For a start - this is a very long essay - read over and take note of the time you spend on the plot!
The opening of the film Doubt serves as a way for Director John Patrick Shanley to establish the characters Father Flynn and Sister Aloysius through assumptions good start based on preconceptions about Nuns and Priests. When Shanley establishes the characters Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn in such a way that we make assumptions about them only to reveal how inaccurate these assumptions are later in the film, we are made to doubt our judgment and feel uncertain in order to understand Shanley’s purpose, as said himself, of learning “to live with a full measure of uncertainty”. Shanley does this through the use of language features such as actor’s performance, dialogue and camera shots. Good link to purpose
In the opening scene of the film “Doubt”, the director Shanleythink about using judgement words here eg effectively, cleverly etc utilises camera shots and dialogue to introduce the character of Father Flynn.
Throughout the scene, what shots??? shots show the congregation as they listen to Father Flynn homily and through the performances of the actors and actresses of those in the crowd, the audience is shown the congregation’s attentive and captivated reactions to give the audience the impression that Father Flynn is admired, respected and a good priest that can captivate people in his teachings of God. Father Flynn is further established as a good priest through the use of dialogue in his sermon when Father Flynn uses the example of the recent John.F.Kennedy shooting (at the setting of the film in 1960 America) as something that is “a travesty” but also a thing that unites Americans to show how doubting things, including religious faith, is a uniting experience. This dialogue shows the audience how Father Flynn can use modern examples to help his audience relate to his religious messages which helps establish Father Flynn as a good priest and a man with the times in the audience’s minds. It’s easy for the audience to assume **good point!**that Father Flynn is a good man because he is a good priest because this preconception reflects society at the time as priests in 1960 America were well respected in their communities.
Shanley introduces Father Flynn through these techniques during a sermon to allow audiences to make assumptions of his character based on the audience’s previous perceptions of priests. For example, when certain viewers see how Father Flynn is a good priest they might assume that he is automatically a good role model because that’s what they associate with priests as they are men who are high up in the church who preach about God’s teachings, standing for righteousness and abolishing sin. Thus Father Flynn’s character as an admired priest and a good role model is established through the audience being made to make assumptions which is part of Shanley’s purpose. a little repetitive - but a good point made
Another character established in the opening scene is Sister Aloysius.
The first shot of Sister Aloysius in the film is a mid-shot of her back as she gets up from listening to Father Flynn’s sermon to pace the aisles. Through the use of a mid-shot, the audience is only shown the back of her dark cloaked figure and dark nun’s habit to match as she slowly leaves her seat to prowl the pews. This introduces Sister Aloysius to the audience as a faceless, black, hooded figure and makes the audience assume that Sister Aloysius is a menacing, dark and intimidating presence. so costume is important too
This combined with the use of the actor’s performance of those playing the children as Sister Aloysiuswalks past and slaps a misbehaving boy’s head, further establishes Sister Aloysius as a harsh person. Through the scared reactions of the children who suddenly start sitting up straight, eyes wide and daring not to move when Sister Aloysius walks past, the audience is made to assume that she is someone to be feared and is harsh and uncaring towards children.
The fact that Shanley did not show Sister Aloysius’ face until she was about to tell off the last child, forced the audience to focus on her actions rather than her emotions. This was done not only to erase her humanity and accentuate her cruelness but also to emphasise the audience is invited to make assumptions about Sister Aloysius’ character based on outward appearances and without knowing the full story of her life or even emotions in the moment.
Just like he did for Father Flynn, Shanley is introducing Sister Aloysius through these techniques and the setting of a church so that the audience relies on its prior knowledge and preconceptions of nuns to fill in the gaps of Sister Aloysius that we weren’t shown and base assumptions of her character off of. For example, some people who watch doubt who have previous knowledge of nuns being unnecessarily harsh or even abusive to children might think Sister Aloysius is also that way just because she is a nun.
Thus, Shanley establishes Sister Aloysius as a mean nun who is harsh to children using mid shots and actor’s performance **and costume ** in the opening scene and again Shanley sets the audience up by making them make assumptions about Sister Aloysius to later convey his purpose of doubting these assumptions.
At later points **when???**in the film, Shanley shows characteristics of Father Flynn and Sister Aloysius that conflict with how they were established in the beginning.
In a later scene where Father Flynn is having dinner with two other male high church authorities, through mise en scene of the props used the audience is shown the lavish items of Father Flynn’s meal which include cigarettes, rare bloody steak, multiple wine glasses and many complementary dishes to the meal. By showing his pleasure-seeking qualities, the audience is revealed a side of Father Flynn that is completely contradictory to the good role model who dedicates his life to teaching the teachings of God (of which drinking and smoking excessively are a sin). This combined with the dialogue of Father Flynn gossiping about a parish woman saying she’s so “fat” that she “walks harder than a herd of elephants” further shows the audience how inaccurate their preconception was of Father Flynn at the beginning as a good priest and role model, as calling someone fat behind their back is not something we would associate with a priest who dedicates his life to teaching God’s messages of kindness.
Similarly, Shanley reveals a characteristic of Sister Aloysius that contrasts with how she was established in the beginning. In a scene later in the film where the nuns are eating dinner, through a close up shot of Sister Aloysius’ hand as she wordlessly slides a fork into another nun’s fumbling fingers (whom we later learn will be kicked out of the parish if the church authorities know she is going blind), the audience is shown how their preconceptions of Sister Aloysius, in the beginning, aren’t entirely accurate as seeing Sister Aloysius protect a vulnerable nun against the intentions of her authorities is not something we expected from someone who was introduced by slapping the back of a boy’s head.
you have a lot of stuff in this section - some of which is the same as earlier points - which ones do you see as stronger points??? Focus on those rather than repeat more
This combined with the use of the performance of Sister Aloysius’ actress (Meryl Streep) in a close up of Sister Aloysius’ face after she’s helped the almost blind nun, through which the audience sees Sister Aloysius avert her eyes from the nun and look up at the ceiling, to suggest to us that she is trying to be as inconspicuous as possible in doing the good deed. This shows the audience that even though Sister Aloysius’ methods of caring might be more unconventional, she still looks out for who she thinks is the most vulnerable (even when it might be at the expense of going against her authorities) and being revealed to her good intentions further proves how our initial assumptions of Sister Aloysius are not entirely accurate.
The fact that the audience feels taken aback when they are shown these characteristics of these characters that are contradictory to how they were established and the stereotypes surrounding their respective roles in the church emphasises how convinced of the character they were from their initial assumptions (even if subconsciously).due to the directors careful/effective/clever us of …
Although it’s easy to say Shanley made us assume Father Flynn was a sinless priest and Sister Aloysius was a strict and uncaring nun, Shanley didn’t force our minds to think that way. All he did was set the scene using stereotypes and preconceptions and let human nature take it from there. We as humans, assume things because we hate being uncertain or in doubt. Even subconsciously, our brains jump to conclusions when we are first introduced to someone, filling the gaps of information we aren’t given. This is because human nature causes us to make assumptions to avoid feeling uncertain or in doubt, because when we feel uncertain, we don’t have control, are scared of the unknown and feel vulnerable.
you need to look closely at these last two sections - you have very good ideas - but this is very wordy eg you could simplify the next section by starting 'Shanley’s purpose is to…
The reason Shanley influences us to assume things about Father Flynn and Sister Aloysius when they were established in the opening only to reveal aspects of these characters that contradict how they were established, is to make us doubt our judgement. By feeling this doubt and being taken aback by the fact that the characters are not what they seem, the audience is made to doubt their assumptions and ask themselves, “was I right to think this about Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn?” and be further encouraged to doubt preconceptions and ask themselves, “am I right to think this?” in their own lives. Through this, Shanley helps the audience become more able to relate to his purpose of challenging human natural avoidance of doubt to encourage us to accept the role of doubt in human life. Judgments and Preconceptions can be limiting bc defining a person by their job or outward appearance discourages us from ever thinking of them in a way that’s outside of what they are perceived as in that stereotype. If more people’s thoughts of people weren’t constricted by stereotypes or preconceptions, back in the film’s setting of the 1960s or today, maybe more people would have acted on the obvious doubt that authorities weren’t actually as they seem.
**don’t add another example here **
For example, if more people in the 1960s setting of Doubt acted on their doubts of priests being inappropriate with children despite the fact that priests were so well respected by their communities, maybe more children could’ve been spared the horror of sexual abuse within the Church.
Thus through establishing the characters of Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn to purposefully show how the characters aren’t confined to how they were established in the opening, Shanley conveys his purpose of making us feel doubtful about our assumptions by questioning, “am I right to think this?” and encourage us to accept the role of doubt in our lives. this sounds like a good conclusion - bu then you have another one…
In conclusion, through the use of language features such as the actor’s performance, dialogue and camera shots, Shanley establishes the characters of Father Flynn and Sister Aloysius in the audience’s minds while also allowing the audience to make assumptions of these characters using personal and societal preconceptions about the characters’ outward appearance and their roles in the Church filling in the gaps of information we weren’t shown. Shanley does this so when characteristics of Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn that conflict with how they were established are shown later in the movie, the audience doubts their judgement and asks “Was I right to think that?”. Through this, Shanley conveys his purpose of encouraging us to embrace our doubts and uncertainties and to ask ourselves, “am I right to think that?” when confronted with preconceptions and assumptions in our own lives and as Shanley said himself, “learn to live with a full measure of uncertainty”
You know the text very well, have a lot of relevant supporting evidence - but you tend to overwrite things - too much and some repetition - be selective about what you use