The McCarthy Trials and The Crucible
Arthur Miller's "The Crucible", although a great play in its own right, was a reaction to the hysteria and panic that proceeded during the McCarthy trials. The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 are the backdrop for the book's premise, and they seem to parallel the whole idea of chaos which ensues when "mass idea" takes over a community, in this case the belief that many of the townspeople are involved in some sort of witchcraft.
Concisely written, "The Crucible" does not waste words, yet still packs a serious punch. The underlying themes encompassed within the novel-mass hysteria, intolerance, faith (and lack thereof)-are issues not only dealt with in this society, but ours as well in certain cases. Embedded within the message of the work is the idea that "mass thought" can affect how a society believes and operates, and in this case it is of the girls and other members of Salem accused of dealings with malevolent forces.
John Proctor, despite his faults, is the one voice of common reason and logic. He gets Mary Warren to return to court to try and discredit the testimonies of the girls accused, but in the process seals his own fate. As a symbol for protest against all the illogical reasoning, Proctor shows his willpower in the play's climactic scene.
All in all, this is a thought-provoking play that takes on many subjects relevant to both the 1950s and today. If you are interested in the McCarthyism of the 1950s or the Witch Trials, you are sure to find this book interesting. I'm glad I finally decided to sit down and read this book after hearing so much about it!