The film ‘Doubt’ is derived from the play ‘Doubt: A Parable’ that was written by John Patrick Shanley. The play is about a fictional church in the Bronx, New York, where a Father and some nuns who have differences over the suspicious behavior and relationship between the father and a young alter boy. The play ‘Othello’ is a play by Shakespeare about the kingdom of Cyprus and the lives of the members of the military leadership. The play focuses on Othello, the main character and the protagonist, who is an army general with the army of Cyprus. Sister Aloysius from the movie ‘Doubt’ insists to question the father’s relationship with his alter boy, which eventually causes problems for both her and the father. Iago is an ensign for the general, Othello and he plots with another man, Roderigo, to confuse Othello and win his wife. Both Iago and Sister Aloysius destroy not only their own lives but also the lives of many other people in a quest to satisfy their own selfish needs.
Iago fails to receive a promotion that he thought he deserved from the duke of Cyprus. Michael Cassio receives the promotion to lieutenant and Iago feels very jealous of him. This is seen in act one scene one when Iago tells Roderigo how Othello chose Cassio saying he knew nothing about combat. However, Roderigo has other reasons of being jealous – for Othello’s marriage to Desdemona. He pays Iago to help him win over the love of Desdemona through any means necessary. Iago assures him to do whatever possible to make Roderigo get the love of his life. In the pursuit to satisfy his friend’s lust, Iago deceives Othello and tells him that his wife has an affair with his lieutenant Cassio. This fills both Othello and Cassio with much grief, destroying the relationship they had with one another (Shakespeare, 2008).
Sister Aloysius on the other hand is a nun at a Bronx church where Father Flynn is a priest. After observing awkward behavior from one of the students, another nun sister James informs sister Aloysius about it and they both proceed to confront Father Flynn about the matter. Father Flynn shuns them and tells them to leave the matter to his hands, and informs them that it is a private matter. Sister Aloysius is however persistent with the matter, in pursuit of her personal doubts and vendetta, just like Iago. Her constant and frantic pursuits to reveal what she suspected first ruins the life of Donald, the altar boy, since Father Flynn reveals to them that he had caught Donald drinking alter wine, leading to Donald’s immediate demotion.
Iago continues on his quest to get his friend his desires. Iago and Roderigo, now together, both go to Desdemona’s father, Brabanzio, to inform him of his daughter’s absence from his palace. When Desdemona’s father realizes that Iago and Roderigo’s claims were true he organizes some guards to go and look for Othello. Iago however is a schemer and does not want Othello to doubt him so he hurriedly rushes back to Othello’s service so as not to raise any suspicion. Iago here is seen as a conflict creator and a liar. Just like Aloysius, Iago creates a conflict between Desdemona’s father Brabanzio and Othello for False claims of the abduction of Desdemona; claims that Desdemona later denies and states her willingness in the matter (Shakespeare and Kean, 2009).
Aloysius, just like Iago, is a troublemaker and a conflict creator since she creates a conflict between Sister James and Father Flynn. She does this by sharing her unshakable doubts with Sister James who had already put the matter to rest out of her respect and trust for Father Flynn. She makes Sister James grow suspicious and proceed to ask Father Flynn questions about the shirt she had seen him put in Donald’s Locker. After the further confrontation however, Sister James is given an explanation by Father Flynn that leaves her contented and she drops the matter after her doubts are assuaged (Shanley, 2008).
However, Aloysius’s thirst for knowledge makes her send for Donald’s mother so that she can reveal her suspicions of the homosexual relationship between Father Flynn and Donald that she suspected. This thirst for knowledge and persistence is also seen in Iago when he persistently wants to separate Othello and his wife even after he kills Roderigo. He persists with the story of Desdemona’s infidelity until his own wife Emilia tells Othello the truth and saves the situation. Iago and Aloysius are also seen to love creating conflict. This is seen in various occasions. Iago creates conflict between Desdemona’s father and Othello, between Othello and his wife, between himself and Emilia – his wife, between Cassio and Roderigo and between Roderigo and Cassio. He also causes the deaths of Roderigo, Desdemona, Emilia, Othello and himself.
Sister Aloysius’s persistence of the matter between Father Flynn and Donald causes Father Flynn to be demoted and destroys the relationships between Father Flynn and Sister James, Father Flynn and herself and Father Flynn and Donald. She however seems to act in good faith unlike Iago, who does it all out of malice, personal greed and vengeance. Sister Aloysius, just like Iago lies when she says that she has talked to a nun in Father Flynn’s previous church and the nun collaborated with her story. She later confesses this in guilt and shame. These two feelings of guilt and shame are however not shown by Iago. Iago dies with all his guilt and shame and there is no depiction of any apology that he makes. Sister Aloysius is not also said to have apologized to Father Flynn.
The two characters from the different stories are seen to be active in meddling in matters that do not concern them. However, Iago does it more passionately than Sister Aloysius does and his motives are evil compared to those of Sister Aloysius. The two stories end with both characters suffering greatly for their actions with one of them Iago, paying the ultimate price – with his life and Sister Aloysius feeling complete shame and having her faith shaken.
Shanley, John Patrick. Doubt: A parable. New York, NY: Theatre Communications Group, 2008. Print.
Shakespeare, William. Othello: by William Shakespeare. New York, NY: MobileReference, 2008. Print.
Shakespeare, William, and Kean, Edmund. Othello: A tragedy. Raleigh, NC: T. Rodwell, 2009. Print.