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Doubt

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  13,147 Ratings  ·  312 Reviews
“A superb new drama written by John Patrick Shanley. It is an inspired study in moral uncertainty with the compellingly certain structure of an old-fashioned detective drama. Even as Doubt holds your conscious attention as an intelligently measured debate play, it sends off stealth charges that go deeper emotionally. One of the year’s ten best.”—Ben Brantley, The New York ...more
Paperback, 58 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Theatre Communications Group (first published April 26th 2005)
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Best Plays Ever
44th out of 666 books — 842 voters
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26th out of 197 books — 290 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Carol
Wow! Gripping drama all the way!

I don't read many plays; as a matter of fact, this is only my third one (lame I know) but after reading DOUBT I definitely intend to knock-off a few on my to-read list in 2016.

Set in 1964 at St. Nicholas Catholic Church, this thought-provoking story involving two nuns, a priest and the mother of a young black boy, reads like an intense investigative mystery maintaining a high level of "questionable" suspicion throughout, and the formidable presence of Sister Aloys

...more
Brian Yahn
May 31, 2016 Brian Yahn rated it really liked it
If Doubt taught me anything, it's never mess with a nun.

In what sounds like a total snooze-fest, John Patrick Shanley pits a vetted nun against a questionably liberal priest, and in just a few pages, he creates the exact opposite: a page-turning drama that's more than surface deep. He twists a giant knot of tension by intertwining four highly conflicting desires, none of which are clearly malicious or just.

Doubt makes you doubt every character's motives, question the integrity of their actions,
...more
Bill  Kerwin
Apr 02, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it

A thought-provoking play about the Catholic Church in the 60's that is true to its title by refusing to settle for easy answers.
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
3.5 stars, rounded up.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- reading a play doesn't give you the nuance you get when you participate in or watch a performance. The words are good (and there are some fantastic monologues), but tone and vocal inflection are EVERYTHING.
Tung
Jan 09, 2008 Tung rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
The Pulitzer-prize winning drama for 2005. Set in 1964, Doubt revolves around the head of a Catholic school (Sister Aloysius), one of her teachers (Sister James), and the priest of the school’s church (Father Flynn). Father Flynn is or is not guilty of child abuse; Sister James is or is not a participant in the discovery of the truth; Sister Aloysius is or is not jumping to conclusions based on personal biases – hence, the title of the play. While set in 1964, the play resonates well in the post ...more
Lisa
Well I sunk to an all time low. I sat in B&N today and read this entire play. It wasn't that long; only around 60 pages. At least I bought 4 other books.

Doubt makes you question what you think is true. I recognized myself in some of the passages of this book. In the introduction, the author asks if there has ever been a time when you've argued a point to the point when you question yourself. Do you become blinded by your own convictions?

The play revolved around two nuns, a priest and a youn
...more
William
Jan 31, 2014 William rated it it was amazing
In Scene VII of John Patrick Shanley's "Doubt," Father Flynn admits to Sister James that he fabricated a story he told in a sermon on gossip. "What happens in life is beyond interpretation," he tells her. "The truth makes for a bad sermon. It tends to be confusing and have no clear conclusion."
"Doubt," which was later expanded into an excellent movie, won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for drama in no small part because it adheres to these words.
Father Flynn's is the first voice to confront us, giving
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Doubt: a parable, John Patrick Shanley
عنوان: شک : یک تمثیل (نمایشنامه)؛ اثر: جان پاتریک شنلی؛ برگردان: محمد منعم؛ زیر نظر: محمد منعم؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، نیلا، 1389؛ در 96 ص، شابک: 9786005140880؛ موضوع: نمایشنامه های نویسندگان آمریکایی، قرن 20 م

عنوان: شک : یک تمثیل (نمایشنامه)؛ اثر: جان پاتریک شنلی؛ برگردان: آزاده شاهمیری؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، قطره، 1392؛ در 114 ص، شابک: 9786001196256؛ موضوع: تئاتر و نمایشنامه های نویسندگان آمریکایی، قرن 20 م

داستان نمایشنامه شک درباره راهبهای است که به کشیشی مظنون
...more
Laura Grable
Oct 28, 2010 Laura Grable rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
J.M.
Dec 19, 2015 J.M. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Playwrights-in-training
Shelves: drama, borrowed
December of Drama 2015, day nineteen

"I think of what you do all day
I wonder if what you say is true
You always get what you want
I can't trust you
"
--True Lies, by The New Division

My oh my. This is drama in the truest sense. Tight and intense and honest. It rolls along with the momentum of conflict growing all the time (stakes being raised) and plenty of gasp-inducing moments for the audience. My four star rating doesn't indicate that I think there's anything wrong with the play-- it's flawless. Ma
...more
Eric Kibler
Feb 08, 2015 Eric Kibler rated it really liked it
A priest is suspected of pedophile activity.

Whether he did it or not is not really the focus of this play. Rather, the theme is the way in which doubt plays upon the human mind, for good or for ill.

That doesn't mean you can't discuss whether or not you feel Father Flynn did it. But the larger grappling with existential doubt is what makes this play more mature and unsettling than the average Afterschool Special.
Rahil
Dec 02, 2015 Rahil rated it liked it
Well,the cover misled me -_- ! I thought it would be about marriage, husband-and-wife Doubts, lovers' doubt , CHEATING ! not PAEDOPHILIA in the middle of a Catholic-Church(& school) run by IRON-Nun! She's been really an Iron-nun ! like Sister James said : "I wish I could be like you " ! Her confidence is impressing ! She didn't even proven to herself that Father Flynn is guilty, yet she got what she wanted and she got him out of the school ! BUT , we ALL do have DOUBTS ! Even Iron-Nun when s ...more
Mj
Apr 03, 2016 Mj added it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2015
I read Doubt, A Parable, as part of a book challenge. It was a 2005 Pulitzer Prize Winner in the category of drama. While short in terms of pages, it is long with respect to impact, creating tension and provoking thought – quite masterful really for so few words.

As a drama, the book is 99% dialogue interspersed with stage directions. It features only four characters. And yet, the author is able to craft a tightly written mystery filled with interest and drama. It reads very much like an absorbin
...more
HRH
May 14, 2015 HRH rated it it was ok
Maybe reading the book is different from seeing it performed but I really don't feel a lot of doubt; I think that Sister Aloysius made an obviously false accusation. Yes, there were moments when I thought the play write was going to give me reason to doubt and then it just didn't pan out. Mostly I'm going off of Donald's behavior - he just doesn't present like an abuse victim because Father Flynn's explanation of what happened aligns with Donald's behavior and Mrs. Muller says that she's noticed ...more
Abby
Sep 09, 2013 Abby rated it liked it
Shelves: plays, pulitzer
I wish this book had been as mind-blowing for me as it is for so many others. It's gotten wonderful reviews from critics and audiences and readers; it's got a Pulitzer. I did not care for it very much. It was very short; it could have been longer and more involved. It could have made me doubt more. Ever read Life of Pi? It's a book about faith, but it makes you second-guess everything; it makes you doubt. So, having had experience with doubt-inducing stories, I expected more.
It is well-written,
...more
Bandit
Feb 18, 2015 Bandit rated it really liked it
I liked the movie well enough, but the source material was tremendously impressive. Shanley has managed to convey a terrific amount of complex conflicting human emotions in such a slender volume. It is a clever morality play (no pun intended) of the highest order made all the more profound by its ambiguity. Really top of the line as far as explorations of the fallibility of human nature go. Highly recommended.
M.R. Rutter
Aug 16, 2016 M.R. Rutter rated it it was amazing
An amazing book. It's content and plot revolving around the controversies of the Catholic clergy in boy's schools and the fear that one teacher has committed the unspeakable. As her doubts mount, those in power keep working to destroy the priest. It's a powerfully disturbing story that is so gripping you can't put it down.
Bill
Jul 21, 2016 Bill rated it liked it
Shelves: in-library
I checked a bunch of plays out of the library because it's a form I've never really delved into. Doubt is the first of the bunch I read. Since I don't have much history reading plays I don't have much to compare off the bat. However I did see the movie adaptation and I'm a sucker for all things doing with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
The interplay between the three central characters and how they approached such an awful subject was riveting. The desire to conform to their vows and not
...more
Kristine
Feb 07, 2009 Kristine rated it liked it
Shelves: drama
Drama--Set in 1964 in the Bronx at a Catholic school/parish in an Italian- and Irish-American neighborhood, Doubt revolves around whether a well-liked and less-conservative priest has been abusing an altar boy in the school, who happens to be the first and only black student. There are four characters: the priest, the boy's mother, a young nun who is the boy's teacher, and an older nun who is the principal of the school. The nun/principal has no doubt of the priest's guilt, even though he denies ...more
Sherry (sethurner)
I was fascinated by this play, which is not so much about priests who molest children as it is about the specific character of a priest and two nuns at a Catholic grade school in 1964. There is a priest who wants to be modern, wants to be friends with students, a young nun who is much the same, and an older nun who is basically a very suspicious and rigid person. To me, the struggle between the priest and the nun is as much about power as it is about possible inappropriate relationships. I loved ...more
Julia
I reread this play, because I have been cast as the bitter, old nun Sister Aloysius in our community theater production of it next month, that I have been championing that we do for several years. It’s an amazing play. It’s a four person play, with Sister Aloysius in five of the nine scenes. It’s 1964 and Sister Aloysius doesn’t approve of the way a young nun and young-ish priest want to be liked by their students and parishioners, so she sets out to destroy them. I have had several administrato ...more
Potassium
Jan 04, 2009 Potassium rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
Read this after seeing the recent film. I actually felt that the book helped solidify my feelings about the story and as to whether or not the accused priest was guilty of the suggested crime. I thought this was a beautifully written story designed to make you think about all those times you were totally sure about something only to realize that when you really thought about it, you actually weren't.
I also really enjoyed the forward to this edition, especially the last paragraph. I thought it w
...more
Chris
Jul 30, 2016 Chris rated it really liked it
The author built the tension in the scenes throughout the play really well. It reads like a trial with many of the scenes feeling like interrogations or the questioning of a witness and an accused. The human truth of doubt is what makes this play most compelling, in addition to the amazing performances, which I saw in the film version of the play. The actors bring out the anguish of dealing with such a terrible accusation in a way that is less accessible in just reading the play. The play mainta ...more
Adam
Sep 02, 2015 Adam rated it really liked it
In the preface to his 2004 play, John Patrick Shanley claims we as a society have moved from a culture of celebrity worship to one of courtroom drama. We debate, pass judgment, stand with conviction, and invite confrontation as a way of enforcing a greater cultural understanding of "good" and "evil." We do this, Shanley says, "because deep down under the chatter we have come to a place where we know that we don't know...anything. But nobody's willing to say that."

This is the crux of Doubt, a tau
...more
Aj Sterkel
Apr 21, 2015 Aj Sterkel rated it really liked it
Shelves: play
This review is of the stage play script. In 2008, the stage play was adapted in to a movie that stars Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis.

Doubt is a deceptively simple story: a nun at a Catholic school believes that a priest is having inappropriate contact with a student. The nun has no evidence to back up her accusations against the priest, but her instincts are telling her that something is wrong. The play is set in 1960s New York and confronts the issues of race,
...more
Malak Alrashed
Dec 27, 2014 Malak Alrashed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot remember at any point in my life wanting to read a contemporary play. My experience with plays revolves around Shakespeare, Wilde, and some Greek ones. So, I thought I wouldn't take this one seriously, I was wrong. I enjoyed every scene and every dialogue.

Doubt is a story of a nun who suspects her priest of abusing one of the altar boys. Simply put. but carefully reading it, it's more about purity, power, and conviction. The words flow like poetry, every line is quotable. Really well-wr
...more
Carrotcakie
Sep 23, 2014 Carrotcakie rated it liked it
Very cool and short play

Main characters were: two nuns, Sister James and Sister Aloysius, Father Flynn, and Donald Muller.

Basic summary: Sister Aloysius, a very traditional and strict nun, is convinced that Father Flynn is homosexual and is having inappropriate relationships with the school's first African American student, Donald Muller. By the end, we learn that Father Flynn was having inappropriate relationships, or maybe that he knew he was doing something that was definitely against the no
...more
Brittany Nguyen
Dec 08, 2014 Brittany Nguyen rated it liked it
This was an amazing play. It made me question and DOUBT my opinion on if the priest is actually guilty. I really hate Sister Aloysious. She is like one of those evil Sisters in the movies. I am starting to get more and more into plays and I am excited to watch the movie version.
Sharon
Dec 15, 2015 Sharon rated it liked it
The preface is powerful, here's a little extract:

"There is an uneasy time when belief has begun to slip but hypocrisy has yet to take hold, when the consciousness is disturbed but not yet altered. It is the most dangerous, important, and ongoing experience of life. The beginning of change is the moment of Doubt. It is that crucial moment when I renew my humanity or become a lie."

This is a short play, approximately 60 pages long, and with only four characters: A young priest in his thirties (Fat
...more
Victoria
Nov 15, 2015 Victoria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays, religion
Doubt was a short and quick read. It dealt with a lot of issues, though. The play takes place in a small Catholic school in New York in the '60s. It begins with a sermon from Father Flynn, one about doubt and losing one's way. The next characters we meet are Sister Aloysius and Sister James. Sister Aloysius is an older, more cynical nun who believes that the Church has all the answers and that students should be seen, not heard. She's definitely stricter and more old-school than Sister James who ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: # 8 - Doubt 1 2 Feb 05, 2015 04:19PM  
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Shanley was born in The Bronx, New York City, to a telephone operator mother and a meat-packer father. He is a graduate of New York University, and is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre.

For his script for the 1987 film, Moonstruck, Shanley won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.

In 1990, Shan
...more
More about John Patrick Shanley...

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“Doubt requires more courage than conviction does, and more energy; because conviction is a resting place and doubt is infinite – it is a passionate exercise. You may come out of my play uncertain. You may want to be sure. Look down on that feeling. We’ve got to learn to live with a full measure of uncertainty. There is no last word. That’s the silence under the chatter of our time. ” 30 likes
“If I could, Sister James, I would certainly choose to live in innocence. But innocence can only be wisdom in a world without evil. Situations arise and we are confronted with wrongdoing and the need to act.” 16 likes
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