Arthur Miller and McCarthyism (TLC)

DEMOCRACY TODAY, COMMUNISM TOMORROW – This Red Scare propaganda poster depicts an impending communist uprising and takeover of American politics.

Arthur Miller is best known for his two plays “The Death of a Salesman” and “The Crucible.” The Death of a Salesman came first followed by The Crucible. It is unclear what inspired Miller to write “Death of a Salesman” but there is serious gossip regarding why he wrote “The Crucible.” Believe it or not; it has to do with communism and passports.

Arthur Miller wrote “The Crucible” directly in response to the communist “witch hunt” of the 1940s and 1950s led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. This time period was so belligerent to the public; the whole façade got its own name, McCarthyism. It is also known as the 2nd Red Scare. It is described as, “the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence” (Bio, 2003.) The long story made short is that Senator McCarthy compiled a “Hollywood blacklist” which targeted screenwriters, actors, directors and musicians that were alleged members or sympathizers of the American Communist Party. (Wikipedia) Arthur Miller was one of the many targeted under such allegations.

Arthur Miller, then thirty-seven years old, was condemned for disrespect & disapproval of the United States Congress for being unsuccessful in naming numerous individuals who had attended meetings with him. In a bid to not only secure his career as a journalist and playwright and also to alert the American people against the government’s misinformation and  propaganda that was headed their way, Miller started to write “The Crucible”. Using the ‘Salem Witch Trials’ of the early 1690s as a precinct, Arthur Miller wrote “The Crucible”. The characters in the play are faced with the same tragedies and sentences that befell people during the McCarthyism trials; he uses the ‘Salem Witch Trials’ as a metaphor to draw national attention towards the doings and executioners of the McCarthyism propaganda.

It seems that plays pulled from author’s real experiences make quite an impact. “The Crucible” is read and studied in high schools across the nation, and will surely be remembered for generations. Miller won a tony with it in 1953. Miller wrote several plays after “The Crucible” but none were remembered as much as this startling story, and none had such a profound effect on him. After this scare Miller’s passport was denied, thus rendering him stuck. It is a general consensus that Miller wrote “The Crucible” due to these allegations. So perhaps it is more fact than gossip. Either way, today’s public should be very grateful he wrote it because it is a play that lives on in America’s history.

References

Arthur Miller. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.biography.com/people/arthur-miller-9408335?page=1. [Last Accessed october 9th, 2013].

Shane Watson (2010). Why Did Arthur Miller Write The Crucible. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.writeawriting.com/write/why-didarthur-miller-write-crucible/. [Last Accessed October 9th, 2013].

(2012). Beware of the Red Scare. [ONLINE] Available at: http://apictureofpolitics.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/beware-of-the-red-scare/. [Last Accessed October 9th, 2013].

(2013). Hollywood Blacklist. [ONLINE] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_blacklist#The_blacklist_begins_.281946-1947.29. [Last

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