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Introduction to The Crucible


Introduction to The Crucible Arthur Miller and Joseph McCarthy – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to The Crucible

Introduction to The Crucible
  • Arthur Miller and Joseph McCarthy

AM and MM
  • Miller married the motion-picture actress Marilyn
    Monroe in 1956 they divorced in 1961.

(No Transcript)
The Cold War in America
  • At the end of World War II, the United States and
    the USSR emerged as the worlds major powers.
    They also became involved in the Cold War, a
    state of hostility (short of direct military
    conflict) between the two nations.
  • Many Americans feared not only Communism around
    the world but also disloyalty at home. Suspicion
    about Communist infiltration of the government
  • A lot of Americans thought the Soviets got the
    atomic bomb by using spies. It was charged that
    secret agents, working under cover, had stolen
    our secrets and given them to the Enemy. Even
    worse, these spies supposedly were hardly ever
    Russians themselves, but often American citizens,
    the kind of people you see every day on the
    street and hardly even notice.
  • a Communist could be anybody. It sort of makes a
    Communist sound like the bogey-man, doesnt it?
    To many people in 1953, a Communist was just as
    scary as the bogey-man, and a lot more real.

  • Congress began to investigate suspicions of
    disloyalty. The House Un-American Activities
    Committee (HUAC) sought to expose Communist
    influence in American life.
  • Beginning in the late 1940s, the committee called
    witnesses and investigated the entertainment
    industry. Prominent film directors and
    screenwriters who refused to cooperate were
    imprisoned on contempt charges.
  • As a result of the HUAC investigations, the
    entertainment industry blacklisted, or refused to
    hire, artists and writers suspected of being

Joseph McCarthy
  • Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin gained power
    by accusing others of subversion.
  • In February 1950, a few months after the USSR
    detonated its first atomic device, McCarthy
    claimed to have a list of 205 Communists who
    worked in the State Department.
  • Although his accusations remained unsupported and
    a Senate committee labeled them a fraud and a
    hoax, McCarthy won a national following.
    Branding the Democrats as a party of treason, he
    denounced his political foes as soft on
    Communism and called Trumans loyal secretary of
    state, Dean Acheson, the Red Dean.

  • McCarthyism came to mean false charges of
  • In September 1950, goaded by McCarthy, Congress
    passed the McCarran Internal Security Act, which
    established a Subversive Activities Control Board
    to monitor Communist influence in the United

  • McCarthys influence continued until 1954, when
    the Senate censured him for abusing his
    colleagues. His career collapsed.
  • Fears of subversion continued. Communities banned
    books teachers, academics, civil servants, and
    entertainers lost jobs unwarranted attacks
    ruined lives.

The HUAC and Hollywood
  • HUAC investigated communism within Hollywood,
    calling a number of playwrights, directors and
    actors known for left-wing views to testify.
  • Some of these, including film director Elia
    Kazan, testified for the committee to avoid
    prison sentences
  • the Hollywood Ten, a group of entertainers,
    refused to testify and were convicted of contempt
    and sentenced to up to one year in prison.

The Hollywood Ten
  • These industry workers called before the HUAC to
    testify about their ties to communism knew they
    had three options.
  • They could claim they were not and never had been
    members of the Communist Party (this would have
    meant perjuring themselves)
  • they could admit or claim membership and then be
    forced to name other members (and this would have
    meant losing their jobs both because of their
    former membership and their dubious position as
  • or they could refuse to answer any questions
    (which is the choice they made).

  • Over 300 entertainers were placed on a blacklist
    for possible communist views and were thus
    forbidden to work for major Hollywood studios
    (many of these were writers who worked under
  • Arthur Miller was one of
  • those blacklisted.

  • Miller admitted to the HUAC that he had attended
    meetings, but denied that he was a Communist.
  • He had attended, among others, four or five
    writer's meetings sponsored by the Communist
    Party in 1947, supported a Peace Conference at
    the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, and signed many
    appeals and protests.
  • Refusing to name others who had associated with
    leftist or suspected Communist groups, Miller was
    cited for contempt of Congress

Even if you had no Communism in your own past,
you could easily be in the same position as
Arthur Miller- you knew someone who did. That was
more than enough to get you in trouble with
Senator McCarthy and similar investigators. Imagi
ne what it was like being called in to testify.
McCarthy or his aides might say, Are you now, or
have you ever been, a member of the Communist
Party? No. Do you know anyone who is or was a
Communist? No. McCarthy holds up some cards. We
have the names of people who have already
Your name came up in connection with their
testimony. Why do you suppose that is? You say
you dont know, but you can tell that no one
believes you. Maybe youre not so innocent after
all, you think. Have you signed anything, donated
any money, said anything to anybody that might
sound suspicious? You begin to feel guilty either
way even if you dont have any Communist
connections, youve done nothing to stop the
spread of this evil. You did it, its your
fault, their questions seem to say. And they
wont let you go until you make up for it in some
way. So you tell them about your friend whos
never home on Tuesday nights, or anyone you know
whos been acting a little odd the last few
weeks. You name names, and they let you go. And
afterward no one wants anything to do with you.
You were called in to testify, there had to be a
reason. You must be a Communist, or at least have
been working for them. You lose your friends,
your job, sometimes even your family.
  • Miller wrote The Crucible not simply as a
    straight historical play detailing the Salem
    witch trials.
  • a good deal of the information in the play
    misrepresents the literal events of the trial at
  • time of the trial, John Proctor was sixty years
    old and Abigail Williams only eleven.
  • The play is an allegory for the McCarthy era, in
    which similar witch hunts occurred targeting
    citizens as communists rather than disciples of
    the devil.

What does crucible mean?
  1. a vessel of a very refractory material (as
    porcelain) used for melting and calcining a
    substance that requires a high degree of heat
  2. a severe test
  3. a place or situation in which concentrated forces
    interact to cause or influence change or