Doubt
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Doubt

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  9,803 ratings  ·  247 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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Hamlet by William ShakespeareThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar WildeMacbeth by William ShakespeareRomeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareA Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Best Plays Ever
45th out of 511 books — 654 voters
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Best American Plays
22nd out of 180 books — 242 voters


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Community Reviews

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Tung
Jan 09, 2008 Tung rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Laura Williams
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
William
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
Abby
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
Kristine
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
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
Nancy Kotkin
Set in a Catholic school in the Bronx during the turmoil of the 1960s, this drama explores doubt and conviction. A nun is convinced, albeit without concrete evidence, that the parish priest is molesting the school's only black student. The priest continually insists he is innocent, which only incites the nun to increasingly precarious heights in her attempts to prove that she is right.

All four characters are complex and well developed. The setting mirrors the swirling tensions inside the charact...more
Suzette Kunz
I love this play. It's set in a Catholic school in the 1960s. The principal, a nun, suspects a priest of molesting one of the boys and sets out to get rid of him. She has no actual evidence but is determined that her instinct is right. It raises some interesting questions and is well written.
Jake
Dec 21, 2009 Jake rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: drama
Since John Patrick Shanley penned two of my all-time favorite screenplays, Moonstruck and Joe vs. the Volcano, I’m inclined to look favorably on any new efforts of his. However, feeling a bit of media fatigue over the issue of priest molestation scandals, I wasn’t looking forward to reading this play. Still, Mr Shanley wrote Moonstruck, so I gave Doubt a try. And I was more than satisfied.

Doubt is a great play, intelligently conceived and begging to be put on its feet by good actors and director...more
Jill
It's been a very long time since I've been made to think that much about what I've just read. Powerful? Very. Moments of amusement, for me, came in the sermons. How simply such lessons are presented (example: the feathers as gossip). Heartbreaking was the moment with Mrs. Muller, where not only do you find out her husband beats their son, but that the son is gay. Only, for me, that wasn't what was heartbreaking: it was that Mrs. Muller accepted what she had been given, worked with it, and seemed...more
Mad Dog
This is a killer play that packs quite a wallop in a short story. When critics say there isn't a wasted word, I agree with them. It took me about 40 mins to read this play. This book contains the 'screenplay' for the original play that showed on Broadway.

The conflicts in this play are deep, real, relevant, and endlessly discussable. I bother my wife wanting to talk about this play. She is 'going through' a conflict that contains some similarities to the main conflict of this play. We all go thr...more
Sydney
So was assigned this play for school in my English Comp 2 class, and was surprised that I actually liked reading it. It showed the doubt in ones faith and the corrupt ways people can go out of line within the church just to get what they want even if it means ruining a person and everything they have. For school we were asked to pick the protagonist of the story and I was torn. The text book definition for protagonist was 'the character who you see most and are privileged to see in most of the s...more
Sam Ruddick
i saw the film and thought it was quite well done. the play itself--as a reading experience--seemed a bit wooden. without the actors to bring the characters to life, it seemed to me that the characters represented ideas, or ideological positions, or effigies of attitudes, banging against one another without much in the way of real humanity, at least not the kind of complicated humanity i'm generally looking for in a fictional character (or, for that matter, a real person). with talented actors,...more
Neil
finally read it. having experienced 12 years of catholic school, from '77-'89,
this story fascinates me, because the minds of my classmates and myself
developed while navigating between a few young, optimistic nuns and a majority
of strict older ones, who seemed ironically jaded without having experienced
much of what they abhor. (minor tangent: corporal punishment aside, my sense
is that secular schools tend to have less older teachers?) despite all of this,
an agnostic/athiest like myself would stil...more
Jamilla Rice
So, I saw the film version over the holiday break in 2008 and was in love. I immediately let the theater, walked down the block to the Barnes and Noble which is no longer in Squirrel Hill (dammit!) and bought the play. I read it that night and loved Shanley even more. What an artist, wordsmith, world crafter. Anyone studying play writing MUST read this play. It is a true example of the beauty of a play's economy, how so much can be said with so little words. When you do read this, be sure to rea...more
Robert Beveridge
John Patrick Shanley, Doubt (Theatre Communications Group, 2005)

Made into a film a few years ago that many raved about. I haven't seen it yet, because I was waiting until I read the play. Well, now I've read the play, and I don't know why I'm surprised about this, but what I was expecting given the trailers for the film and what I got are two entirely different things. It should go without saying, naturally, but that was quite a pleasant surprise. I've had some bad run-ins with Pulitzer-winning...more
Resa
Inspired by the shocking revelations of priest-abuse scandals Doubt is the story of a nun who suspects her parish priest of abusing one of the altar boys. The nun, Sister Aloysius, is overcome with feelings of doubt, knowing she will be unable to bring Father Flynn to justice and unsure of her own suspicions and the faith she is supposed to have in the priest. Finally Sister Aloysius confronts Father Flynn herself, and while she wins a small victory for her school is unable to put an end to Fath...more
Christian Engler
Sometimes a media blitzkrieg on a particular issue, in this case, the unraveling clergy sex scandal within the Catholic Church, can be so over dominant to the extreme that the genuine horror of its totality and those directly and indirectly affected, can regrettably seem like an unreality, a movie scene where human detachment is at its strongest. Where the media oftentimes fails to evoke a mood of empathy and personal involvement to what they are reporting--as they are covering facts--art, parti...more
Chuck
I picked up this book as the result of my effort to read as many Pulitzer prize winning efforts as possible. This play won the prize for drama in 2005. It became a successful play and later a film starring Meryl Streep. When I opened the book the first page indicated that this is a parable. As a grown adult I should certainly know the technical definition of that term, so I won't admit to looking it up in my Webster's dictionary. However, if you did look it up it would say "A simple story illust...more
Naomi
Doubt is one of the many movies from 2008 that I am dying to see,with an all star cast including Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. But before I see that movie, I had to read the book first. My high expectations were not shunned at all. This is one of the best plays I have ever read. The only complaint that I have is that it is too short! The plot got more interesting as the book progressed, and the ending was one of those endings that just suprised you, and you have the utmost respect fo...more
Abraham
Apr 16, 2008 Abraham rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people into straight drama, pedophiliac priests
Shelves: theater
An interesting play, one which is extremely self-contained and which attempts to create a level world of uncertainty in a time when the general public is awash in certainty at the guilt of the clergy in terms of sexual abuse.

Most of the characters are generally archetypal, neither changing nor learning, but are set in motion to allow us to see how the world works out. In the New vs. Old system (which is nearly the same as the Orthodox vs. Reformed) Flynn represents the new and Aloysius the Old....more
Samantha
Apr 12, 2009 Samantha rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Samantha by: Naomi
Before reading this play, I heard about the movie that was in theaters after my parents had gone to see it. They really enjoyed the film and when I saw my friend Naomi reading the play one day in school, I asked for a recommendation, and she told me that I must read "Doubt" immediately. Once I began to read this play, I instantly became intrigued because of my love for the play format and because of the multifaceted nature of this story. This play begins with the introduction of the setting bein...more
Lisa Feld
One of the things I love in plays that fiction can't do nearly as well is when the author pits two different characters against each other and doesn't give you enough information to come down clearly on one side or the other. No access to their thoughts or their private deeds, just what's shown. Is this the story of a pedophile priest caught out by a perceptive nun, or the story of a nun who is so afraid of change that she starts a witch hunt to destroy an innocent man because he dares to shake...more
Steven
While I enjoy the lingering mystery that the movie left me with, I anxiously read this play to try and suss out any more telling details about what is really going on with these characters. Now I think that the movie might be a little more ambiguous than the play. The movie offered more details than the play, like the gym shirt, and since it wasn’t part of the play, it kind of makes me think that it was a red herring. I had heard in interviews that Shanley has a full story in his mind about Fath...more
Samantha Mccoy
The book basically shows how one's belief into what is truth, regardless of proof can harm others. Regardless of how others do not believe the allegations of one determined woman who goes against the chain of command to get her way, she still does all she can to have someone removed. In order for anyone reading this play to make a fair judgment on Father Flynn and a section at the end of the play that had many readers in my 20th Century American Drama class believing he is guilty, brush up on th...more
Phillip
This is a really brilliant play in the way that it actually delivers on the promise of its title. Not only do the characters never get a resolution (with the exception, of course, of Father Flynn who actually knows whether he molested Donald Muller), but the audience isn't given strong enough evidence one way or the other to come to a decisive conclusion about what happened. The conflict between Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn is really excellently balanced, leaving the audience in as much doub...more
Luke
A very well-written play. Simple but deceptively deep. The dialogue and characters are polished and nuanced. Scripts like this make for intellectually stimulating theatre: simple set, small cast, hard-hitting dialogue and (hopefully) good acting. It definitely reminds me of a Pinter play in its simple depth.

The only real detraction that I can think of is the preface that Shanley writes. He waxes philosophical and it lessened my enjoyment of his play. I think I would've enjoyed "Doubt" much more...more
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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
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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. ” 27 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.” 10 likes
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