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Paranoia, the Cold War and The Crucible

            Anti-socialist movements in 1950's America fueled the hysteria and paranoia of the Cold War. Senator Joseph McCarthy, head of the House of Un-American Activities Committee, amplified the chaos and accused many Americans for being enemy spies. Innocent Americans were prosecuted for being communist spies in a modern day "witch-hunt." Herb block, a political cartoonist, satirized Senator McCarthy's actions. As a victim of McCarthy's accusations, author, Arthur Miller, wrote The Crucible to put the trials in a different perspective. Both Block and Miller endeavored to shed light on McCarthy's abuse of power in their work. In The Crucible, hysteria, as well as paranoia is mounting as characters are falsely accused of witchcraft, much like the manhunt for anyone possibly a communist during the McCarthyism era. .
             Herb Block satirized Senator Joseph McCarthy in several of his political cartoons. One cartoon in particular, emphasizes the hysteria felt by the American people at the time. The cartoon depicts a vehicle labeled as "committee on Un-American Activities," running over innocent pedestrians. The pedestrians represent the innocuous Americans who were falsely prosecuted for being communist spies. The pedestrians are portrayed as panicked and hysterical as they try to escape the oncoming vehicle. The title of the cartoon, "It's ok.we're hunting communists," is being sarcastic and makes it seem as if the committee's actions are acceptable. The title compares the cartoon to the literal witch hunt presented in are Arthur Miller's, The Crucible.
             The theme of hysteria can also be seen in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. The citizens of seventeenth century Salem are rushed into a frenzy and fearful they may be the next one accused of witchcraft. The fear that no one is safe from the accusals causes panic within the community. "I have seen too many frightful proofs in court- the devil is at work in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger points" (Miller).

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