How Did Paranoia Affect The Crucible

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“Paranoia is an illness I contracted in institutions. It is not the reason for my sentences to reform school and prison. It is the effect, not the cause” (Jack Henry Abbatt). In this quote, Abbatt explains paranoia is not a cause, but an effect, which is shown to be the backbone of the witch trails and hunts. In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, he dramatizes the Salem witch trials, as well as addresses the issues of the communist witch-hunts. The infamous Salem witch trials and communist witch-hunts are similar due to the mass paranoia produced by these events. The accusations made by higher powers, the confessions of the wrongly accused, and their lasting effects represent how paranoia shaped the trials of the 1690s and hunts of the 1950s.

Paranoia swept throughout Salem, Massachusetts during the
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The House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated people who were suspected of overthrowing or threatening the US democracy. Anyone who was not a legal resident of the United States had to file a statement of their occupational and personal status. HUAC started their job of “…hunting down those who were believed to be a threat to American beliefs” (The Red Scare). Movies were believed to be attempting to propagandize Communist beliefs, so many actors, directors, and writers were accused of being involved with the Communist party. Other members of Hollywood became paranoid with the thought: who will be next? The accused were “suspended…without pay” if they did not confess (The Red Scare). Many of those who refused to confess claimed their Fifth Amendment rights, which protect against self-incrimination. The ramification outcome of these actions was a decade-long blacklist. The 1950s Communist witch-hunts’ paranoia expanded rapidly in Hollywood and the United States due to the accusation, confessions, and