Christopher When Abigail accused well-respected people, such as
Christopher SchmittMrs. HoovenPre-AP Honors 12 January 2018The Crucible and McCarthyism ComparisonThe Salem Witch trials generated mass hysteria and panic during the late 1600s. The villagers of Salem Massachusetts became extremely paranoid of each other, and many innocent people were executed because they were believed to be involved in witchcraft. But in the early 1950s, history repeated itself with the Mccarthy trials. Many Americans were falsely accused of being communists, and their lives and reputations were ruined as a result. The Salem Witch Trials and the Mccarthy Trials are very closely connected to each other in many different ways. Similar to Abigail Williams from The Crucible, Joseph McCarthy brought about nationwide hysteria with the McCarthy trials. “An atmosphere of fear and world domination by communists hung over America in the postwar years.” (Source F). Even though little evidence was held against the accused, Americans in the 1950s believed that communists existed within the United States and were a dangerous threat. Communists had already gained control of China and almost half of Europe. Americans were terrified of the powerful influence that Communists could have on the U.S. Government and the atomic threats from the Soviet Union. Just as the American people feared the seemingly omnipresent communists, the villagers of Salem feared the presence of witches in their town. The villagers are similar to the Americans, as they were ready to believe that their enemies were hidden among them, without any solid evidence to prove it. The Characters from The Crucible believed that there were witches in Salem because forty people were accused of practicing witchcraft in Andover, Massachusetts.Abigail Williams and Joseph McCarthy exploited the public’s fear of the unknown, and used it to rise to power. However, they both fell from power when they began to accuse highly-regarded individuals of participating in unlawful activities. When Abigail accused well-respected people, such as Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor, of taking part of witchcraft, the other villagers began to doubt her. In Source C, the villagers of Salem were unwilling to arrest Rebecca nurse because of her good reputation. “They had hesitated to go and arrest her because of her high reputation, but they took her from her sickbed, they took her from her lovely house, and they hanged her.” (Source C). The villagers were unwilling to accept that fact that their morally sound neighbors could possibly participate in witchcraft. Abigail’s trustworthiness fell as she accused people with good reputations, until she eventually left Salem. Similarly, Joseph McCarthy lost credibility when he accused officials of the U.S. Army of being Communists. “McCarthy, however, located no communists and his personal power collapsed in 1954 when he accused the Army of coddling known Communists.” (Source E). The American people soon became aware of McCarthy’s immoral tactics and dishonesty, and he was censured by the U.S. Senate. Both Abigail and McCarthy were removed from their positions of power when high-up and famous individuals were accused. Another similarity between the Salem Witch Trials and the McCarthy Trials is that the accused either had their lives ruined or were executed. Joseph McCarthy ruined many people’s lives and reputations by falsely accusing them of being Communists. Many of the accused people were isolated from their fellow Americans because they were believed to have different political views. The accused also lost their careers and found it very difficult to find new jobs. “McCarthyism did untold damage to many people’s lives and careers, had a muzzling effect on domestic debates on Cold War issues, and managed to scare millions of Americans.” (Source E). In The Crucible, the characters who were accused either had their reputations ruined or were killed. Characters, such as Giles Corey and John Proctor, who refused to confess or give details about other people who participated in witchcraft were executed by hanging or other brutal methods. The other innocent people who were accused, such as Elizabeth Proctor and Tituba, were imprisoned. The surviving people who were accused were looked down upon by other members of the Salem community. In both of the trials, the effects of the trials on the accused were very severe, as the people had their reputations tainted and found it difficult to find new careers. During the McCarthy trials, the evidence that was held against the accused was very weak and inadequate. Most of the evidence that McCarthy provided was false information. For example, McCarthy claimed that Senator Millard E. Tydings of Maryland was a friend of Earl Browder, the head of the American Communist Party. McCarthy used a fake photo that was created by Roy Cohn with Millard and Earl standing next to each other. In addition, McCarthy refused to provide the names of the people he accused of being communists. “In fact, McCarthy never produced any solid evidence that there was even one communist in the State Department.” (Source E). Like McCarthy, Abigail Williams did not produce any solid evidence that the people she accused were witches. Whenever she was asked to provide evidence, she would lie to protect her own reputation, just like how McCarthy used false information as proof. For example, Abigail stabbed herself with a needle and accused Elizabeth Proctor’s spirit of trying to murder her with the needle. Another example is when Abigail accuses Mary Warren of summoning a yellow bird to attack her, when it is clear that Abigail is pretending to be under attack. Both Abigail and McCarthy convinced many people that the individuals they accused were guilty, and had unsatisfactory evidence to support their accusations. Abigail and McCarthy lied in order to protect their reputations and stay in power.Abigail Williams and Joseph McCarthy also shared similar fates when they fell from power. McCarthy’s death was caused by alcoholism, and he passed away three years after McCarthyism had ended. “Plagued with poor health and alcoholism, McCarthy himself died three years later.” (Source F). Similar to McCarthy, Abigail Williams also had an unfortunate fate. After escaping Salem Massachusetts, Abigail Williams became a prostitute in Boston. The Salem Witch Trials and the McCarthy Trials are very important to the history of the United States. Although the two trials occured in different time periods, they are very closely connected.