The Miracle Worker

by

William Gibson

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Keys and locks Symbol Analysis

Keys and locks Symbol Icon

Another important symbol in The Miracle Worker is the key. Throughout the play, various references are made to keys, keyholes, and locked doors. Often, it is Helen Keller herself who locks the doors—at one point, for instance, she locks Annie Sullivan in her room and then hides the key. For Gibson, keys and locks evoke the way Helen’s mind works. Annie sees Helen as a bright young child who is nonetheless barred from learning about the world by her blindness and deafness. Annie aims to “unlock” Helen’s potential by teaching her how to communicate through sign language. Therefore, it’s wholly appropriate that, just after learning to communicate, Helen presents Annie with the key to the house. Thanks to her teacher, Helen’s mind is now  “unlocked,” completely open to the wonders of the world.

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Keys and locks Symbol Timeline in The Miracle Worker

The timeline below shows where the symbol Keys and locks appears in The Miracle Worker. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Meanwhile, in her room, Annie gives Helen a key. Helen uses the key to open the suitcase. She finds a big shawl inside, and... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
...Helen rushes out of the room, holding the doll, and shuts the door, turning the key in the lock. Annie yells out for Helen before she realizes the pointlessness of yelling. (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
...Kate finds Helen, sitting outside by the water pump. She finds that Helen has no key. While James cheerfully finds a ladder and carries it outside to Annie’s window, Kate tries... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Arthur, realizing that Kate will never find the key, takes the ladder and climbs up to Annie’s room, telling her that he’ll have to... (full context)
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
...little awed. When Helen is satisfied that she’s alone, she opens her mouth, revealing the key. Annie can’t help but smile: “You devil,” she says, “You think I’m so easily gotten... (full context)
Act 3
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Back in the house, Helen feels the front door and removes the key from the lock. She runs to Kate, who takes the keys back from her. James... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...Helen then turns back to her mother. She taps Kate’s pocket until Kate retrieves the keys and gives them to Helen. It is their first act of communication, and in this... (full context)