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Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953 during the McCarthy period when Americans were accusing each other of Pro-Communist beliefs. This absurdity is reflcted in Rev. Parris's accusations towards the girls. What Parris did was essentially tell a specific girl that if she wanted to save herself, she needed to out someone else. The result was a cascade of accusations and slander, just like the McCarthy era.
Miller used research he had conducted as a college student on McCarthy to write The Crucible. McCarthy, violently against communism began the same type of hysteria that Miller uses in the Crucible when he urged the American government and it citizens to enter into its own witchhunt.
Reverend Parris' tactics are similar to McCarthy's in that they played off fear. He urged confessions, and yet again, maybe those confessions weren't necessary if fingers could be pointed in another direction, or maybe the accused could do both and receive an easier punishment. Unlike the McCarthy era, the Puritans didn't just lose their reputations or respect in their workplaces; they weren't just blacklisted as undesirables; the Puritans lost their lives.
The Crucible/ http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/m/arthur_miller/index.html