In history, paranoia and superstition have been very apparent in humans, it’s something we just can’t seem to help. In Shakespearean times we were scared of witches, and in the 1950’s we were scared of communists, some paranoia’s are based on more facts than others. But facts don’t matter. If you’re scared, you’re scared. And we know it, and know that it can be taken advantage of. In our driving question “Using Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and the history of the 1950’s, how can we use film to explore the theme of appearance vs. reality, and comment on what’s changed and what’s stayed the same?” we explore the similarities between these two things, and paranoia is evident in both.
In the 1950’s after the war, in America life was great. It was the American Dream, and rumours of infiltration of communist spies into their perfect land paranoid the whole country. This is when Joseph McCarthy saw his golden opportunity, and became the spokesperson for anti-communism, vowing to take out all of the communists in the country. He of course had the support of everyone at first, but after a while he began to go too far. He targeted many people, most of them being completely innocent as he never got any conclusive evidence proving his suspects guilty throughout his whole time in the public’s eye. The party ended in 1954 when he targeted the US army, acting erratically he made many accusations but he had crossed the line. In December of that year the US senate voted to censure him, and he was done, dying from effects of alcoholism 3 years later.
This really shows how vulnerable people in fear can be, and how easy it is for someone in power to take advantage of that.
This is similar to Macbeth’s witches. People of the time were scared of witches, and believed in them whole heartedly, which is why using them was such an effective tactic in play-writing to entice the audience and get them nervous. The whole of act 3, scene 5 in Macbeth was written in to include more witches, and may have not even been written by Shakespeare, just somebody who wanted to increase ticket sales by including more exciting, nerve-wracking content.
This is similar to movies of today even, horror movies utilize ghosts, spirits, and entities that many people believe in, and if not, are scared by. People love to be thrilled, and to have their thrills justified.