just go ahead and be put to death) people would have to offer up others. It didn’t matter if it was true or not (as in the case of the Salem witch trials), only that the accused was the right person. Research on the Salem Witch Trials indicates that it may have been used by a certain faction within the town to eliminate members of the opposing faction. The Inquisition which was going on in Europe near this time period used the exact same tactics, as did Nazi interrogators and Soviet Russia during the Great Purge of the 1930s.


  4. The event that stands out the most to me is the Spanish Inquisition, arguably the single greatest example of religious persecution in human history. Only the Holocaust can compare to the Inquisition in terms of bloodshed, but the Inquisition was in place for over 300 years. The Inquisition targeted heretics in Spain and sought to eradicate them. What started as a religious purge quickly evolved into the Spanish-version of the Reign of Terror, where neighbors began turning eachother into authorities to save themselves. Like the trials in Salem, the only salvation during the Inquisition came from implicating others. All the examples mentioned here, even the most recent examples with 9/11 conspiracy theorists, display perfectly what happens when fear begins to trump reason. It is scary to think that, even with all these examples for us to study and with years worth of perspective as to the dangers of religious extremism and extreme nationalism, history continues to repeat itself. Like Shelby said, we haven’t changed much.


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