How does The Crucible Show Connections to the More Recent Holocaust?
Frustrated by the unjust McCarthyism taking place in 1950’s America, Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible. An allegory relating America’s McCarthyism of the late 1940s and 1950s, to the Salem Witch trials of 1692-1693. The play follows Salem's local minister discovering a group of girls dancing in the forest, opening up an investigation of witchcraft in the town. John Proctor becomes involved through his affair with Abigail the previous year and her unwavering desire for him. The investigation leads to a never-ending stream of accusations and concludes with John Proctor refusing to lie and shame his own name and accepting his fate which lies with the gallows. The stream of accusations is Miller's main link to McCarthyism with people turning in others to get themselves out of trouble. While the intention of the play was as an allegory about McCarthyism connections with last century’s Holocaust arise. Miller’s play helps readers see similarities between one of the main character’s Abigail and Hitler himself. It also leads to a comparison of locations between the woods and the concentration camps and how the atmosphere they painted were very similar. Through the similarities of two people and the similar atmosphere of two locations, Miller’s play The Crucible shows connections to The Holocaust.
Miller helps readers see a small connection between Abigail and Hitler through their manipulation of others fear to control situations. Obviously Abigail and Hitler are very different with very different outcomes in mind, however, both created fear in people and then used it to manipulate them. Hitler used the Gestapo (German Police) and the shooting squad to scare people in behaving while Abigail threatened people's lives and their safety to keep them from turning her in. Abigail's threat causes the other girls to become afraid of what she will do to them if they turn her in “Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you”. From the manipulation of fear readers see the link between herself and Hitler and how through they both use others fear to shape their ideal futures and outcomes of their relative situations. Abigail wanted to end up with John and save herself, and Hitler wanted to cleanse the German population of the ‘inferior race’. Fear is a very powerful emotion and both figures knew this, through their respective methods of making others fearful the similarity between the two figures expresses itself as they both then used this fear to bend others to their will. Abigail managed to keep a large group of girls from turning her in while Hitler managed to stay in power and reshape his country. Both Abigail and Hitler used their ability to cause others to become fearful and then went ahead and manipulated them into doing what they think is necessary to get what they want.
In another aspect of fear, Miller allows readers to see a connection between the woods in The Crucible and the concentration camps set up during the Holocaust. Even though these two locations are evidently different - one is a place hypothesized to be unholy while one is a place where millions of innocent people were actually killed - the atmosphere they created was very similar and thus the connection arises. During the time of the Salem Witch trials, the woods were seen as the Devil's home and were generally avoided by all townsfolk. “The Salem folk believed that the virgin forest was the devil's last preserve, his home base and the citadel of his final stand.” The devil is historically and even now been a personification of evil and the mention of the name will cause darkness to apply and fear felt. With the mention of the Holocaust and the concentration camps the darkness that associates itself with the devil with comes about. The concentration camps killed millions of people and are not ever associated with anything but darkness. Thus the darkness of the woods in The Crucible created by the unknown dark space inflict similar emotions to the concentration camps. By comparing these two locations through their connection of being dark and evil places another link between The Crucible and the Holocaust presents itself.
Through Miller’s aim to link The Crucible to McCarthyism he has allowed other links from more situations to become clear. Miller illustrated Abigail’s manipulation of other people's fear to show a connection between herself and Adolf Hitler. He also allows connections between the woods in the crucible and the concentration camps to come to the surface and leads to the understanding that each society of the time associated these places with darkness which associates with the devil himself. Even though Miller intended for The Crucible to link with McCarthyism, through the connections discussed it still presents some links to more recent events.
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