In 1692, a group of young Puritan girls who lived in the small New England village of Salem, Massachusetts accused dozens of people of witchcraft, or channeling with the devil. In their studies of the Salem Witch Trials, along with other events in American history, historians have searched, time and time again, for answers to this probing question: What secret motivations or reasons lie behind the accusations of the innocent? In the Salem Witch Trials, the accusations were clearly caused by the girls" own fears, and the fears of the community also led to the use of scapegoats for the evils of Salem. Arthur Miller, who wrote The Crucible, a play depicting the tragic events that occurred in Salem, was "profoundly, angrily concerned with the immediate issues of our society." (Kerr 11) Miller lived during an era that is renowned for the philosophy of McCarthyism, a great paranoia and fear of the spread of Communism. During this time, hundreds of innocent people were accused of being Communists plotting to overthrow the government of the United States. This anger with the events that transpired during the middle of twentieth century was what motivated Miller to write The Crucible. (Miller, "Why I Wrote" 160) Also, when observing the discrimination that has occurred as a result of the recent terrorist attacks on the United States, a distinct parallel can be seen between the current situation, the period of McCarthyism, and the Salem Witch Trials. Throughout the analysis of these three time periods in American history, it is apparent that when a community feels threatened, they often blame the innocent.
Arthur Miller's The Crucible reveals the human tendency to point the finger at others when one feels threatened. Often times, those blamed are completely innocent. For example, in The Crucible, many innocent people were accused. Said best by Judith Cerjak, "For every ill in Salem, witchcraft is the scapegoat.