Doubt Exam Study Essay
There are many themes and issues displayed in the play such as power, conflict, change and doubt. These themes have each got their own purpose to create ‘Doubt’ in the minds of the reader. The picture of the wind in the top right corner of the poster is used to symbolise change. This use of symbolism is shown in the play through stage directions “The sound of wind. Sister Aloysius pulls her shawl lightly about her and goes. After a moment, Sister James goes as well”.
The wind storm is a symbol of trouble minds of the characters and troubled times ahead.In particular this windstorm symbolises the mind of Sister James, which is full of confusion and uncertainty after the words of Sister Aloysius. This also foreshadows the future problems that they will encounter in the school. Another theme which is constantly displayed throughout the play is old versus new. This theme is used to depict the context in which the play was set with Sister Aloysius embedded with the ‘old ways’ and Father Flynn embracing the ideas Vatican Two.
This theme is shown on the poster with the juxtaposition of the quill pen and the ballpoint pen in the bottom right corner of the poster.This theme is shown with the quotes “I’m sorry I allowed even cartridge pens into the school. The students really should be only learning script with the fountain pens. Always the easy way out these days. What does that teach? Every easy choice today will have its consequence tomorrow.
Mark my words”. The ballpoint is a symbol of the doubt Sister Aloysius has for change and progression. Her attitudes towards these types of pens opposed to the traditional fountain pen, displays her doubt in the changing nature of society. By far the most prominent theme in the play is doubt.The composer uses many different techniques to create doubt in the readers mind. He does this by using for and against for both Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn without ever giving actual proof.
This is shown with the quote “I have ringed your old parish… and spoken to one of the nuns” from Sister Aloysius. Father Flynn resigns from the school after this only to have Sister Aloysius confess that she never rang the school.
The composer creates even more doubt in the mind of the reader with the final line of the play by Sister Aloysius saying “I have doubts! I have such doubts! “.This creates a distinction in opinion between reasons as people could argue that Father Flynn left because he was guilty as well as arguing that he left to escape the ridicule. With no decisive answer the audience is left with doubt giving the play more impact. Another prominent theme in the play is power. This is shown on the poster with photos on the top left of the poster as well as the picture of the sign post representing the extent that Sister Aloysius will go to, to stop Father Flynn.
Throughout the play it is evident that both Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn are both fighting for the power in the school.This is done with both Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn both fighting to gain followers. This search for power is done by Sister Aloysius by calling Sister James to her office and then convincing her to support her in bringing down Father Flynn. This proves throughout the play to give Sister Aloysius the power over Father Flynn eventually resulting in his resignation. This can be shown with the quote “I will step outside the church if that’s what needs to be done, till the door should shut behind me! I will do what needs to be done, though I’m damned to Hell!You should understand that, or you will mistake me” this quote shows the power in what Sister Aloysius is saying and the power she has over Father Flynn.
Another main theme in the play is conflict. This is shown on the poster with the photo of two people fighting at the top of the poster. The conflict between Father Flynn and Sister Aloysius can been shown with the quote “You haven’t the slightest proof of anything! (Father Flynn) But I have my certainty! And armed with that, I will go to your last parish and the one before that if necessary. I’ll find a parent (Sister Aloysius).This creates suspense for the reader and entices them to read on creating an atmosphere around the play, forcing the reader to weigh up both sides of the argument.
Another use of symbolism in the play is the crow in the garden. This is shown in the stage directions with “The lights cross fade to the garden. A crow caws. Sister James sits on the bench, deep in thought”. The crow foreshadows that something is not right or something’s unwell. Which is shown later in the play when we discover that Sister James is torn between believing Father Flynn is guilty or innocent.
Another use of symbolism in the play is Father Flynn’s long fingernails, how he has three sugars in his tea and how he uses a ballpoint pen. This shows that he doesn’t fit the ‘mould’ of the stereotypical, traditional priest of the traditional Catholic Church. Feathers are also used as symbolism by Father Flynn to represent the rumours Sister Aloysius has created about him. This is used to demonstrate the accusations that Sister Aloysius is accusing father Flynn of and how it is ruining his reputation.