Witch-Hunt How do you define “witch-hunt”? Examples of a “witch-hunt”?
The Crucible A play / drama Written by Arthur Miller Published in 1953 Set in 1692 in the Plymouth Bay Colony, during the “Salem Witch Trials” However, it’s an allegory for a “modern day witch hunt”
What does “crucible” mean? A severe and exhausting test A place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development A vessel of a very refractory material (as porcelain) used for melting a substance that requires a high degree of heat
The Salem Witch Trials Like all Puritans, the residents of Salem Village believed in witches Witchcraft: “entering into a compact with the devil in exchange for certain evil powers” Witchcraft is a sin and a crime; it was a serious accusation that was thoroughly investigated
Salem Witch Trials Early 1692: witchcraft hysteria hits Salem Why? Isolated lives of the Puritans Starvation, disease, fears of the frontier, and severe weather = it must have been the work of the Devil!
How It Began The daughter and niece of Rev. Samuel Parris began having fits of convulsions, hallucinations, and screaming Upon a doctor’s examination, he concluded that witchcraft could be the only conclusion (as per a recently published book about witchcraft) Girls accused Tituba, Rev. Parris’ slave, along with Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn, sparking a massive “witch hunt”
The Result Over eight months, 150 people were imprisoned for witchcraft 27 convictions 19 hanged 1 pressed to death
But really... Why? Politics: it was an opportunity for some people to “settle” land disputes Spoiled food: ergot Disease: enchephalitis, Lyme disease As mentioned earlier... Fear, isolation, etc.
“Witch-Hunt” The events that unfolded in Salem lead to the modern day term, witch-hunt Witch-hunt: an intensive effort to discover and expose disloyalty, subversion, dishonesty, or the like, usually based on slight, doubtful, or irrelevant evidence. (dictionary.com) actually used to harass and undermine those with differing views Which brings us to...
McCarthyism Senator Joe McCarthy (R), Wisconsin, 1947-1957 Notorious figure of the Cold War Gained power by manipulating America’s fear of Communism Accused several prominent figures of subversion and communism
HUAC House Un-American Activities Committee Beginning in the late 1940’s, it called witnesses and investigated the entertainment industry for possible subversive behavior Several directors and screenwriters refused to cooperate and were imprisoned “blacklisted”: entertainment industry refused to hire artists and writers suspected of being Communists
Joseph McCarthy Claimed that communists had infiltrated the Department of State Over 300 people in the film industry were “blacklisted” 1954: career collapses when the Senate censured him for false accusations and abusing his colleagues However, “McCarthyism” continued in many areas of American society
Arthur Miller 1915-2005 American playwright and screenwriter Married to Marilyn Monroe for 5 years (1956-1961) Wrote several famous plays including Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, and All My Sons
Arthur Miller Published The Crucible in 1953 The Crucible was an allegory for McCarthyism Allegory: figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another; a symbolic or metaphorical narrative In other words, The Crucible was an allegory because it was really about McCarthyism
Miller’s Beliefs Miller felt that the hysteria surrounding the witch trials in Salem paralleled the climate of McCarthyism He used The Crucible to attack Senator McCarthy After publication of The Crucible, Miller was investigated by the HUAC for possible associations with the Communist Party Miller admitted to attending meetings, but refused to give up names of colleagues. He was found guilty of contempt, but his sentence was overturned
Summary Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible as an allegory Salem Witch Trials paralleled McCarthyism The play deals with a climate of mass hysteria