Shawn loved and talented priest, while introducing the

Shawn Hampton

ENG 102

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Researched Drama Essay

January 22, 2018

Word Count:

Due Date: January 29,
2018

In John
Patrick Shanley’s play “Doubt: A Parable”
was written in 2005, but takes place in 1964 in the middle of a period of
corruption within the Catholic Church and derision of the Catholic Church. Also,
this is during the Second Vatican Council, a council of bishops from around the
world gathering and making changes to the church and how the church took toward
other religions and toward the secular world. In the play, he introduces the
character Father Flynn as a loved and talented priest, while introducing the
character Sister Aloysius as a stern, intolerant, disciplinary whose was a nun
and the principal of St. Nicholas Church School. Father Flynn’s character
becomes in doubt when Sister Aloysius makes allegations that Father Flynn had
forced an inappropriate relationship on Donald Muller, the first black student
at St. Nicholas Church, but also because of Sister Aloysius’s character the
allegations against him are in doubt. The constant doubt John Patrick Shanley
creates in “Doubt: A Parable” forces
a deeper understanding of the concept of doubt. He uses foreshadowing and
Characterization to depict the main theme of the impact of doubt and
uncertainty on faith versus morals.

Foreshadowing
helps demonstrate the impact of doubt and uncertainty on faith versus morals. For
example, when Father Flynn gave the sermon on doubt in the beginning of the
play 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 his
desperate circumstance? Or had he seen Truth once, and now had to hold on to it
without further reassurance? That was his dilemma on a voyage without apparent end”
(Shanley 1431). This foreshadowed Father Flynn’s circumstances towards the end
of the play because of Sister Aloysius allegations against him. His reputation
and character would be constantly in doubt because of the uncertainty Sister
Aloysius had on his intentions with Donald Mueller and the uncertainty of his
guilt. The doubt in his character and reputation he would receive due to the
uncertainty of his guilt is well warranted. Sexual abuse and child molestation
was a major problem for the Catholic Church. The first priestly sexual abuse
case to capture broad national attention in the U.S. was probably that of
Gilbert Gauthe of Lafayette, La., who pleaded guilty in 1985 to sexually
abusing 11 boys and admitted to molesting dozens, but prior to that case the
problem had caught the attention of many within the Catholic Church. Catholic
officials acknowledged that when suspicions had been raised about Gauthe more
than a decade before. Although the doubt in Father Flynn’s character and
reputation are warranted due to the uncertainty of his guilt this uncertainty
caused Sister Aloysius to challenge her morals because she lied to Father Flynn
about calling the last parish he was assigned, but weaken her faith because she
implied 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” as
that was what doubt was in the words of Father Flynn (Shanley 1431).

Characterization
helps demonstrate the impact of doubt and uncertainty on faith versus morals. In
“Doubt: A Parable”, doubt and uncertainty
are significant due to the characterization of both Sister James and Sister
Aloysius. The characters’ stance on certainty versus doubt divides the
characters’ personalities. Sister Aloysius has a confident and strong-willed
character throughout the story while Sister James is shown to have a very insecure
personality and is usually shown to be unclear about situations. This
characterization is shown when Sister James and Sister Aloysius talk about
William London’s bloody nose. Sister Aloysius is convinced that William
London’s bloody nose was self-induced while Sister James believes that William
is innocent. This foreshadows the reactions taken by both Sister James and
Sister Aloysius when it comes to determining Father Flynn’s credibility. John
Patrick Shanley does this to give an idea of how Sisters James and Sister Aloysius
will react in the sense of certainty versus doubt. Sister James doubts Father
Flynn’s suspected behavior while Sister Aloysius is certain that Father Flynn
is 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 Sister
Aloysius is certain he is guilty by saying, “Yes. But if he’d had no such
history, the lie wouldn’t have worked. His resignation was his confession. He
was what I thought he was. And he’s gone” (Shanley 1459). Sister James could be
considered a reasonable, neutral party who was willing to listen to what each
side had to say throughout the play. This personality difference is consistent
throughout the entire pay. The theory of doubt versus certainty in Doubt is
important because it differentiates two lead characters. In this way, John
Patrick Shanley illustrates the conflict between the two female characters that
is crucial to the story and show how Sister Aloysius’s characterization of
being confident and strong is impacted by her doubts and uncertainties that
have affected her morals and weekend her faith and Sister James’s
characterization of being insecure and weak is impacted and her morals and
faith have been strengthened. John Patrick Shanley hints at this with the end
of the play with Sister Aloysius bent with emotion and Sister James comforting
her.

John
Patrick Shanley used doubt in his play “Doubt:
A parable” to convey the importance of certainty, while simultaneously showing
the capabilities of doubt. The central theme in which the story is based on is
the impact of doubt and uncertainty on faith versus morals. By using the
concept of doubt, John Patrick Shanley was able to accurately portray the
characters and the main plot of the play. A person’s doubts can cloud their
judgment on certain tasks at hand. On the other hand, a person’s certainty can
blind someone from the truth. The argument of doubt versus certainty is
relevant today in the sense that it is the main argument for and against
religion.