by Joe Schmoe
A comparison between The Crucible and certain historical figures.
|Hitler, Stalin, Jean-Claude ad Francois Duvalier. Four figures who stood towering over nations, commanding respect and striking utter fear. Fear was their tool, manipulation their goal. Although Arthur Miller’s play the Crucible was aimed at criticizing a specific period in American history-the McCarthy trials of the 1950s-the work has relevance to past society on a number of levels, particularly the topic of fear, its motivation and the resultant paranoia of a mass population in accordance with the fear used by the four figures.
Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier used fear as their main asset to control their citizens. There lay Germany, Russia and Haiti, decimated by fear and plagued with death. Hitler attacked different groups of people, one after the other, creating divisions in Germany. Fear festered in the minds of the Germans. “What’s to stop the Nazi’s from coming for me if I help those people out”. Stalin commanded Russia by utilizing fear as his very sharp weapon. Like Hitler, Stalin deviously created divisions between the Soviet Union. Once he was able to slice groups to shreds he then attacked the individual based on his divisive policies. While Francois Duvalier came to be in power by manipulating and murdering thousands of people, Jean-Claude completely consolidated his power by plunging Haiti into a pool of poverty. While Francois, Stalin, and Hitler were fueled by power and used fear of death as a gate to that power, Jean-Claude used economic despair as his way to power in order to feed his thirst for money.
In the Crucible, those wielding the power have similar motives. Although Hitler, Stalin, and Francois’ intentions for their country were planned, this was not the case of Jean-Claude. In exception Jean-Claude did not purposely attempt to purge any but this resulted from his greed of money, which inadvertently caused the complete downfall of Haiti. Each dictator withheld a motivation. Hitler, Stalin, and Francois were all motivated by their need for complete control. Jean-Claude’s motivation was his hunger for wealth. Hitler and Francois on the other hand had dual motivations. They both took place in ethnical purges of a group or groups. Hitler attacked communities, organizations, and any type of communion among people in which he saw a resemblance to the traits he hated most in himself. He used their destruction as a way to eliminate his own flaws. Francois although he rejected communist thoughts, found a similarity between him and the communists and annihilated any communist or those associated with them.
In turn, in the Crucible many were killed in order to annihilate the town’s fear of witches. Jean-Claude: Putnam, Stalin: Abigail, two examples of the Crucible counter parts. Jean-Claude was just like Putnam; although both don’t directly accuse societies they indirectly aided their downfall with their greed for money. Jean-Claude bankrupted almost all his countrymen just for matters of his own personal affairs. In the process he allowed thousands to die for his own gain. He lived a fanciful life while his country sunk into economic despair. This can also be said of Putnam. Although Putnam could see what Abigail and her friends were doing he allowed it for his own purposes. He realized that by committing these acts Abigail was opening a new fortune of land and opportunity for him. His need for money accompanied with his greed allowed him to let 33 people to die, and 140 to be accused in order to gain their land. The equivalent of Stalin is Abigail. They both searched for power and brought down those they considered their friends in order to gain it. Stalin, coming from a proletariat background, had a nurtured need for power. It was only natural after being subjugated for so long to want power. Yet, once he became acquainted with the power he became insane with it. “The best way to control a population is through fear”. Stalin then turned against and sometimes killed his own fellow Soviet members. The need for power was so great in him that when his power was questioned he arranged the death of his supposed protégé, Sergey Kirov. Abigail was no better. Living a love deprived life; Abigail sought to keep the only love she had ever been given. She was willing to sacrifice everything in order to gain John Proctor’s love. Once she was able to manipulate her society and gain control of their minds, using their own fear as her fuel she controlled all. Yet, even with this power she was not loved. It was only natural that when one of her friends betrayed her that she retaliated. She went as far to accuse her former friend of being a witch.
The extreme use of fear with manipulation caused resultant paranoia among societies. Germany was plagued with massive paranoia of a population. Since Hitler tended to attack random groups of people most citizens carried on their backs the weight of paranoia as if it were a disease. In truth it could possibly have become a disease. It was only sane that after such exposure to such sanity that they became insane with paranoia. Minister Martin Niemoller once said, “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak out for me.” The Soviet Union then followed suit. Stalin attacked almost every group and individual possible. In turn people had nowhere to run. Scared they would be next to being tormented many committed suicide, the ones who were left had “eyes in the back of their heads.” Next to follow was Haiti. Left in an unstable position by both Jean-Claude and Francois nothing was safe or secure. No financial security caused massive paranoia to ensure the countries downfall. Trust, camaraderie and friendship quickly dissolved. When everyone’s out for him or herself who is there left to trust? Streets ran red not only with blood, but with insanity. Nowhere to turn, nowhere to run Haiti collapsed.
Germany had Hitler, Russia had Stalin and Haiti had Jean-Claude and Francois. There will always be figures in history rising up using fear as their weapon. In all types of society and class of people fear will exist. It is the darkness that preys on one’s nightmares and turns it into a bittersweet reality. Fear in history has always been the best tool in manipulation. Its son is known as paranoia and is just as deadly. In each tyrannical empire fear has been the double-edged blade of fear and paranoia that figures like Hitler, Stalin, Francois and Jean-Claude favor when using the cruel and efficient art known as manipulation.