Shawn as a loved and talented priest,
Shawn HamptonENG 102Researched Drama EssayJanuary 22, 2018Word Count:Due Date: January 29,2018In JohnPatrick Shanley’s play “Doubt: A Parable”was written in 2005, but takes place in 1964 in the middle of a period ofcorruption within the Catholic Church and derision of the Catholic Church. Also,this is during the Second Vatican Council, a council of bishops from around theworld gathering and making changes to the church and how the church took towardother religions and toward the secular world. In the play, he introduces thecharacter Father Flynn as a loved and talented priest, while introducing thecharacter Sister Aloysius as a stern, intolerant, disciplinary whose was a nunand the principal of St. Nicholas Church School.
Father Flynn’s characterbecomes in doubt when Sister Aloysius makes allegations that Father Flynn hadforced an inappropriate relationship on Donald Muller, the first black studentat St. Nicholas Church, but also because of Sister Aloysius’s character theallegations against him are in doubt. The constant doubt John Patrick Shanleycreates in “Doubt: A Parable” forcesa deeper understanding of the concept of doubt. He uses foreshadowing andCharacterization to depict the main theme of the impact of doubt anduncertainty on faith versus morals.Foreshadowinghelps demonstrate the impact of doubt and uncertainty on faith versus morals.
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Forexample, when Father Flynn gave the sermon on doubt in the beginning of theplay and tells a story about this one sailor who survived a cargo ship sinking.He says, “The message of the constellations had he imagined it because of hisdesperate circumstance? Or had he seen Truth once, and now had to hold on to itwithout further reassurance? That was his dilemma on a voyage without apparent end”(Shanley 1431). This foreshadowed Father Flynn’s circumstances towards the endof the play because of Sister Aloysius allegations against him. His reputationand character would be constantly in doubt because of the uncertainty SisterAloysius had on his intentions with Donald Mueller and the uncertainty of hisguilt. The doubt in his character and reputation he would receive due to theuncertainty of his guilt is well warranted. Sexual abuse and child molestationwas a major problem for the Catholic Church. The first priestly sexual abusecase to capture broad national attention in the U.S.
was probably that ofGilbert Gauthe of Lafayette, La., who pleaded guilty in 1985 to sexuallyabusing 11 boys and admitted to molesting dozens, but prior to that case theproblem had caught the attention of many within the Catholic Church. Catholicofficials acknowledged that when suspicions had been raised about Gauthe morethan a decade before.
Although the doubt in Father Flynn’s character andreputation are warranted due to the uncertainty of his guilt this uncertaintycaused Sister Aloysius to challenge her morals because she lied to Father Flynnabout calling the last parish he was assigned, but weaken her faith because sheimplied at the end of the play with saying, “I have doubts! I have such doubts”(Shanley 1459)! that she had “… look for God’s direction and can’t find it” asthat was what doubt was in the words of Father Flynn (Shanley 1431). Characterizationhelps demonstrate the impact of doubt and uncertainty on faith versus morals. In”Doubt: A Parable”, doubt and uncertaintyare significant due to the characterization of both Sister James and SisterAloysius.
The characters’ stance on certainty versus doubt divides thecharacters’ personalities. Sister Aloysius has a confident and strong-willedcharacter throughout the story while Sister James is shown to have a very insecurepersonality and is usually shown to be unclear about situations. Thischaracterization is shown when Sister James and Sister Aloysius talk aboutWilliam London’s bloody nose. Sister Aloysius is convinced that WilliamLondon’s bloody nose was self-induced while Sister James believes that Williamis innocent. This foreshadows the reactions taken by both Sister James andSister Aloysius when it comes to determining Father Flynn’s credibility. JohnPatrick Shanley does this to give an idea of how Sisters James and Sister Aloysiuswill react in the sense of certainty versus doubt. Sister James doubts FatherFlynn’s suspected behavior while Sister Aloysius is certain that Father Flynnis guilty throughout the story.
At the end of the story, Sister James claims,”I don’t think Father Flynn did anything wrong” (Shanley 1459). While SisterAloysius is certain he is guilty by saying, “Yes. But if he’d had no suchhistory, the lie wouldn’t have worked. His resignation was his confession. Hewas what I thought he was. And he’s gone” (Shanley 1459). Sister James could beconsidered a reasonable, neutral party who was willing to listen to what eachside had to say throughout the play.
This personality difference is consistentthroughout the entire pay. The theory of doubt versus certainty in Doubt isimportant because it differentiates two lead characters. In this way, JohnPatrick Shanley illustrates the conflict between the two female characters thatis crucial to the story and show how Sister Aloysius’s characterization ofbeing confident and strong is impacted by her doubts and uncertainties thathave affected her morals and weekend her faith and Sister James’scharacterization of being insecure and weak is impacted and her morals andfaith have been strengthened. John Patrick Shanley hints at this with the endof the play with Sister Aloysius bent with emotion and Sister James comfortingher.JohnPatrick Shanley used doubt in his play “Doubt:A parable” to convey the importance of certainty, while simultaneously showingthe capabilities of doubt.
The central theme in which the story is based on isthe impact of doubt and uncertainty on faith versus morals. By using theconcept of doubt, John Patrick Shanley was able to accurately portray thecharacters and the main plot of the play. A person’s doubts can cloud theirjudgment on certain tasks at hand. On the other hand, a person’s certainty canblind someone from the truth. The argument of doubt versus certainty isrelevant today in the sense that it is the main argument for and againstreligion.