At the time of its first performance, in January of 1953, critics and cast alike perceived The Crucible as a direct attack on McCarthyism. This perception was caused by a number of factors, the main two being Millers public disapproval of McCarthyism and the parallels between the Salem Witch trials of The Crucible and the McCarthy hearings of Miller's time. He wrote The Crucible in an attempt to enlighten the public about the unjust persecution of "Communists" during the 1950s. By doing so, his goal was to reduce the unreasonable paranoia and fear of communists that was leading to panic and situations such as the McCarthy hearings.
It is clear that Miller's The Crucible parallels his life and times. The witch hunts are his 1600s version of the McCarthy hearings and persecution of communist spies during his time, the 1950s. There are some difficulties in interpreting The Crucible as a strict allegorical treatment of 1950s McCarthyism. For one, there were never any witches in Salem; however, there most definitely were Communists in the United States in the 1950s. While this undeniable fact remains true, the way in which Senator Joe McCarthy aroused paranoia and suspicion of Communists in the public was most definitely similar to Abigail's actions. Another very clear similarity between Miller's The Crucible and his actual life was the panic and hysteria caused by an unwarranted fear. Whether this fear is of Communists or witches, the effect was the same; many innocent individuals were brought to trial because of arising suspicions from the general public, and some were punished not because they had done something wrong, but because of the fear and paranoia of the people. Led by McCarthy, special congressional committees conducted highly controversial investigations intended to root out Communist sympathizers in the United States. As with the alleged witches of Salem, suspected Communists were encouraged to confess and to identify other Communist sympathizers as means of escaping punishment.