Doubt Is A Drama Film
Doubt is a drama film that took place in the 1960s in a Catholic Church school (Ruden Shanley, 2008). The plot of the movie was to find out whether Father Flynn was having inappropriate relationship with first African-American male student at the school, Donald. The main characters of the movie are Sister Aloysius Mrs. Miller, Sister James and Father Flynn. Sister James, who was Donald’s teacher, was the first person to question the relationship between Father Flynn and Donald. She informed sister Aloysius, which initiated an ongoing investigation throughout the play. The school principal Sister Aloysius works hard in carrying out the investigation to enable the removal of father Flynn. Towards the end of the movie, sister Aloysius made Father Flynn to step down from the church, however she appears to doubt at a great level after gaining victory (Ruden Shanley, 2008).
Utilitarianism and Justice as Fairness are two ethical principles that are evident in the film. The principle of fairness Justice as fairness states that each person has equal rights to the same basic liberties for all (Jonson, 2012). This principle protects the rights such as right to vote, right to own property and freedom of speech.
The second principle of Justice for fairness forbids discrimination based on gender ethnicity and race (Jonson, 2012). It further states that everyone should have equal right to education and training. In the play we see priority given to less fortunate, minorities’ immigrants (Jonson, 2012). The veil of ignorance is when group numbers are ignorant of their societal or characteristic, is another characteristic of Justice and Fairness as it is used when making moral decisions (Jonson, 2012). The less fortunate often benefit from the “veil of ignorance” because decisions are not based on social class (Jonson, 2012). Utilitarianism is evident throughout the drama. It is based on the idea that ethical choices should be based on their consequences (Jonson, 2012). The objective of utilitarianism is to do the greatest good to the greatest number of people.
Sister James found Donald’s t-shirt in the locker she had opened. She never told Sister Aloysius during the rest of the drama narrative however she is puzzled in the dramatic version, Sister James got more information to help her in her judgment of the priest behavior. We don’t know why she didn’t tell Sister Aloysius about the facts but Father Flynn credentials were already shaken and she could not trust him as before. Another important thing to note is the color of Donald’s t-shirt. It is white which means innocence and purity of the boy and now it was in the hands of Father Flynn (Ruden Shanley, 2008). This brings in the matter of how religious were both Father Flynn and Donald.
The first ethical and moral dilemma occurs during a conference with Sister Aloysius when she was asked about the black student, Donald Miller. Sister James is duty-bound to tell what she has witnessed in reference to Father Flynn. This event happens earlier in the week. Till the time she had begun discussing Donald Miller with Sister Aloysius, Sister James had not questioned the boy being or call him to the rectory for a talk with the priest.
The second ethical dilemma occurs in the follow up conference with Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn, Sister James wavers. After listening to father Flynn’s explanation about Donald Miller, Sister James wanted to pursue what best for the boy versus sticking to the rules. Professionalism is brought into question here. She also experiences a relief about a state and situation that she believes the priest. Later, in a conversation with Father Flynn, Sister James seeks confirmation about several suspicious events and agrees to his explanation. She does so while still his behaviors were questionable; she still accepts what he said.
Finally, Sister James attempts to stand up to sister Aloysius based on her values and beliefs. She recognizes that there has no real proof and states that she will not be part of Sister Aloysius’ campaign to get rid of Father Flynn. While Sister James is passionate about her students and history, she accepted passively. Instead of staying and supporting the priest, Sister James remains loyal to sisterhood and goes visiting her sick brother. Upon her returning she gets Father Flynn had been promoted and he had moved out of St. Nicholas. Whether she had caused harm to another person raises doubts.
The ethical and moral direction in this drama is that we are not always aware about the extent of our doubts. Louis (1967) stated that if we trust we subscribe to certain ideologies and suddenly we find ourselves acting against the things we believe, this is the symptom that we are exposed to more ideologies that we accept are true. Shanley (2005) posits that each of us is like a planet. There’s the crust, which seems eternal. We are confident about who we are. If, you ask we can easily describe our current state. As a consequence, uncertainty plays a main role in our perception of the world. This is the archetype of our days. But what is the role of individuality in this massively globalized society? What is true and what is not? What is doubt? Shanley’s work poses these questions (Louis, 1967).
While Sister Aloysius’ influence on Sister James is converting, Sister Aloysius overtly tries to manipulate the boy’s mum. In both cases Sister Aloysius takes action. In either case, leaders need to be cognizant on the influence they posses on their subordinate. Given the right situation leader, a person could be manipulated. Leaders should not use their power to influence, or manipulate subordinate. This kind of behavior is not ethical.
Father Flynn takes a different approach. He encounters a subordinate who acts inappropriately. Instead, he chooses not to act on this inappropriate behavior even though he has the power to fire and discipline. This is in stark contrast to sister Aloysius Action. Ethically or morally one should say that Father Flynn should fight Sister Aloysius action;’ allegation. Others may argue that by, by sacrificing himself for the greatest good, he was practicing Utilitarianism (Jonson, 2012). If, he is truly innocent and then he is justified then he is a great leader. Great leader have always to act ethically even in tough situations.
Sister Aloysius decides on the course of action because she dislikes someone who differs with her. Her course of action goes against proper protocol and her vows as a nun in the Roman Catholic Church. Though it is commendable for someone to fight for what she feels is right no matter what the cost, Kant Categorical Imperative (Jonson, 2012). There is no evidence to support her accusations. This makes her to act out of emotion. It is unethical for leaders to make decisions out of emotion as this is unprofessional and unethical.
As the movie ends, Sister Aloysius stated that she had doubts. Someone is left wondering what these doubt were. She appeared to have internal struggles throughout the film based on her observations of Father Flynn, the content of his sermons and the lack of support she received with having the Father removed. She has doubts how she had handled the entire investigation which was not her profession. Sister Aloysius may also have doubts about her faith based on depth she took have the Father removed. In spite of the doubts she succeeded in having what she wanted following the Utilitarianism principle and having Father Flynn step down.