The witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts in the early sixteen hundreds was a time of uneasiness and suspicion. Anyone could easily turn in his or her neighbor on the ground of witchcraft. Someone could merely say their neighbor’s spirit had attacked them during the night, which no man can prove.
Nevertheless, as a God-fearing community, they could not think of denying the evidence, because to deny the existence of Evil is to deny the existence of Goodness, which is God. The most important scene in the play was act two, scene three, where John Proctor is able to talk with his wife, Elizabeth, one last time. He decides that he will “confess” to the crime of witchcraft, thereby avoiding being hung. However, to accept what he said, the judge also requires him to sign a written confession which states that he confessed to the crime of witchcraft. Judge Danforth would post it on the church door, to use Proctor as an example to get other people to confess. That upset Proctor greatly, because people would look down on him with disdain, and it would blacken forever his name. What was most important to him was to make a ezd against the insanity of the town, for himself and for God, and using that as a last resort to make people aware of what was happening. This last ezd for righteousness is an example of proctor’s great character and rationale.
Arthur Miller wrote his play, The Crucible, a story about the Salem witch trials, and the panic resulting from it, as an allegory to show people the insanity of the McCarthy hearings. He wrote it as an allegory so that, if tried by McCarthy, he could say, “it’s just a play about the witch trials in Salem. How do you get this communist idea from it?” The story illustrates how people react to mass hysteria, created by a person or group of people desiring fame, as people did during the McCarthy hearings.
Arthur Miller, acting as a great visionary, warned us that if we did not become aware of history repeating itself, our society would be in danger. At the same time, he had to do this in a matter that would not get him arrested, hence the witch-trial mechanization.