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McCarthyism: History in Literature

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1 McCarthyism: History in Literature
Arthur Miller’s Reasons for Writing The Crucible

Allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a Piece of literature, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the literature itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance. In other words, an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.

3 RED SCARE Shortly after the end of World War I, a “Red Scare” took hold of the nation. Named after the red flag of the USSR. (Now Russia), 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.

4 What is McCarthyism? a movement leaders such as Senator
Joseph McCarthy started in the late 1940s-1950s; also known as “The Second Red Scare”

5 MCCARTHYISM McCarthyism is the term used to describe a period of intense suspicion in the United States during the early 1950s. It began when Senator Joseph McCarthy, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, claimed that communists had infiltrated the Department of State. A special House Committee on Un-American Activities was formed to investigate allegations of communism. During this period, people from all walks of life became the subjects of aggressive “witch hunts” often based on inconclusive, questionable evidence.

6 MCCARTHYISM Persons accused of being communists
were often denied employment in both the public and private sector. In the film industry alone, over 300 actors, writers, and directors were denied work in the U.S. American writer, Arthur Miller, was one of those alleged to have been “blacklisted”

7 ARTHUR MILLER wrote one of the most influential plays in
American literature, The Crucible, which was written about “The Salem Witch Trials,” but it was actually a thinly disguised play about McCarthyism.

The Crucible was written by Arthur Miller in 1953 as an allegory for McCarthyism or the so called (second) Red Scare. Miller felt many personal convictions to McCarthyism as a result of a multitude of events that happened in his life. Wanting to point out to the world the amazing parallel between the unjust Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and the (second) Red Scare, Miller wrote The Crucible to make a powerful statement about the dangers of hysteria and the dehumanization that can result.

9 ARTHUR MILLER (Continued)
In 1953, Arthur Miller wrote and produced his play, The Crucible. Ironically, many of his friends were being persecuted for their pro-communist beliefs. Miller himself was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956, and like his protagonist in The Crucible, he refused to implicate others involved in activities condemned by society at the time. Much has been written and said about the analogy drawn between McCarthy’s activities in connection with his House Committee and the events that took place during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 as they are portrayed in Miller’s play.

10 Who did the “Red Scare” affect?
This movement affected anyone, but especially entertainers such as actors, screenwriters, singers, playwrights, musicians, and authors. Who was responsible? – Joseph McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

11 During this time, Sen. McCarthy – and
others – created a “blacklist” of those people believed to be Communists; these people, including celebrities, often lost money, their jobs, and their freedoms because of these false accusations

12 HUAC The HUAC was a group formed specifically to
investigate any cases of alleged Communism. This group investigated anyone who seemed “unusual” or “outside of the norm,” anyone who questioned society or who took risks. Another famous HUAC member was J. Edgar Hoover.

13 Why Miller Cared So Much:
First, Arthur Miller was claiming his own political statement about the times. Even more importantly, Miller was retaliating against the government for their actions against him. Yes, McCarthy and his gang had even accused Miller of being a COMMUNIST

14 Miller Made His Mark: Miller had a bone to pick with the guys who accused him of Communism simply because of his play Death of a Salesman. Critics accused him of being too morbid and referred to the character Wally as “simply a nut”. In fact, Columbia studios released another play and movie, Life of a Salesman, which portrayed the play “as it should be.”

15 The Crucible The result was The Crucible, the play later made into several different movie versions, which became a huge success.

16 Celebrities Accused of McCarthyism
Lucille Ball, actress

17 Richard N. Wright, author

18 Charlie Chaplin, comedian and entertainer

19 Lena Horne, singer/actress

20 Pete Seeger, folk singer

21 Langston Hughes, author

22 Aaron Copland, composer

23 ...and many more…. “The Hollywood Ten:”

24 HOLLYWOOD TEN In September of 1947, the HUAC subpoenaed
nineteen witnesses (most of whom were actors, directors, and writers) who had previously refused to comment, claiming their Fifth Amendment rights. Eleven of the seventeen were called to testify; only one actually spoke on the stand—the remaining ten refused to speak and were labeled the “Hollywood Ten.”

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