What does the subtitle Doubt suggest about Shanley's story?
The subtitle of Shanley's work has to do with "A Parable." The use of this is deliberate. It suggests that the play itself is seeking to instruct, to teach a lesson. In the New Testament, Jesus teaches through parables. They operate as small stories in which a complex and intricate concept is related through a direct narrative. The use of parables helps to illuminate understanding and brings out abstraction in a manner that the audience can understand. The parable is meant to detail a universal condition or lesson.
Shanley's use of the parable as his subtitle suggests that his drama is one in which a universal lesson is communicated. The issue of doubt versus certainty is essential. Shanley understands how the Catholic Priest scandal has constructed a world of nothing but doubt. It has rocked the certainty that once used to form the bedrock of both ceremony and spiritual identity. In the use of the parable, Shanley is able to illuminate the reality that confronted and still confronts so many who were devastated by revelation and, essentially, by the absence of certainty. As suggested in its subtitle, the play's message speaks to how individuals live in a world where doubt does exist and certainty might be illusory. The parable helps to bring a broader focus to an event that is ongoing and one that confounds the mind and puzzles the imagination. In its suggestion that the play operate as a parable, the drama suggests that there is a capacity to learn and understand from even the darkest of moments.