Written in 1953, the play is a protest against the House Un-American Activities Committee's "investigation" of Soviet spy activity in the United States after World War II (Worthen 621). Worthen states that the Soviet Union's consolidation of Eastern Europe, its detonation of an atomic bomb, and the rise of communism in China ignited a near-hysteria in the United States, galvanized the "cold war" foreign policy abroad and a "witch hunt" for suspected Communists at home (621). The committee coerced individuals to confess their past activities in radical politics (Worthen 621). Many prominent governmental figures were forced to name friends and colleagues whose radical affiliations were sometimes real, but often were tenuous and fabricated (621).
Miller recreates the scenario of the 1950s in a colonial New England village. The village is overtly Puritanical, but Miller reveals that there are undertones of dissent and disagreement with the actions of certain of the village's religious leaders, Reverend Parris in particular. For a village created on religious protest, the residents adherence to the tenets of the Quaker religion is absolutely necessary for continued survival of the village. Thus, dissent is heartily discouraged. However, Miller demonstrates that under the avowed adherence to Quakerism by the village's leaders lie their own personal ambitions and desires. While keeping the play resol