“The Crucible” Part Four (McCarthyism and Act Two)


Why did Miller write this play when he did (1950s)?

We are going to begin thinking, researching, and writing about this question as you read Act 2. First, a little background information and vocabulary. Add the following words with definitions to your vocabulary set on Quizlet.com:

  1. Communism
  2. McCarthysim
  3. Espionage
  4. Dubious
  5. Aghast
  6. Disavowed

Go to this link, http://www.ushistory.org/us/53a.asp, and complete the following:

  1. I want you to read the article about McCarthyism on the website. Be sure to read the speech from Senator McCarthy that is included in the article. I want you to summarize the article in at least one paragraph.
  2. Read this quote from Senator McCarthy’s speech: “As one of our outstanding historical figures once said, ‘When a great democracy is destroyed, it will not be because of enemies from without, but rather because of enemies from within.’ The truth of this statement is becoming terrifyingly clear as we see this country each day losing on every front.” What is Senator McCarthy trying to say? Restate this in your own words. How does this relate to the drama “The Crucible?”
  3. After learning about Senator McCarthy, which character in the play do you feel best represents him and why?
  4. Read this quote from the article: “On February 20, 1950, McCarthy addressed the Senate and made a list of dubious claims against suspected communists. He cited 81 cases that day. He skipped several numbers, and for some cases repeated the same flimsy information. He proved nothing, but the Senate called for a full investigation. McCarthy was in the national spotlight. Staying in the headlines was a full-time job. After accusing low-level officials, McCarthy went for the big guns, even questioning the loyalty of Dean Acheson and George Marshall. Some Republicans in the Senate were aghast and disavowed McCarthy.” How does the end of Act Two relate to these events? What do you see happening with some of the characters in the drama?
  5. READ ACT 2.
  6. Why did Miller write this play when he did (1950s)? (I want your answer to be a full page! Today, I would just like you to plan it it out. Create an outline for your essay) Think about the following:
    1. Reread the section “Tail Gunner Joe Shot Down.” Knowing Miller’s play was a political statement, does this information change what you think will happen to some of the characters in the end?
    2. Based on information in the section “Blacklisting,” how did the trials and sentencing of Salem relate to the “Blacklisting” process? (How do you “get out of” being hanged?)
    3. Pay attention to the dates surrounding McCarthyism. When did it begin? When did it “end”? Miller wrote the play in 1952. Why is this specific date important? What does it tell you about Arthur Miller?

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