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Paperback The Miracle Worker Book

ISBN: 1416590846

ISBN13: 9781416590842

The Miracle Worker

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

Based on the remarkable true story of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, this inspiring and unforgettable play has moved countless readers and become an American classic. Young Helen Keller, blind, deaf, and mute since infancy, is in danger of being sent to an institution because her inability to communicate has left her frustrated and violent. In desperation, her parents seek help from the Perkins Institute, which sends them a "half-blind...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

"She knows!"

William Gibson's "The Miracle Worker" is as poignant and powerful today as it was back in 1957, when it was first performed on "Playhouse 90." Annie Sullivan is an "inexperienced half-blind Yankee schoolgirl" who attempts to reach seven-year-old Helen Keller, a child who became deaf and blind as a result of a childhood illness. Helen's father, Captain Keller, is a southern gentleman who is used to being obeyed. However, even he stands helplessly by in the face of Helen's violent and disruptive outbursts. Mrs. Keller, Helen's mother, is a sweet and loving person who pities Helen, and by giving in to her every whim, she helps turn her daughter into a demanding tyrant. Annie Sullivan is only twenty when she comes to Alabama to become Helen's teacher. Annie had been blind herself, and although numerous operations on her eyes have restored some of her sight, her eyes remain weak and sensitive to light. Annie is appalled when she meets her volatile and undisciplined charge. The teacher sets out to civilize Helen by instructing her to eat from her own plate with utensils rather than grab food from everyone else's plate with her hands. This leads to an angry confrontation between teacher and student, which leaves both of them emotionally and physically drained. William Gibson's five page long stage directions describe in great detail this pitched battle between these two stubborn individuals. After this harrowing encounter, Annie realizes that only by separating Helen from her indulgent family can she ever hope to tame this brilliant but willful youngster. "The Miracle Worker" is a beautifully constructed and concise play. Each act builds in intensity until the climactic scene when Helen associates the water that pours over her hands with the letters that Annie is constantly spelling into her palm. However, this drama is more than a heartwarming story about a dedicated teacher and her out-of-control student. It is a story about a family divided against itself. Captain Keller is an overbearing husband and father, Mrs. Keller is a mother in denial, and Helen's half-brother, James, never gets enough positive attention from his parents. Gibson injects welcome humor into the play, as when Annie proclaims, "What good will your pity do her [Helen] when you're under the strawberries, Captain Keller?" In addition, Annie criticizes the family for treating Helen like a pet, adding sardonically, "Why, even a dog you housebreak." Some of the most resonant lines in "The Miracle Worker" deal with the importance of communication. Annie wisely observes, "Language is to the mind more than light is to the eye." If Helen is to ever function as an adult, she will need to learn sign language. To accomplish this, Annie seeks a breakthrough that will enable her to bring Helen's spirited soul out of the darkness of her isolation. When Annie drags Helen to a water pump to refill a pitcher she had dropped, Helen says, "Wah. Wah," remembering the word for

An imprisoned mind set free

"The Miracle Worker," a play by William Gibson, has had an enduring presence as a piece of living literature. It appeared on Broadway during the 1959-60 dramatic season, was made into a motion picture a couple of years later, and then was remade as a television movie for the 1979-80 season. The play's genesis lies in the real story of Helen Keller (1880-1968), the woman who was struck deaf and blind by illness at the age of 19 months. "The Miracle Worker" tells how a young Helen was led out of her prison of silence and darkness by the remarkable Anne Sullivan, who set out to teach the girl sign language."The Miracle Worker" is a truly great play. Gibson brilliantly takes the historical facts of Keller's childhood (many of which can be found in "The Story of My Life," Keller's 1902 autobiography) and turns them into a suspenseful, profoundly moving piece of theater. Although the core of the play is the fiery relationship between Sullivan and the wildly undisciplined Helen, Gibson's drama takes in the entire Keller household. I was particularly moved by the relationship between "Miss Annie" and Helen's frustrated but devoted mother."The Miracle Worker" is remarkable because much of the story is told not in dialogue, but in Gibson's stage directions. This is one of those plays which is not only powerful in performance, but also a gripping read.Gibson's play is one of those great examples of a drama that takes real American life stories and turns them into enduring art; in that sense, it is comparable to such great works as "The Crucible," by Arthur Miller, or "The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail," by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee."The Miracle Worker" is not only a compelling human drama, but also a reflection on courage, love, education, and the transcendent power of language. As an interesting complementary text, I recommend Octavia Butler's science fiction story "Speech Sounds" (which can be found in Butler's book "Bloodchild and Other Stories").

Truthful, Powerful and Challenging

I started loving this story 30 years ago. The Truth in it is stronger than ever! I understand why children love it. There are healthy standards, it is full of hope for the future, in spite of the difficulties that lurk all around. This story is an excellent symbol to all of us who are, in any way, disabled. Be it blindness, deafness, poverty, abuse survivor, depression, you name it. When we have been allowed to be strong-willed and determined to do things our own way, even if it totally grosses out and/or destroys everyone around us, especially those we love. Anti-social behavior can be as deadly to the person exhibiting the behavior as walking in the street and ignoring the traffic! The symbolism of how the Truth enters one's mind when the person is ready to learn, applies to every person on earth. This is so beautifully presented by the teacher's determination and the student's grasping and taking hold of the knowledge. Thus, proving Helen's intellegence and desire. Desire to live a fuller life then before meeting her match in Anne Sullivan. She met someone that wouldn't patronize her, but would give her the tools she needed to live, long after her exhausted family went on to meet their maker. This is one of my favorite books because it makes me look at myself. What do I do that is selfish and bothersome to those around me that I can give up? And are there tools out there that can help me contribute to the world around me?


I'm an eleven year old girl, and I believe that this wonderful book was written for all ages. It is definitely in my top ten. This is the best account of Helen Keller's life, a beautifully written script filled with flashbacks and fight scenes. A real heartwarmer. You gotta try it!

The moving accounts of the inarticulate Helen Keller

The Miracle Worker is a timeles piece of American literature and the book comments on the comprehensive view of human nature through the character of Helen Keller. Blind, deaf, and dumb she stood and faced her fears in the face of harm.
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