Certainty is perfect knowledge that has total security from error; no certainty is used in this play. Emotions are the only fact in this play. Doubt, A Parable by John Patrick Shanley, was written in 2005. This play is a classic antagonistic pair. Shanley writes about the suspicions of the principal of a catholic school about the new Father at the parish. The principal, Sister Aloysius is the hard charging strict nun, and Father Flynn is the laissez-faire new comer. This play unfolds with the help of Sister James and a student named Donald Muller.
Father Flynn has taken a liking to young Mister Muller and Sister Aloysius thinks the Father is up to no good. The principal will stop until she thinks her schoolchildren are safe. Does Sister Aloysius go too far in her quest to get Father Flynn to confess? Sister Aloysius’s old school way of thinking does not mix with Father Flynn's new school approach. Sister Aloysius does not trust Father Flynn. Sister Aloysius noticed the first day of school Father Flynn touch a boy.
“On the first day of the school year, I saw you touch William London’s wrist. And I saw him pull away. (Shanley 1964) This and the fact this parish was his third parish in five years was the catalyst for Sister Aloysius’s conversation with Sister James, Donald Muller’s teacher. Sister Aloysius is aware that Donald Muller is the only black child in her school. Sister Aloysius’s questions discover Father Flynn has taken Mister Muller under his wing. Sister Aloysius already suspects Father Flynn’s wrongdoing. As they are talking, one day Sister Aloysius reveals that she thinks the convent and the rectory do not always agree on the way a Father should be treated.
She tells Sister James in the garden, “we might as well be separated by the Atlantic Ocean. ” (Shanley 1946) Sister Aloysius is speaking of the garden Arnett 2 separating the convent from the rectory, but she is also speaking of the distance between the Sisters and Fathers. Sister James is the one who noticed the odd behavior of Donald, but she does not believe Father Flynn has done anything wrong. After a contrived meeting about the Christmas play, Father Flynn and Sister James think Sister Aloysius has over stepped her bounds. Father Flynn and Sister James think Sister Aloysius is to over bearing.
Sister Aloysius asks Sister James, “Do you honestly find the students in this school to be treated like inmates in a prison? ” Sister James replies, “They’re all uniformly terrified of you! ” (Shandley 1955) It is not only the children but also the teachers at the school that are terrified of her. If one of the children or one of the Fathers fall she is ready to discipline them, she has a different discipline set for the other nuns. Sister Aloysius does have compassion for Sister Veronica. Sister Veronica is going blind and if the rectory found out they would fire her.
Sister Aloysius is willing to let a nun slide when she is blind. She is unwilling to except a Fathers word he is not doing anything wrong. Sister Aloysius has a double standard when it comes to nuns and everyone else. Father Flynn’s wrong doings are circumstantial at best; Sister Veronica is actively falling down where ever she goes. Sister Aloysius will ever get along with Father Flynn because she is jaded to everyone other than nuns. Sister Aloysius states, “I’ll bring him down. ” (Shanley 1955) That sounds like a vendetta not a concerned principal.
Just like oil and water, Father Flynn and Sister Aloysius do not mix. When Father Flynn gives his sermon on gossip, he is clearly pointing at Sister Aloysius. This sermon was for the direct purpose to guilt Sister Aloysius in stopping her questions about him. When Father Flynn stated, “Is gossiping a sin? ” (Shanley 1956) he was telling Sister Aloysius that it was. Sister Aloysius Arnett 3 did not see herself as gossiping in the first place. Father Flynn had already burned his sermon bridge with her when he was recording an idea in his notebook during the Christmas pageant meeting, “Intolerance. (Shanley 1952) That one word explains not only Sister Aloysius, but also the church. Sister Aloysius never would allow a secular song to be played in church. Father Flynn thinks that secular music would bring in the outside community. Sister Aloysius does not care that a little secular music would open the church to the community.
She thinks that the church and the citizens should be separated. They refuse to see eye to eye. Sister Aloysius’s old school way of thinking does not mix with Father Flynn’s new school approach. This play represents a catholic church that has been through some rough times in he past few decades. The accusations in this play were unfounded and on a hunch. Sister Aloysius bullied her way into Father Flynn’s business. In reality not all accusations have been based on doubt; quite a few have been true. Doubt is everywhere in life. There is not a person within eyesight or earshot that is not doubtful about something. Father Flynn words from his sermon are very peaceful, “When you are lost, you are not alone” Everyone could use those words sometimes. Sister Aloysius decided that when in doubt dig until you break the other person. That does not sound particularly biblical.