Comparing The Salem Witch Trials And The Red Scare

1294 words - 5 pages

Inspired by the Red Scare, which was fuled by use of the either-or ( black and white) fallacy of thinking, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible depicts the village of Salem undergoing its own period of black and white thinking along with the suspicion and hysteria which followed. Miller exploits the literary element of setting to support the portrayal of the effects of black and white thinking in Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
The beginning of something new establishes a setting of opportunities, creating optimism and purpose for an uncertain future. The establishment of colonies in the New World presented a delectable scenario for curious opportunists and religious refugees. For reasons of economic gain, escape from religious repression, and a multitude of other reasons, colonists from England decided to take a risk and pursue a possibility of freedom. They perceived this New World as an unknown, a place where its native inhabitants were “blind” and desperately needed the revelation of god. Because the colonists wanted to help the natives obtain salvation, they branded this motive in the first seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony: “Come over and help us,” (The First Seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.) Their seal reflected the commercial and missionary intentions of the first colonists. The colonists viewed themselves as the flaming touch about to set light upon the shadows existing in the New World. “They believed, in short, that they held in their steady hands the candle that would light the world. […] It helped them with the discipline it gave them.” (The Crucible, 5) They were the people to work hard and show success. They were the people to maintain strict orthodox. They were the people to succeed where others have failed, to convert the Native Americans. This feeling of dedication and perseverance towards religion was strictly engrained in the mental processes of the early colonists of Massachusetts Bay. This setting portrays the effect of black and white thinking because their world is split into two parts. They believed they were the “white” or the good and righteous in the situation, while people who held different values, such as the Native Americans, were the “black”. It was a setting which made any aberration from within the colony’s own ranks hard to accept and therefore worthy of punishment. Miller portrays this by writing emphatically about the expectations and rules of the Salem village against anomalies such as dancing in the woods. “My own household is discovered to be the very center of some obscene practice. Abominations are done in the forest—.” (11, Parris) In absence of a logical explanation for these anomalies, the colonists turned to unnatural causes. Under the extreme pressure and demand of such a setting, the colonists of Salem began to take sides. They began to rule out mere possibilities and go with conclusive sides, witches or non-witches. The setting of the Salem Witch Trials allowed for...

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