McCarthyism and the Red Scare: Historical Background to The Crucible
Lesson plans and teaching resources

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McCarthyism and the Red Scare

"Are You Now or Were You Ever?"
In this essay Arthur Miller describes the paranoia that swept America and the moment his then-wife Marilyn Monroe became a bargaining chip in his own prosecution.

Testimony of Pete Seeger before the House Un-American Activities Committee, August 18, 1955
Transcript of questions and answers.

This collection of cartoons by Herblock (Herb Block) covers the 50s and McCarthyism. They would lend themselves well to a pre-reading activity.

Kazan, Miller, and the McCarthy Era
From the site: "Although director Elia Kazan won an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement at the 1999 Academy Awards, his career and reputation have remained clouded by his 1952 decision to "name names" before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Kazan's testimony not only diminished his reputation; it also led to a personal and artistic rupture with good friend and playwright Arthur Miller. In this set of learning activities, students will use the Miller-Kazan story as an introduction to the McCarthy era ... [and] the political ramifications of censorship."

Teaching The Crucible with the New York Times
This generous collection of resources includes reviews of the play from the 1950s, essays by Arthur Miller on why he wrote the play, articles related to recent "witchhunts," reviews of the film, biographies of Miller, and many other related articles on McCarthyism, the historical witch trials and other related newspaper stories.

Understanding The Crucible
If you're asking your students to research the background of the play, here is the page to start with. This collection of links is divided into five parts: the American colonial period, The Crucible, McCarthyism, Puritanism, and the Salem Witch Trials. A very thorough site!