JP Shanley's Doubt
Pulitzer Prize for Drama /
Pages: 5 (1782 words) /
Published: May 25th, 2015
April 7, 2014
J.P. Shanley’s Doubt: A Comparison
“In the pursuit of wrongdoing, one must step away from god.” (Shanley) These are the words that sum up the very being of our story. John Patrick Shanley wrote Doubt: A Parable (2004) and “Doubt” (2008), though the tone is vastly different throughout the stories. Comparing the play and the movie will show how much can be added within the visual realm of the silver screen as opposed to the mental world of written word or limited location of the stage. In 2002, the Boston Globe erupted with tales of priestly molestation, dominated by accusations of altar boy rapes and gay priests run amuck. (Culingford) One of Shanley’s cousins accused a clergyman of sexual abuse, and Shanley revealed in a 2004 interview with Robert Coe that he himself benefited from being championed by teachers whose interest in him may well have been other than academic. “Did that make them bad people?” he asks. “Not to me. Not to me at all” (Green Eads) In an era where condemnation of the Catholic priesthood ran rampant, Shanley managed to bring thoughtfulness to the tale that makes you reconsider the immediate jump to crucify the priest in protection of the child victim. In a modern day Salem witch trial, guilt is certain even when proof is not available. As Voltaire once said, “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”
In Doubt: A Parable (2004) the story is told completely with four characters. Sister Aloysius is the principal of Saint Nicholas church school. Sister James is a history teacher within that school. Father Flynn is a priest whom also teaches gym and talks with the boys. Mrs. Muller is the mother of Donald Muller who is claimed to be the victim of Father Flynn’s alleged infraction. Though the children are widely discussed, there are none to be seen and therefor no context for which to place the alleged interactions within.
Our play opens directly into Father Flynn’s sermon
Cited: Culingford, Elizabeth. "Evil, Sin, or Doubt? The Dramas of Clerical Child Abuse." Theatre Journal May 2010: 245-263. Scholarly Journals. 4 April 2014.