Theme of Red Scare in "The Crucible"

Topics: The Crucible

In every literary work, there are themes. A theme is a central insight into human nature provided by a piece of literature. Everyone interprets the theme differently, but that’s the uniqueness of themes. One great literary work is The Crucible, a play written by Arthur Miller. Miller paints his story using the small tightly knit community of Salem, brilliantly weaving historical fact and fiction to portray a scenario not unlike events since seen. The infamous witch hunts of 1692 and wild accusations of a subversive culture that threatened to tear away at the fabric of society are at the center of this play.

Arthur Miller shows this in his book. The society of Salem that Miller creates in The Crucible shows how fear can slowly cause rational thought to deteriorate, leading to mass hysteria and eventually the breakdown of civilized behavior.

To begin with, The Crucible is a dramatized story of the Salem Witch Trials, that had taken place in Massachusetts Bay Colony during 1692.

Miller wrote this story as an allegory to the McCarthy Trials, when the government persecuted people that were accused of being communists. During both of these events, people were driven by fear; their actions were controlled by fear. “There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships. I have seen too many frightful proofs in court – the Devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger points!” says Hale fearfully.

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(Miller p. ) The hysteria and fear of the devil in Salem has blinded Hale to any other possible reasons that the witchcraft accusations might be being made. The fear of the devil being alive in Salem is diverting many people’s brain that witchcraft and the accusations are taking place because of the devil. On the other hand, during the Red Scare the United States feared the communists. In an article related to the Red Scare and McCarthy Trials stated “the ‘Reds’ were seen as a threat to the democracy of the United States. Fear, paranoia, and hysteria gripped the nation, and many innocent people were questioned and then jailed for expressing any view which was seen as anti-Democratic or anti-American” (Historical Context). Hundreds of people were being tortured for something they didn’t take part in or believe simply because the community feared the “Reds”. The hysteria of communists led to the creation of organizations such as the The House Un-American Activities Committee that specifically focused on hunting down people they thought were communists. Rather than thinking and analyzing what was going on, everyone in the community just let fear control them. In both of these tragic events, an extensive amount of faultless people suffered and some were even killed simply because of fear and hysteria.

Furthermore, we can see fear and hysteria impacting our society today in various ways. Most recent events that have consistently been causing fear and hysteria in our community are the massive school shootings. In an article written by Kate Stringer they interview a high school teenager who had survived a school shooting. In the interview they asked her if she ever thought that a school shooting would take place at her school and she replied saying “It’s been happening everywhere,” she said. “I always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too” (Stringer, 2018). Since so many school shootings have been taking place recently people always have the fear of it happening at there school or in there community. Just like in The Crucible people fear the devil, today kids in school fear their own classmates. This hysteria in our community has broken down the meaning of school; schools are meant to be safe, no one should be afraid to go to school. Similarly, during the Red Scare people feared the communists, and in our society today, we fear gun owners. Many kids nowadays often don’t go to school because of the fear of an active shooter. Many people are questioning school safety on a daily basis just like during the Red Scare, people were being questioned if they were communists or not. “Tricia Miller has been counting down the days until the end of her daughter’s school year in June. Like many parents, she’s worried about her child’s safety in the wake of recent school shootings,” (Sarsour, 2018). Schools once used to be a safe place for kids, parents used to trust schools, and go to work without continuously thinking about if there children are safe at school or not. Now parents send their kids to school because they are force to by the law.They just wait for the school year to be over. Fear of gun violence in general has changed our society massively;, there’s no such thing as a safe place nowadays,; while during the Red Scare, fear of the “Reds” changed everyday life. Fear and hysteria have always been controlling our actions, the way we behave, and diverting our society as a whole.

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Theme of Red Scare in "The Crucible". (2022, May 15). Retrieved from

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