How does Sister Aloysius undermine Sister James?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Doubt, Sister Aloysius undermines Sister James in a couple of distinct ways.  The first is that the young Sister James clearly recognizes that she is operating within a different paradigm than the seasoned Sister Aloysius.  Sister James believes in forming bonds with her students and making her subject of History exciting for her students.  This zeal and passion are elements that Sister Aloysius derides as mere "performing" and more for the adult than the child. By enforcing her own paradigm upon Sister James, Sister Aloysius has undermined her:  "She's taken away my joy of teaching. And I loved teaching more than anything."  Sister James feels pressure to conform to Sister Aloysius's vision of teaching and learning.  

This paradigm is controlling and, by definition, something that undermines Sister James's professional being.  Put another way, Sister Aloysius undermines Sister James by removing the younger sister's natural tendency to see the good and optimistic aspect in both students and, people, in general.  In this undermining, one has to ask if Sister Aloysius is pursuing her agenda out of the general notion of good or to satisfy her own notion of control.  In this "doubt," another one of the play's conflicts exist.