Please use the Norton Introduction to Literature by Kelly Mays as the only source for the essay. The essay will focus on Doubt by John Patrick Shanley. The play provides no easy answers to all the hard questions and difficult issues it raises. There is nothing definitive about the outcome and we are left, perhaps, with more questions than answers. That, of course, is Shanley’s point. In the preface he talks about certainty as resting place, a place where no further movement is required. His play provides no certainty and forces us to continue to question and “move”.
Shanley gave a subtitle to this play A Parable. A parable is a brief story used to illustrate a point or teach a lesson. In class we discussed Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son and who the intended audience actually was for that story. Father Flynn uses modern stories in his sermons in the play the man lost at sea and the woman and the pillow to illustrate the core of his message. Shanley clearly indicated that he wanted his play to be thought of in this way as a message, as a lesson.
For this essay you will need to posit a claim as to what the lesson is that we (as audience) are supposed to learn from this parable. You may (and should) use the whole play, including the preface, to develop a response to this prompt. Your response should be backed up with quotes from the play and careful, thoughtful analysis of what we are supposed to do after the curtain has dropped. Do not trust the obvious “Don’t lie”, etc… as the message, look at all the aspects of this work and determine what lesson it teaches us about how to live.
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