Miracle Worker Essay


Miracle — n. an unusual happening, one that goes against the normal laws of nature; a supernatural event regarded as due to divine action. A beautiful and bright little girl, dearly loved by mother and father, was locked in darkness, unable to see the immense world around her, not able to hear the sounds of nature. Then twenty-year-old Annie Sullivan, a bold and persistent woman, was employed by the Keller family to teach their child, deaf and blind Helen Keller. William Gibson, author of the play The Miracle Worker, writes a moving story, showing that this teacher was a true miracle worker. Annie Sullivan was a miracle worker for not only Helen Keller, but for her mother Kate, her father Captain Arthur, and her stepbrother James Keller as well.


Kate Keller, second wife to Captain Arthur Keller, always allowed her husband to dominate over her, commanding her to do this, persuading her to think that. Annie Sullivan’s presence in the heart of their family situation as a young and authoritative female pushed Kate to build confidence. Kate’s growing independence compelled her to speak for herself and express her own thoughts and opinions, and sometimes they are against not only her husband, but to Helen’s teacher, as well. Below are quotes from William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker where Kate stands up to Keller, when he tells Kate to give Annie notice of her unemployment, and appeals to Annie, (quoted respectively):


Keller: I want you to give her notice.


Kate: I can’t.


Keller: Then if you won’t, I must. I simply will not—



Kate: Miss Annie.


(She is leaning toward Annie, in deadly earnest; it commands both Annie and Keller.)


I am not agreed. I think perhaps you—underestimate Helen.


Annie: I think everybody else here does.


(A pause, Kate not letting her eyes go; her appeal at last is unconditional, and very quiet.)


Kate: Miss Annie, put up with it. And with us.


Keller: Us!


Kate may have been jealous of James, her stepson who was “perfect” in all the ways her first child, Helen, was not. He could see, hear, and speak without difficulty, and was also the son of another woman. She did not fully accept James until she was separated from Helen for the two weeks for which Annie had requested, because she saw James as a child who needs love but has a father who does not show any open affection. In this time period, Kate finally begins to accept him as a friend and stepson. Finally, Kate acted on her eagerness to see Helen be opened from her closed world. “Kate: I should like to learn those letters, Miss Annie. / Annie [pleased]: I’ll teach you tomorrow morning. That makes only half a million each.” On her own initiative, Kate asked to understand the sign language that Annie teaches Helen. When Helen is finally able to understand that a certain word in sign language means something, Helen is able to communicate with others, and chooses her mother of all people, to “speak” to:


(Kate moves to Helen, touches her hand questioningly, and the Helen spells a word to her. Kate comprehends it, their first act of verbal communication, and she can hardly utter the word aloud, in wonder, gratitude…)


Confidence, a stepson, these are small miracles compared to the greatest miracle Annie has given Kate. Annie Sullivan gave Kate Keller her child by teaching Helen to speak with her hands and enabling her to express herself in words so that people around her can understand.


Captain Arthur Keller is a prideful man, always thinking he is always right in every matter. He unknowingly treats his son of his first wife very harshly, always putting him down and telling him to stop talking when, in fact, most of what James has to say is true and relevant:


James: Never learn with everyone letting her do anything she takes it into her mind to—


Keller: You be quiet!


James: What did I say now?


Keller: You talk too much.


James: I was agreeing with you!


Keller: Whatever it was. Deprived child, the least she can have are the little things she wants.


Captain Keller was not a very affectionate man, and had finally realized the truth about himself. “Keller: Why can’t