The Situation: Your class will be reading The Crucible by Arthur Miller. In order to better comprehend and appreciate the play, the students should know that the play can be read as an allegory to Joseph McCarthy and his hunt for communism in American society during the 1950’s.


Your Task: Research Joseph McCarthy and the activities of HUAC. In your research, be sure to answer the questions below. Prepare to present your findings to the rest of the class.

1.    Short definition of Communism. Describe America’s attitude toward communists and communism during the late 40’s and early 50’s.

2.    Who was the President of the United States during this time?

3.    What is containment? The domino theory?

4.    Who is Joseph McCarthy? Provide a short biography.

5.    What speech did he make, and how did it kick off the Red Scare?

6.    What is HUAC? Describe its mission under McCarthy.

7.    Who were the Hollywood Ten, and what happened to them?

8.    When such people as Larry Parker and Roy Huggins “named names,” what happened to the people they named? If you were “named” and refused to talk, what happened?

9.    List some people who couldn’t work and tell why.

10. Who were McCarthy’s “helpers” on HUAC? What was their role?

11. Ultimately, what was McCarthy’s fate? Explain fully. When and how did he go too far?

12. What was the HUAC renamed in 1969? What is its status today?

13. Prediction: What bearing does all of this have on the play we are about to read?


Some sites to help you get started:

Presentation Suggestions

  • Power Point
  • Laptop Activity
  • Video (Newscast, TV commercial, Public Service Announcement, Interview)
  • Poster with graphics and written information
  • Newspaper or magazine article
  • Brochure