Get help from the best in academic writing.

The Witch Hunt in The Crucible and During the Time of McCarthyism

The Themes of The Crucible and Parallels to McCarthyism

Set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible describes the witch hunt that saw harmless people hanged for crimes they did not commit. The Crucible provides an accurate historical account of the witch hunt, but its real achievement lies in the many important issues it deals with. Miller’s concerns with conscience, guilt and justice develop into significant and thought-provoking themes throughout the play. These themes are developed through the characters of Abigail Williams, John Proctor and Deputy Governor Danforth. The Crucible is even more successful when the wider relevance of these issues is considered. This occurs particularly when the themes of the play are examined in relation to the events occurring at the time Miller was writing.

The inhibitions born out of the Puritanical values of the time are perhaps what forced Abigail Williams into such evil behaviour. Abigail and the girls are allowed no freedom to have fun, a point illustrated by their fear that their parents will discover they were dancing in the forest. Later, as the girls successfully accuse more and more people of witchcraft, they begin to seek revenge on the adults in their lives who have oppressed them and who, until now, they were bound to obey unfailingly. Abigail Williams depicts Miller’s concern with guilt and conscience. When speaking of the Salem witch hunt, Miller talks about ‘men handing conscience to other men’. This handing over of conscience is one of Miller’s most prominent concerns in the play. When people shed the responsibility of their conscience, they are no longer able to feel guilt, and their sense of right and wrong is left i…

… middle of paper …

…rous than the alleged threats themselves. This is because people lose their sense of justice through the ‘handing over’ of conscience and the shedding of guilt. The fact that this pattern repeats itself throughout history indicates the mastery of Miller: he recognises a crucial concern of the individual in society.

Throughout Arthur Miller’s The Crucible the issues of the ‘handing over’ of conscience, the divesting of guilt, and the administration of justice are presented to create a masterful drama. The Crucible deals with issues crucial to all people of all time and is therefore a timeless and momentous play.

Works Cited and Consulted

Karlsen, Carol. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman, Witchcraft in Colonial New England.

Robinson, Enders. The Devil Discovered, Salem Witchcraft 1692.

Starkey, Marion. The Devil in Massachusetts.

Imagery and Symbolism in David Guterson’s The Country Ahead of Us, The Country Behind

Imagery and Symbolism in David Guterson’s The Country Ahead of Us, The Country Behind

In David Guterson’s anthology, The Country Ahead of Us, The Country Behind, characters are portrayed effectively and succinctly through the imagery of their surroundings. Many of his stories are symbolic in that they reflect relationships and feelings of characters. Guterson’s titles have a more complex and deeper connection to the story than is first apparent. They too are often symbolic of a main character, or of relationships.

In “Angels in the Snow,” Guterson describes the world as fragile because of the snow that has fallen. This fragility of the world, at that particular time, is representative of the relationship between John and Cora. The next morning the world is described as ‘a fragile, white place’ and this symbolises their relationship which has also become very fragile because of what John has revealed. The whiteness of the snow symbolises innocence and purity, but at this moment, through Cora’s eyes, John has lost the last of his innocence. Guterson also uses the act of making angels in the snow to portray innocence that is rapidly fading.

We made angels in the snow, Cora and myself, swept our arms through

the powder, left an impression of wings that would melt before the new


It is as if John already knows what is to come, and is aware of how soon it will be. He is aware that his relationship with Cora has changed. She now has confirmation that John is not as innocent as he might have liked her to think. Through making the angels he is making one last attempt to seem innocent, for this is a very innocent act. John appears to think that if he can some how act innocently, he can convince Cora that he really is so.

In “The Flower Garden,” Guterson continues his exploration of the fragility of a relationship between a man and a woman and again portrays this by drawing parallels with what is happening in nature. The relationship between Anna and the narrator is a very fragile one like the garden they ‘planted with nursery sets and fragile garden cuttings.’ The relationship and the garden are at the beginning of their being, and both are very fragile. Both have to be thought out, then nurtured carefully. Any mistake or misjudgment can have long and lasting consequences.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.