Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan and the Blacklist: None Without Sin

Why Arthur Miller Wrote “The Crucible”

During the tense era of McCarthyism, celebrated playwright Arthur Miller was inspired to write a drama reflecting the mass cultural and political hysteria produced when the U.S. government sought to suppress Communism and radical leftist activity in America. This time of the Red Scare affected the playwright personally. After meeting with his close friend, famed director Elia Kazan, who had recently testified in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, Miller traveled to Salem, Massachusetts, to research the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692. On his return trip, he heard a recording of Kazan’s controversial testimony in which the director listed the names of fellow actors and playwrights with ties to Leftist causes. That evening Miller began writing The Crucible — one of his most famous plays — which uses the Salem Witch trials as an allegory to Senator Joseph McCarthy’s oppressive tactics.