Scapegoating In The Crucible Essay

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The Crucible by Arthur Miller explores multiple themes throughout the story to further the action. Arguably the most important of these themes that Miller uses is scapegoating. To scapegoat is to blame an innocent person for wrongdoings especially out of spite or expediency. Arthur Miller uses scapegoating as he parallels the Salem witch hunts of the 1690s to the Red Scare and McCarthyism in the United States in the 1950s. There are many obvious cases of scapegoating that occur in the play. In the beginning, Tituba, Reverend Parris’ slave, and the girls are seen dancing in the forest. This originally arises suspicion as Betty Parris, Reverend Parris’ daughter, is in a coma-like state following the event. The question of witchcraft
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She was an esteemed figure in the society until Goody Putnam claimed she killed her babies. Goody Putnam’s accusation would not have been taken seriously had the hysteria of witches not been going on. The people of Salem were acting out of vengeance and wanted to blame anyone that they could. Goody Nurse remained quiet throughout the rest of the story; she never confessed. She would rather die than lie because, as the characters say, “God damns all liars.” This illustrates that Goody Nurse is noble. Also, it shows the audience that she truly is innocent. The theme of scapegoating helped Arthur Miller draw a parallel to the events of McCarthyism. In the 1950s, the U.S. government and the American people were terrified of Communists and the rise of Communism in the United States. Many innocent people were accused of being Communists and were brought in for intense interrogation. An abundant amount of people were innocent but found guilty in court. These people were scapegoats of the widespread hysteria that took over the country. Miller indirectly compares those condemned in the McCarthy hearings to those condemned by Judge Danforth in The Crucible. Without the theme of scapegoats in The Crucible, the story would not have been able to develop. Multiple characters were blamed not because of reasonable cause, but because of grudges. Arthur Miller masterfully applied the Salem trials as an extended metaphor for the McCarthy