Hale: How is Rebecca charged, Mr. Nurse?
Francis, with a mocking, half-hearted laugh: For murder, she’s charged! Mockingly quoting the warrant: “For marvelous and supernatural murder of Goody Putnam’s babies.”
The accusations of witchcraft spread throughout Salem and affect even highly regarded people like Rebecca Nurse. The claim against her is based on one person’s unsubstantiated accusation. This situation symbolizes the Red Scare, a time period in U.S. history during which the fear of the spread of communism caused the House Un-American Activities Committee and Senator Joseph R. McCarthy to implicate many innocent people. The charge against Rebecca Nurse references the way Senator McCarthy accused some people of being communists without having any substantial proof.
Parris: This is a clear attack upon the court!
Hale, to Parris, trying to contain himself: Is every defense an attack upon the court? Can no one—?
Parris: All innocent and Christian people are happy for the courts in Salem! These people are gloomy for it.
Here, Parris reacts to others disagreeing with his desire to question the ninety-one townspeople who signed a testament in defense of the good characters of Rebecca Nurse, Elizabeth Proctor, and Martha Corey—three women accused of witchcraft. Parris’s insistence that such a testament and his inability to question the signers are an attack upon the court symbolizes the way people were pressured to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare. Parris’s enraged reaction also symbolizes the way Senator McCarthy viewed any resistance to his zealous desire to root out communists as un-American.
Giles: He’ll lay in jail if I give his name!
Hawthorne: This is contempt of the court, Mr. Danforth!
Danforth, to avoid that: You will surely tell us the name.
Giles: I will not give you no name. I mentioned my wife’s name once and I’ll burn in hell long enough for that. I stand mute.
Here, Giles Corey is being pressured by the court to provide the names of others in Salem who have practiced witchcraft, but he refuses to do so. Giles already regrets mentioning that his wife, Martha Corey, read books, a statement that led to her imprisonment because it was assumed she was reading books about witchcraft and spells. The accusation against and imprisonment of Martha Corey symbolize the flimsy evidence brought against Americans by Senator McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Danforth’s insistence that Giles Corey name other witches represents the way HUAC pressured suspects to provide the names of other communists.
Danforth, angered now: Reproach me not with the fear in the country; there is fear in the country because there is a moving plot to topple Christ in the country!
Hale: But it does not follow that everyone accused is part of it.
Danforth: No uncorrupted man may fear this court, Mr. Hale! None! To Giles: You are under arrest in contempt of this court.
Reverend Hale has just explained to Deputy Governor Danforth that the residents of Salem have come to fear the court because of the many innocent people who have been imprisoned and killed as a result of being accused of witchcraft. Danforth insists that no innocent person need fear the court, a statement readers and Hale know to be false based on the fact that Giles Corey was arrested simply for refusing to give names. This situation symbolizes the way Americans feared the House Un-American Activities Committee that got people like Arthur Miller blacklisted from Hollywood when he refused to testify in front of the HUAC. Danforth’s concern that there was a “plot to topple Christ in the country” echoes Senator McCarthy’s paranoia that communists had infiltrated the U.S. government and would try to topple democracy.
Proctor: You will not use me! I am no Sarah Good or Tituba, I am John Proctor! You will not use me! It is no part of salvation that you should use me!
Danforth: I do not wish to—
Proctor: I have three children—how may I teach them to walk like men in the world, and I sold my friends?
Here, John Proctor refuses to name other people in Salem who are witches in order to save himself from hanging. He references others like Sarah Good and Tituba who have named names in order to save their lives. This symbolizes the way that Senator McCarthy put pressure on people to save themselves by naming others who might be communists. Some people who were called before the House Un-American Activities Committee did this, while others, like Arthur Miller, refused to testify or name names. These people were blacklisted, which meant their reputations and careers were ruined during this time period.