Doubt: Comparing the Play and Movie

Doubt: Comparing the Play and Movie

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The differences between the movie doubt and the play have significant differences that would influence ones opinion about certain characters and situations in the story. Though the differences are few one would agree that at least one of these differences are game changers or at the very least they get you thinking and having doubts of your own.

John Patrick Shanley creates a movie as a whole I feel was more informative than the play. In the play you have 4 characters Sister Aloysius, Father Flynn, Sister James, and Mrs. Muller. While the movie introduces a few other characters, for instance the children. For me the children made a difference because they for one made me understand what kind of kids Sister James was dealing with. I really thought that being able to see the way Father Flynn interacted with all of the young boys including Donald Muller was really helpful when trying to draw your conclusion of Father Flynn versus when reading it your left to imagine for instance; what some of the kids are like. The way the book sets you up your left leaning to Father Flynn being exactly what Sister Aloysius accuses him to be. We also get to see how sister James interacts with the kids and how Sister Aloysius influences her to change the way she deals with and teaches her class.

There is other little differences that I noticed added to the story that were in the movie and not the play. There are several scenes where Mother superior is interacting with Sister Veronica. Because of some of these scenes you see another side of Sister Aloysius that presents a more compassionate lady not so wrapped up in doubt. Although Sister Aloysius comes off as a strict woman that really has no sympathy for anyone or anything, which kind of makes you question how the heck she ended up as a nun. In the movie you can clearly see that she has a softer side and actually is hiding behind that tough façade she puts up.

Another scene I believe is important that is missing from the play is the scene where sister James sees Father Flynn putting the white t-shirt back in the locker which is pivotal to the whole premise of the story, without Sister James seeing that she would have never brought it up to Sister Alyosius and we would been left to question Sister Alysosius’s accusations even more.

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To me this at least puts a little validity to what Sister Alyosius is accusing Father Flynn of.

Sister James is a key player in how much the story escalates at first but she quickly realizes that she is wrong. The thing about her is that she is a lot more sympathetic than Sister Aloysius. Sister James tried to get to the bottom the situation in the movie when she was talking to Father Flynn, but Father Flynns answers to sister James questions don’t really help you at all If your trying to make a decision regarding the accusations against him. I mean Father Flynns reaction to Sister James saying that she doesn’t think he did anything wrong leads you to believe that Father Flynn was innocent and until then I really had no clue. The one thing I will give sister James is that she is vocal about her decision to back up Father Flynn, and albeit she seems afraid of Sister Aloysius she doesn’t let her intimidate her.

There is one other instance that gets you thinking about a situation in the movie that is not elaborated on or made clear whatsoever in the play. In the scene where Sister Aloysius and Mrs. Muller are discussing Donald Muller the play goes over the conversation regarding the two in Sister Aloysius’s office and in the movie the first part of the conversation is in Sister Aloysius’s office and then the conversation resumes on a walk to Mrs. Mullers place of employment so she wouldn’t be late for work. During that walk a very important conversation takes place where Sister Aloysius is alluding to the lewd acts she is accusing Father Flynn of and Mrs. Muller reminds Sister Aloysius “it is only until June”. You also wonder why Mrs Muller seems like she is ok with the supposed abuse of her son. But a little later in the conversation things start to make a little bit of sense. Mrs Muller seems to lead the viewer to believe that maybe her son would be beaten if his father heard of the nature of the conversation. Mrs Muller even says things that would lead the viewer to believe that that there is a slight chance that her son might be homosexual. There is a very good chance that might be the reason she seems ok with what was supposedly going on between Donald Muller and Father Flynn. In my opinion abuse is abuse and if father Flynn was in fact abusing the kid his sexual orientation shouldn’t matter.

I am going to move on to the scene where Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn are in the Sisters office. I believe facial features that Father Flynn makes really plays with your mind. He looks appalled but defeated and willing to give up. Which brings me to my next point, why wouldn’t a man that was innocent off accusations fight tooth and nail to prove his innocence? If Father Flynn cared so much about Donald and the rest of the children why didn’t he bring anything up to his superiors, seems to me it would be worth it. This is portrayed in both the book and play but it is the issue that eats at me when I try and form my opinion on what I think went on in that school. To me father Flynn gives up way to easy and that made me think he didn’t want anyone else to know what he was being accused of. In the second conversation between Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn right after the conversation with Mrs. Muller Father Flynn gives his best argument and defends himself very well, but the he concedes. This is a great example to prove my earlier point of the author really wanting you to form your own opinion and experience doubt first hand. I can tell you I am still undecided about it all, and the fact that Sister Aloysius says she has doubt at the end is great and all but does not bring resolve to me, just means she had doubt and that an innocent man may have transferred for nothing.

You cannot blame sister Aloysius for having the thoughts she has, but we can all admit that she could have handled it in a very different manner. As I stated earlier in the paper the movie portrays different sides of Sister Aloysius, but even in her generosity she remains snide and full of animosity. She is very angry for some reason and she doesn’t let go of that anger until the very end of the movie when she breaks down. This is the part of the story that the movie and play both portray well thankfully because it is where the author takes his final stab and thoroughly confusing the hell out of everyone watching.

Father Flynn could have fought her on the matter and eventually the truth would have come out. When I sit and think about it though I don’t believe that this was the vision of John Patrick Shanley. In my opinion is that John Patrick Shanley leads the viewer to form his or her own opinion and to experience the feeling of doubt. I feel that the movie and the book are in most respects very much alike but I think the movie; at least for me made it a lot easier to form an opinion.


Works Cited

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Doubt. By John Patrick Shanley. Dir. ohn Patrick Shanley. 2008.
—. Doubt a Parable. Theatre Communications Group, 2005.

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