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Doubt, A Parable: Characters | Setting | Themes

ENGL 1302 with Suzy Page


(Photo from the Gale Virtual Reference Library.)

Sister Aloysius: The principal, Sister Aloysius Beauvier, is in her fifties or sixties. She is watchful, reserved, and unsentimental .

Sister James: She is in her twenties. There’s a bit of sunshine in her heart, though she’s reserved.

Father Flynn: A priest, Father Flynn, in his late thirties. He is working class, from the Northeast.

Mrs. Muller:   Donald Muller's Mother. Mrs. Muller, a black woman of about thirty eight. She’s on red alert.

-Stage Directions Doubt






(Photo by: edenpictures on Flickr)

Doubt, a Parable,

The story takes place in 1964 in a Catholic school in the Bronx, New York . It begins when uncertainty strikes Sister James, a young sister who recently started teaching at the school. She is concerned that the relationship between a priest, Father Flynn and a student may have become inappropriate and confides this fear to the principal, Sister Aloysius. Learning this concern, Sister Aloysius becomes determined to find out the truth about what happened and to protect the boy.

-Stage Directions Doubt


  • Concept of Doubt
  • Oppression of Women
  • Skepticism versus faith
  • Traditional versus progressive attitudes to education
  • The significance of parables in literature
  • Abuses of power
  • Religious repression 
  • Doubt vs. Certainty
  • Child Abuse in the Church
  • 1960s Setting (modern growth, upheaval and revolution)
  • Loss of Innocence
  • Faith, truthfulness, reason, sensibility
  • Determination to do what's right at any cost.
  • Liberal vs. Conservative attitudes in Teaching & The Church

This information is found from the websites below:

Advice to Writers from John Patrick Shanley

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