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 muck. (Clifford) One of Channels cousins accused a clergyman of sexual abuse, and Channel revealed in a 2004 interview with Robert CEO 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 Dads) In an era where condemnation of he Catholic priesthood ran rampant, Channel 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 Allusion 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.. Mueller is the mother of Donald Mueller who is claimed to be the victim of Father Nanny’s alleged infraction. Though the children are widely discussed, there are none to be seen and therefore no context for which to place the alleged interactions within. Our play opens directly into Father Flan’s sermon regarding doubt and how uncertainty can bring a group of people together in a way much like faith.
The downside to this is that doubt can also isolate in a way that faith does not. And of course, his immediately sets the mind of our protagonist to wondering, “What is it that Father Flynn doubts? ‘ Sister Allusion is a brittle woman who is convinced of her own righteousness for no other reason than she is who she is. She berates a young nun, Sister James, for enjoying the history that she teaches, for believing the best in other, and for wanting her students to enjoy her class. Sister Allusion says to Sister James “Innocence is a form of laziness. (Channel) Sister Allusion advises Sister James to keep a vigilant eye out for anything that may kick out Of place, and yet gives no reason for doing so. She is planting a seed of suspicion in Sister James using religious piety much the same as Ago did in Othello under the guise of friendship. Sister James comes back to Sister Allusion with questions regarding Flan’s private conversation with student Donald Mueller, an African American student drifting along in an ocean of Irish and Italian families. Father Flynn appears to have taken an interest in Donald as a protector of sorts amongst the other boys.
When Donald returns to Sister James’ class he appears out of sorts and has a distinct smell of “alcohol on his breath. (Channel) Sister Allusion immediately jumps to conclusions regarding the circumstances and never once backs down from her allegations. The motions set forth for the rest of the play start right here as she says “l knew it. ” (Channel) Sister Allusion determines then and there to “take down” Father Flynn and nothing will stand in her way. Though Sister James rebuffs Sister Allusion’ suspicions to begin with, she is drawn as a pawn into the cat and mouse game that Sister Allusion is determined to win.
When called down to Sister Allusion’ office, seemingly for he purpose of discussing the school Christmas pageant, Father Flynn is caught off guard by the quick gear change into an interrogation by Sister Allusion. He is justifiably upset by her seemingly baseless allegations. When pushed into a corner, he reveals that the private conversation between himself and Donald revolved around the boy being caught drinking the altar wine and Father Flan’s attempt to keep him out of trouble. Though Sister James is apparently satisfied by his explanation, Sister Allusion refuses to believe and continues her persecution.
The next scene shows us Father Flynn preaching a sermon about the evils of gossip including a visual tale comparing gossip to feathers tossed freely into the wind. Once the feathers take flight, there is no catching them all. In the garden, Father Flynn and Sister James discuss the sermon, and the coldness of Sister Allusion. When Sister James asks whether or not he is guilty, Father Flynn tells her “The most innocent actions can appear sinister to the poisoned mind. ” (Channel) Father Flan’s monologue is emphatic in regards to bringing love and light into the life of his congregation.
He is adamant that there is nothing wrong with showing love to people and advises Sister James to not let Sister Allusion kill her light. After Sister Allusion meets with Mrs.. Mueller and is told by Mrs.. Mueller that she would rather have a man take interest in her son and do some good with whatever possible bad, than to have only her husband’s beatings for Donald to look forward to. At first she seems to not understand what Sister Allusion is hinting out, until the Sister comes right out and says that she suspects an inappropriate relationship going on between the priest ND the boy.
Then Mrs.. Mueller throws a twist out there regarding ‘the boys nature”. An implication that if anything inappropriate was to be going on, he may well have been more the seducer than the seduced. Ultimately, Sister Allusion must use cunning and trickery to get rid of Father Flynn as she had craved. As they stand in her office in one Of the final scenes, he tells her he will fight her and that he has done nothing wrong. When asked why she believes so strongly of his guilt, she tells him that from her window, she saw him grab Jimmy Loon’s hand and the child pulled away.
There is no context for this, no reason given as to why, so Father Flynn tells her he is done with the conversation and will be having her removed. She lies and tells him that she has contacted a nun from his previous parish that has claimed something untoward occurred at that location as well. At this point is when we see Father Flynn just giving up. He never acknowledges any wrong doing, it just appears that he resigns himself to the fact that Sister Allusion will do whatever she can to ruin him, even with no proof. Sister James walks up to
Sister Allusion in the garden and asks about Father Flynn leaving. Sister Allusion tells her that the fact that he resigned was proof of his guilt, never taking in to consideration that had he stayed and fought, even innocence proven would not have saved his reputation from the slander and that she would have ultimately destroyed him anyway. When Sister James once again acknowledges her belief in Father Flan’s innocence, we see a shaken Sister Allusion who has steadfastly pursued this end and suddenly, “l have doubts, I have such doubts. ” This is where Channel leaves us.
When Channel took the opportunity to rewrite the award winning play into a vessel for the silver screen, he took some liberties within in his own work that brought the story more to life, and yet confounded the audience that much more. When we open into the film, we see a boy waking up to get ready for mass. Children were completely missing from the play, so this change is drastic but helps to give more insight into the activities. Donald Miller, changed from Mueller in the play for unknown reasons, walks into the sacristy to prepare for altar duties and asks his fellow altar boy, “Do I look fat?
This line is not in the play, so we have to wonder what the purpose for it is. We get to see Donald eyeing the altar wine before Mass. A majority of the major dialogue is verbatim from the play, yet it is the small differences that change so very much. In the play it is discussed where Father Flynn grabbed a boys, Jimmy London, arm only to have it pulled away. Here we see that Father Flynn is actually chastising the boy for dirty nails, not attempting some provocative maneuver on the boy. We are shown that the boy has a bad attitude and is prone to physical acts, ouch as grabbing a nun, or pulling away from a priest.